Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 68 ~ Stormy Weather

On The Hotel Door in Herington, Kansas

Tom Swenson (Network Tech for TCT Tri-County Telephone Assoc., Inc.) stopped and gave Gregory suckers and Beech-Nut gum.

Lovely-Smelling Manure Spreader

Pretty Rapp County School

The storm's coming! Pedal faster!

Lt. Dan of the Kansas Turnpike Authority (Kansas Highway Patrol) saves the day!

Gregory gets to check out Lt. Dan's cruiser, vest and guns.

Out In Force

Mark let us camp on his parent's property, neighboring the park, when the city nixed our plans to camp. Gregory is holding the stuffed koala bear that Lt. Dan gave to him.

Date: Sept. 25, 2009

From: Herington, Kansas

To: Osage City, Kansas

Route: Hwy 56E


Miles Today: 64 miles


Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: Fair weather and windy most of the day but stormy and 50 mph winds riding into Osage City!

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates, 8 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho plate (found in WY), 2 Colorado plates

Our morning was nice with a stop for lunch in Council Grove eating at the historic Terrwilliger Home located right on the Santa Fe Trail. We “experienced” the Flint Hills of Kansas today with a continuous string of hills and my left knee was starting to give me some trouble. This led to my grunting and groaning up each hill and Mike asking Gregory, “Are you pedaling?” Gregory takes this as an accusation and Mike considers himself just looking out for my best interests by trying to get Gregory to make a bigger contribution. I wished I’d have kept my pain to myself because it just lead to a big upset. I later tried to explain to Mike that it is all in his tone but he doesn’t see his question at all negative so gets very frustrated. He was just trying to help me out. I know Gregory feels like of course he is pedaling… Later I suggested maybe saying, “Your mom’s hurting, “Accelerator” can you give me a little more boost?” or something to that effect. Mike just feels like Gregory takes offense to any comments from him and that he responds better to my requests. It is a tough one…

Anyhow, this brought us to the intersection of Highway 56 and 99 where Mike dismounted and walked away from the bike. I couldn’t balance it so it slid to the ground right on the corner of the intersection. I moved the trailer to the right of the white line to get it off the road and Mike came storming back to move it further off the road. He ended up on one side of the highway with Greg about 6 feet away from him and sitting by the bike and me across the highway. Gregory crossed over and sat by me for quite sometime before Tom from TCT Tri-County Telephone stopped and gave Gregory suckers and Beech Nut gum. Greg shared his goodies with Dad and Tom wanted a picture of us on the bike so this broke the ice and got the poor bike out of the dirt. Thanks Tom. Tom also let us know that it was about 15 more miles to Osage City where we’d hoped to stay. The only other option was a shelter but no services in Admire a couple of miles off Highway 56. I said to Mike, “Come on let’s go. I’m hurting but I can make it.” We half-heartily pedaled down the road with the storm on our tail. Mike even said, “This is stupid Dorrie. A storm is coming.” As we crested each hill and saw only more hills in the distance our hearts sank. We just wanted an end to this miserable day. The wind persisted and we stopped briefly and ate a snack in silence. I took pictures of the ominous sky and when we hopped back on the bike it was like the storm instantly hit. The temperature dropped and the wind kicked up several notches. We knew we were in for it and somehow we all dug down deep and found the extra energy to pedal with all of our might the last 5 miles to town. When we turned the corner to ride the last mile to Osage City we had a furious 50 mph crosswind. Gregory was trying to call to me above the wind, “Mom, I’m cold. Mom, I’m getting pelted with bugs.” I hollered back, “I know honey but we can’t stop. Hang in there. We’re almost there. It’s not bugs it is the corn that is pelting you.” The cornfield right next to the road had just been harvested and we were being assaulted by chafe, dust and field debris.

We blew into town and asked a man at the car wash about a motel. His response was, “No motel in this town.” He thought there might be a B&B and directed us to the crossroads. Once there I spied the Mexican restaurant someone had recommended and screamed to Mike, “Let’s take cover and eat and then figure out the lodging situation!” He turned right, in agreement, and we were faced head on with that 50 mph wind. It literally blew us backwards and we had to pedal with all our might to make it to the door of the restaurant. We must have been quite a sight when we walked into the packed restaurant. We always get funny stares (as you can imagine) wearing our Lycra with our hair sticking out everywhere and that look of exhaustion on our faces. We plunked down and refueled. It is amazing how a crisis situation can pull people together. We still weren’t talking much but when it came down to it we were there for each other. I suppose that is a testimony to our relationship.

After talking to some hunters from Michigan and their local guide we found the B&B was closed. I kept hoping they’d take us home but knew it wasn’t likely as it was a guided hunting group. Plan C…We rode to the park in the drizzling rain and started to quickly set up our tent figuring we’d check in with the police after. In the process Gregory flagged down a State Trooper (who Mike and I knew wouldn’t be the one we needed to talk to) and sure enough he turned around to talk to Greg. We explained our situation and he contacted the local police only to find there was a city ordinance against camping in the park. (We are off the TransAm Route currently in an effort to get to Kansas City for a bicycle tune-up and ran into this problem before.) I said, “Well, tell them they need to find a place to put us because we are running out of options and the storm is coming.” The trooper, Lt. Dan (Mike and I instantly thought of the movie “Forrest Gump”) was great and went over to the neighbor who was mowing the lawn adjacent to the park and asked if we could camp on his property. Mark didn’t hesitate and said we could camp on his parent’s property and that he’d let his folks know we were here. By then Officer Larry Phillips of the local police showed up and then the hunters from the Mexican restaurant! I joked with the hunters that if they had taken us home we wouldn’t have the troops out in force! The hunting guide said, “I’d have taken you home but I’m 12 miles out of town (and he had a four-wheeler filling up the bed of his truck). I told him I was just kidding and that everything worked out fine.

Lt. Dan went above the call of duty and let Gregory sit in his car, turn on the lights, try on his Kevlar vest and see his guns. And, just as we were saying goodbye he dug around in the back seat and came up with a stuffed koala bear for Gregory, whom Gregory immediately called “Osage” after Osage City. (Since we may go Down Under this winter we thought this very fitting.) Officer Phillips was very kind also and offered to have the park keep the nearby bathrooms open for us.

That night there was a torrential downpour with drops so big I thought they’d turn to hail and lots of thunder and lightening. To top it off the neighbor’s dog barked incessantly until well after midnight. When I made a comment that the dog was making me crazy Mike replied, “He’s just scared.” I couldn’t believe he was this understanding. I slept terrible and got up at 2:00 A.M. to use the facilities. As I zipped open the tent Mike said, “Whatever you do don’t wake up the dog.” I squished across the muddy road careful not to make a sound and on the way back I was rewarded with this pitch-black sky filled with the brightest view of the Orion’s Belt constellation that I’d ever seen. I just stood in the stillness and stared at the sky for some time not wanting to get back into the wet sticky tent.

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