July 2, 2006
“There must me a new front system comin’ through – I can feel the arthritis all through my hands and wrists… This may be my last barn buildin’ – I’m gettin’ too old to be workin’ twenty feet in the air… I was gonna go to town square yesterday n see if anybody had any fresh tomatoes and sweet corn… I don’t think I’ll be doin’ any work today, it’s gonna get too damn hot. Maybe I’ll do a little yet this mornin, but this afternoon I think I’m gonna sit in my recliner in my underwear, drink iced tea, and sleep.”
…and there’s some snippets of conversation that I listened to this morning, as I drank coffee and ate two excellent biscuits with gravy. I was up early, risen from a poor night’s sleep. It was due to rowdy campers and what I figure are allergies.
I was on the bike and rolling at 7am. The town of Toronto was closed on this early Sunday morning, but before long I came to a gas station that served hot biscuits and gravy where I met the above gentlemen.
Riding this morning was pretty and scenic through the Flint Hills region. It’s all gently rolling prairie, preserved as grassland. I saw nearly hundreds of motorcyclists all morning long, doing some sort of special group ride. I also met two eastbound cyclists from Hawaii. The wind was out of the southwest again, but more so from the south, so it didn’t blow in my face and cause as much trouble as yesterday.
This afternoon I stopped for a nice long break at a general store and talked to my mom, step dad, aunt, and uncle on the phone, all while I was swinging on a front porch swing. They were having a holiday cookout.
I met two more eastbound cyclists, and more people on motorcycles. At the store I stocked up on food, filled up my water, got two cans of soda, and set out on the 38-mile desolate stretch to Newton.
I’d been drinking soda all day long, so I think that may have caused me to dehydrate early. It may just be my imagination, but I also think I’m in a transitional area from the humidity of the east to the dry heat of the west. In any event, I was only 15 miles into this lonely section when I ran out of all I had to drink. So I plodded on, looking forward to a very uncomfortable remaining 25 miles… but soon I came upon a Mennonite church with an outside water spigot! I took a great break there and got fully refreshed. I drank a bunch of water, topped the rest off, stuck my head under the spigot, and soaked my shirt.
Then I felt great, and better yet, I remembered my radio. I picked up all the stations out of Wichita, and before long I was rockin’ out to classic rock, and all kinds of good stuff. Some stations had holiday countdowns and were playing all of the Americana-type stuff.
So I was feeling strong on the home stretch of this 100 mile day, and maybe you could picture me riding through the Kansas plains late in the afternoon to the sounds of Bon Jovi (On a steeeeel horse I ride), 99 Luftballoons, 867-5309, BTO Takin’ Care of Business, Ozzy, Bohemian Rhapsody, Bob Seger Against the Wind, Procol Harem Whiter Shade of Pale, The Who Baba O’Reily, Emerson Lake Palmer Lucky Man, and on and on. It was a lot of fun, and there was nobody to be seen among the corn to overhear my terrible singing, except maybe a few cows, or the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and Toto.
I cruised into Newton, Kansas – a fairly large town of 17,000 – sometime between 7 and 8pm. Again, kids everywhere were setting off fireworks, and there were cracks and pops all around me. I was feeling celebratory with the holiday feeling in the air, so I found a bar and parked my butt on a stool. A local guy kept me entertained while I was there, telling me about how he likes the HBO series Deadwood because the script and writing is Shakespearean, talking politics about how congress voted to give itself another raise, but voted down raising the minimum wage, the poet e.e. cummings, how he used no capital letters and so forth, and all sorts of odd interesting stuff.
Now after only three bottles of Budweiser, whoo boy did I leave the bar with a mighty fine buzz. I made my way over toward the town fair. Just before I reached it, I bought three hot dogs for three dollars at a little stand on the edge of a little league ballgame under the lights. Unfortunately the game was over just ten minutes after I arrived. They started closing down the food stand, and I managed to procure some free leftover food – two hamburgers and two more hot dogs. That’s a total of five hot dogs and two burgers that I ate for dinner.
Then I walked around inside the fair for a little while, but there wasn’t too much to see that couldn’t be seen at any other town fair in the country. With a belly of full of beer and hot dogs, I was ready to call it a night, so I made my way over to the town park and promptly passed out on a picnic table. Life is good.
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Google Map Route may not be 100% accurate.