May 11 - 19: Kansas

5/17 - Ness City (64 miles 1763.5 total)
we tend to get up around 5 a.m. since breakfast is usually out by 5:30. today there was very little light in the motel parking lot where our snack & breakfast table was set up, so finding our sandwich makings & other snack items was more of a challenge than usual. we filled our little styrofoam bowls with cereal then brot them back to our rooms for eating. i always have oatmeal topped with lots of chopped pecans, raisins, & a sliced banana. last evening i found a yogurt in my bike bag left over from yesterday, so i ate that as a breakfast appetizer this morning.
sari & i biked off from the motel in larned around 6:30 this morning. a route revision was handed out during breakfast. to avoid a nonbusy road that's now being repaired, we had to bike on a busier road, but it wasn't too bad. it was already windy, & riding those first 12 miles, the winds came at us broadside. but after we made our first turn...hallelujah: strong tailwinds for 20 miles. the skies had brightened so the landscape was just beautiful as we sailed along.
we sped into the teensy town of Rush Center searching for the telltale cafe bike lineup & quickly found it. inside, half a dozen other bikers had ordered breakfast, but sari & i each had a piece of chocolate milk for me. it wasn't homemade, but it did arrive at the table warm. the sweet little waitress was a little overwhelmed with so many extra clients so early in the morning, but she worked hard to take care of us.
we finally figured that we had to face the rest of today's route whether we'd lost those tailwinds or not, so we got on our bikes & headed west. the tailwinds were gone all right, replaced by strong broadside gusts. the following 13 miles to alexander were a strain. when big cattle trucks came by, sari & i often just got off the road into the grass, because the blasts of wind they create as they dash by are disorienting. it often feels as if they'll suck you into the side of the truck.
sari & i always watch our rearview mirrors carefully. looming behind us on that stretch into alexander was a huge vehicle on the road. i got off to the side & looked back. teetering on a large flatbed was at least half of a giant double-wide or prefab home. (at least it seemed to me it was teetering, especially in that ferocious wind.) the load pretty well took both sides of the road. it was scary standing there as it went by. not long after we saw a 2nd giant piece of prefab nearing us....then a 3rd. i decided to walk my bike over to the other side of the road before they got up to us. i could just envision the wind pushing them over onto us as we stood along the roadway. that would be too much: to be squashed beneath a falling domicile in kansas.....with my purple-sandaled biking foot sticking out from underneath, no doubt. that would just give way too many people an excuse for making an analogy to the wicked witch of whatever direction.
debby had stopped the subaru near alexander. we got water & snacks & picked up another riding partner, whose usual partner had decided to sag. half a dozen or so bikers sagged today. another 8 miles & we entered bazine. we found a little convenience store & got some drinks, used the restroom, & sat & chatted for a while.....joan, lee, sari & i. again the prospect of getting back on the road didn't appeal to us, but we had only 11 miles into ness city so figured we could suffer thru that much. along that stretch the winds were still very strong but seemed less gusty, so it didn't turn out so badly after all.
the terrain today was flat again. the seas of light green grasses & grain were absolutely beautiful. the strong winds blowing across them indeed gave the impression of waves. in a landscape this flat, it's hard to judge distances. we'd see the huge silos of an upcoming town & expect that it was close by--then 4-5 miles later we'd finally ride into the town.
we cruised into ness city & quickly found our motel, the derrick inn. it's bigger than you'd expect in such a small town, but we understand that folks with oil interests in the area need a place to stay when they visit. we had no trouble sliding into relaxation mode quite quickly.
here's sari in the hot tub/whirlpool with, from left, linda, patty the chef, & judith (notice the cute new short hairdo) looking on.
my roommates for these 2 nights are sari & judy...same as last night. judy walked a couple of blocks to the downtown this afternoon to do some laundry & shopping. she said the temperature was 87 & that the strong winds were whipping up dust & road grime into huge dust clouds that rolled down main street. she said that locals she met at the drugstore reported the winds today are worse than they've seen for 3 months. let's hope they blow themselves out tonight & tomorrow.
the indoor courtyard of this motel makes us feel sort of like we're in a biosphere.
in the photo you see lin (right) & lee. they're sitting in a raised lounge area; below them is a video arcade room. you can see the pool below; the hot tub is right beside it.
all the rooms open up into this indoor courtyard area. with tables here & there, it becomes a meeting place not only for us bikers but for other motel guests.
late afternoon patty the chef put out some guacamole, chips, & salsa for snacking. how handy that the card-players happened to set up at that very spot.
in the photo from left are sarah (with her back to the camera....she prefers it that way), jackie, gerrie, & darleene.
they'll be playing cards into the night & for much of tomorrow. darleene claims that she plays cards all the time because she doesn't have a pocketmailer.
tomorrow, besides making a trip downtown to do laundry, i plan to catch up on email & organize photos on my computer. there'll also be a trip to the Frigid Creme shop next door. otherwise, the schedule's open, open for doing nothing if i want to. when our biking days are so regimented, doing nothing & doing it at any time we want to becomes a big treat.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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