Thursday July 23
Scott City is now just another faded memory. We packed up and pedaled away in fine form. An earlier than normal start (8:00)under a clear blue sky with temperatures in the low 70’s would usually be a precursor for a fine day of cycling. And that almost happened. We pedaled straight to the next town of Dighton Kansas(23 miles) and located a diner on the edge of town. We very nearly left the restaurant immediately after entering as the dining area was clouded with cigarette smoke. Fortunately I noticed a non-smoking area that was acceptable. Once the fuel tanks were replenished we got back on the bikes and pedaled away. Three miles down the road Donna realizes that while she remembers getting Lewis’ Journal out for him to write in, she didn’t remember putting it back in her handlebar bag before we left. So we do a cursory search of our belongings and sure enough, the Journal is not among them. I was ready to leave the Journal behind as it has ended up being more aggravation getting him to write than what it’s worth. My sentiment was “ Let’s just get another one as that one is predominantly drawings of robots anyways”. Donna felt otherwise so she turned around and raced back to town and retrieved the book. This used up some of our time and in the process Lewis was now in the doghouse for leaving the journal behind.
We passed thru several smaller communities not bothering to stop as we had our sights set on Ness City. This would be a logical place to have lunch and then plan out the rest of our day. The winds today did not come into play as they were relatively benign and were predominantly from the South while we are now predominantly heading East. The clear skies of earlier remained throughout the day and the temperatures climbed into the low 90’s by the time we pulled into Ness City. A pizza shop (with air conditioning) was a logical stop for a late lunch.
We discussed the possibilities for the remainder of the day. We could either keep going and stop at Rush Center which would put us in place for a 20 mile ride due south tomorrow morning when we left. This would mean camping at the city park with no pool or no showers. Or we ride another 13 miles and stop at a bed and breakfast (that also allowed camping). Or we could stay in Ness City as they have a nice City Park/Swimming pool combination. The City Park/Swimming pool won out. This was actually a good compromise as we had already surpassed 54 miles and the scorching sun was not very kind. As we were finishing up our lunch Donna noticed another cyclist pedal by the restaurant and a couple minutes later Paul enters the eatery. He ended up joining us and having his own meal. He has already decided to stop for the day at Ness City so this makes our decision seem like a sensible one.
Paul is nearing 70 years and hails from Great Britain. He certainly has a lot of stories that he is more than willing to share with anyone willing to listen. He has cycled all over the world however this is his first time touring in the US. We chatted with him, or rather, listened to him prattle on about some of his many accomplishments. We managed to extricate ourselves and headed over to the city park to scope out the situation. Boy was it hot out after spending an hour in air conditioned comfort.
We found the park to our liking and the showers were free and it cost just $1 for Lewis to swim. We’re liking this aspect of Kansas. Lewis managed to hook up with a local kid within minutes of our arrival. Colton is in the same grade as Lewis and didn’t seem to mind Lewis’ weird sense of humor. The two of them were inseperable for the next 5 hours. Donna and I set up the tent and then I dashed off to the library to post an entry in the blog. I arrived to discover that I had only 25 minutes before they were closing for the day so I failed to answer any of the e-mails that I read. I’ll be taking care of that in the next day or two hopefully. After doing what I could at the library, and being chased out by the kindly librarian, I headed back to the park but not before stopping at the towns only grocery store. I also hit them at just the right time also as they were about to close as well. A half gallon of choco milk, some hickory stick and cheese and crackers and a couple bottles of gatorade was all I could manage to carry as I had Donnas bike with no panniers.
Donna and I snacked while Lewis and Colton were off playing. A little later we fed Lewis and Colton as they decided they were hungry. Some chocolate milk and a banana and some cookies took care of their empty spots. And just a little while after that I paid for the both of them to join in the evening swim that went from 7 till 9. Colton was without funds and apparently adult supervision as well. Like I said previously, he hung around and hung around right through the time a normal kid would have gone home for dinner. But he did fit in with us as we happen to be anything but normal. When the pool closed at 9:00, Lewis and Colton decided that a sleep over was the next logical extension. But their plan had a few holes in it. They decided that Colton would run home and get a sleeping bag and then return to be the 4th person in our 4 person tent. We didn’t immediately shoot down this plan. We explained to Colton that we would need to talk to his mother before any sleeping arrangements were made. I assume that he has a mother but I could be mistaken. So that let the air out of the ballon for Colton however he still hung around. It was now after 9:00 and just getting dark. I didn’t have the heart to tell him to just beat it, so Lewis and I walked him home just as it was getting dark. I can still hear him as he was saying goodbye to Lewis, “So I guess I’ll never see you again as you’re going to Washington DC. Will I ever see you again Lewis?” Lewis is used to these intense but brief friendships. As he succinctly put it” Yeah, I make friends and then POOF they’re gone.”
That should have been the end of the day but I have to report on just one more occurance. This city park is adjacent to the ball field and a late game followed by revelry from some of the participants meant that I ended up staying awake until after the last of them departed sometime after midnight. Boy I could have used those extra 2 hours of sleep.