Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kansas Kindness

Before I left on this trip I bought my tent online from a guy who had done some bike touring. When he shipped my tent, he included a note that simply said, "Try not to go crazy in the plains states." Most people warn about the Appalachians or the Rockies, but I'm starting to understand why he warned me about the plains.

Fortunately, there is much that is good about Kansas: the roads, the drivers, and the people. Kansans have been very friendly. Yesterday, I met June and Jim Gladden when I stopped in Nickerson for breakfast. These two retired schoolteachers were regulars in the diner. They were taking a break from sanding down cabinets in a house that they bought to flip. "Something to do in retirement," June explained. They asked me about my trip and told me that when they lived in town they lodged bikers regularly. They started in 1976, the first year of the trail. One night that summer they had 28 cyclists at their home because of a bad storm. Hosting cyclists, many of whom were foreigners, led them to start hosting international exchange students. They have hosted 48 students for a full school year.

As the Gladdens were leaving, they stopped to talk with an older woman who was walking home from the grocery store. They offered her a ride. As I said goodbye, the older woman rolled down her window to tell me proudly that her house (pictured above), which I would pass further down the road, was featured in the movie "Picnic" with Kim Novak and William Holden.

The remainder of my ride took me through the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, I didn't see any interesting animals. Panoramic views of cattle pastures changed to panoramic views of wheat fields.

I rolled into Larned in time to hit a laundromat, eat at a recently opened Mexican restaurant (I'm looking forward to the increasing availability of authentic Mexican food), and take my first swim of the trip in the motel pool.

Finally, I had my first full moon yesterday. Out the back window of a black SUV.

1 comment:

Jen H said...

I can't believe how close you're getting to Colorado! Not to discourage you, but (as you perhaps already know) the eastern half of CO might as well be part of KS. Also, it has been windier than crap for the last two months here in central CO, and you are going to be rolling into the Rockies just as our monsoon season starts. We usually have pretty fierce afternoon thunder/lightning storms every day, so get an early start once you can see the mountains! Keep up the great wriding and riting.