Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Irish of Rush Center

I planned a short ride yesterday because I wanted to stay at a bed and breakfast for cyclists in Bazine, KS. I spent the day taking in the vast landscapes. It's easy to understand how tornadoes build up their force when you travel through these lands. I know Montana is officially big sky country, but there is a lot of sky down here too -- more because no mountains break on the horizon. A regular stream of cattle trucks passed me on the road, each one leaving a wake of stench.

I passed a British cyclist heading east. I have now met more Brits biking east on the trail than Americans. Strangely, the guy was being followed and attacked by a swarm of flies, so we didn't talk long.

Rush Center was my scheduled lunch stop. Entering the town I saw a sign announcing that it was home of the largest St. Patrick's parade. Curious about whether an influx of Irish immigrants started this tradition, I asked a clerk at the town gas station about the parade and whether there were many Irish in the area. “No, just a lot of drunks,” she said.

I arrived in Bazine to find that Tim and Perry had passed me earlier in the day. They were concerned about making it to Denver in time, so they biked over one hundred miles the day before. As they headed on to the next town, I biked over to Elaine's Cyclist B&B.

Elaine was shaking ripe mulberries out of a tree when I arrived. When I told Elaine that I grew up in Detroit and now live in Chicago, I added, “I'm a city boy.” I think she took it as an apology because she said, “That's OK, everyone has to be from somewhere.”

Elaine and her husband, Dan Johnson, have run this relaxed B&B for about five years. In addition to the B&B, they raise cattle, farm wheat, do contract work cutting alfalfa, and breed golden retrievers. As luck would have it one of their dogs had given birth to a litter of ten puppies seven weeks ago. Elaine said that once people see her puppies they sell themselves. They were irresistible. Rambunctious and playful, the puppies were constantly running, jumping, and falling down. When they tired from play fighting, they would burrow into one another and create a big puppy pile. It was great fun to watch. (I'm submitting that paragraph as my writing sample for K9 Magazine.)

Over dinner, Elaine and Dan told me about the oil prospecting in the area. Oil derricks have dotted the landscape throughout Kansas. It sounded like the mere anticipation of oil money had created tension in this town.

After Elaine's home cooked meal, I walked outside to watch the last of the sun's color fade from the sky. An old barbed wire fence held together by limestone posts (a substitution required due to the lack of trees) penned in the Johnsons' cattle. A calf ran so playfully among the steers that from afar I thought it was a dog. As usual this week, a storm was rolling in and hail drove me inside.

Today was a fast ride. With very light winds from the north and west, I was averaging the highest speeds of my ride thus far. My directions for the next 300 miles are simple -- head west on Highway 96. During the ride, I learned that even buildings in the middle of nowhere don't escape graffiti.

When I reached Scott City, I had a difficult decision to make: check into the town hostel where I could spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool and hot tub or continue on to take advantage of the beautiful day and easy miles. I opted for the pool and hot tub, and, in all honesty, I guess it wasn't that difficult of a decision.


Nick said...

Are you sure the fellow you crossed paths with wasn't just a grown version of Pigpen? He wasn't carrying a dirty blanket was he?

Rush Center sounds like an interesting place to be on March 17th! That's quite a bold claim for them to make with someone from Chicago coming through.

Grace said...

The puppy pile is now my screensaver. Yes I am a big dork. on an unrelated note, after just a half hour on the exercise bike, my respect for what you are doing has grown tenfold.
It looks like you're about halfway there- congrats!

Anonymous said...

Which puppy are you sending home to Erica?

Grace said...

I still find them adorable, but am somewhat concerned that they might fuse into a giant "puppy king" Or maybe I'm just letting my mind wander too much on a Friday afternoon

John & Vicky Lang said...

Howdy from Texas Brian,

We are following you trip blog...

Looks like you'll be approaching Colorado and the Royal Gorge soon near Canon City. Much spectacular scenery coming!

John and Vicky Lang
Trophy Club--DFW

Jen said...

That pile of puppies is seriously the cutest thing I have ever seen. You really should have adopted one as a souvenir. We missed you and Erica on our camping trip to Wisconsin this weekend. In a nutshell, it involved a hail storm and Beanes the dog jumping out of a moving car. Otherwise, a good time had by all! Keep up the pedaling!

Anonymous said...

Send me a puppy!


Anonymous said...

OK, just to get this straightened out, yes there are several drunks around this area but there are some irish people! I would know I live here and I'm part irish. So please don't asume this is true just by what one person says!!!!!