Hank – We had a light breakfast and hit the road around 9:45. Kathy wasn’t feeling that well thanks to some insomnia. We had two choices for destinations today: Syracuse, Kansas about 20 miles away and Lakin, Kansas and 51 miles away. We decided to play it by ear. Crossing the border got us to state #40. Only eight more to go in the Lower 48. (Thought for the day: The Lower 48 was an appropriate term when Alaska became a state, but not so much a year later when Hawaii became a state. Shouldn’t it be The Lower 49 now?)
We rolled into Syracuse right when a couple of tractor-trailers hauling wind turbine blades were getting onto the highway. The escort vehicle drivers were were holding up traffic so the trucks could get out. We bypassed the traffic jam and went to the Black Bison Pub to eat. The Black Bison is the brightest spot on the dilapidated Main Street that’s all too common in small town America. It’s new and their menu offers much nicer fare than the burgers and pizzas we’ve seen so much of during our travels. I had a hummus plate and a veggie wrap. By the way, Syracuse was originally called Holidaysberg when it was founded. Four years later they renamed it after Syracuse, New York. I don’t know why. Holidaysberg would have been quite the unique name, like Truth or Consequences, right?
We got back on the road and headed for Lakin, 28 miles away. Kathy was holding up like a trooper. The remainder of the ride was unremarkable. We just kept pedaling in the sun with a slight head and side wind that was just enough to be irritating. I found a California license plate. And a couple miles outside of Lakin the passenger in an oncoming pickup truck extended his middle finger towards us. I have no idea what that was about. We “lost” an hour when we entered the Central time zone. The zone border aligns with the western border of Kearney county of which Lakin is the county seat.
Tomorrow we have 20-30 mph winds coming from the south. Rather than risk getting pushed into traffic by those winds, we’re taking a rest day in town. We got a hotel room for two nights. Tomorrow we’ll visit the county museum. For dinner I walked to a nearby restaurant to get a pizza to take back to the room. When I walked in there was a table with five elderly women and another table with five elderly men. All eyes turned to me, probably because I’ve never been seen here before. The proprietor took my order but told me her grand daughter would ring it up for me because she knows how to use the iPad better. I would guess she was about 12. I paid with my Visa and entered my email address to get the receipt. I noticed a highlighted button on the screen that said “Join now”. I touched the “No thanks” button and then the screen changed to something odd. I asked if it worked correctly and the young lady said, “Yeah, it went. This stuff is really hard.” Her tone and facial expression came across as if she was talking to an elderly person who had no clue about technology. I didn’t say anything or react, but I was thinking, “Well, you little shit!” Too funny.
Kathy – I only slept three hours last night so I was dragging this morning. The plan was to hit the road at 9:30am. Chatty Kathy (not me this time, the hotel manager) held us up with her nonstop talking. Regardless of her talking, she is a super kind lady. Kathy moved to Holly, Kansas from Texas. Her Texas accent remains strong. Kathy had eight children with an alcoholic partner. They never married and separated after 17 years. Kathy is the matriarch of her family now. Her children and grandchildren all rely on her extensively. She has been trying to help her 19 year old son, his girlfriend and their two year old daughter who recently went off road with their vehicle and crashed. None had seat belts on and all were ejected from the car. All will be okay but have long recoveries. Kathy is there to help as everyone depends on her.
Kathy also has great plans to revitalize the old hotel, along with the two attached buildings into an old fashioned ice cream parlor and a saloon. She is only 59 years old but looks much older, is very heavy set and has difficulty walking. Her health has obviously taken a toll with her kindness of helping everyone. I wish her the best, along with her family and all of her renovation projects.
We said our goodbyes to Kathy and off we rode. Not sure of our final distance because I was so tired. I was thankful for the cool but not freezing morning weather. The sun was shining and we had a small headwind. Only four miles into our ride and we hit our 40th state – Kansas! My sister Mary Beth used to live in Kansas and told me, “There ain’t nothing in Kansas.” Well, she might be right. Our day was filled with looking at a whole lot of nothing, just farm land everywhere around. Occasionally we would see a farm house or some cows, but that was pretty much it for 51 miles.
We had a nice lunch in Syracuse, Kansas about 23 miles into our day. I decided to push through and finish the day in Lakin, Kansas. The winds picked up and we had a stronger headwind and at times a side wind. I normally don’t listen to music on our rides. Hank and I usually talk about the things we see or the people we meet along the way. This afternoon I turned my music on low (Bluetooth to my hearing aids) and zoned out just to finish getting the miles in. Our last 19 miles were constant rolling hills, so up and down we went while I listed to 80’s country and pop music. The music helped to finish off the day. 🎶 🤠🕺🏻💃🏻🎼
It was a good day’s ride. It ended up a nice sunny day in the mid 60’s. If it weren’t for my lack of sleep, it would have been an absolutely perfect day. All is good. We are in state #40! Crazy to believe we only have ten states to go. Even counting the tough days, it’s been a fabulous adventure so far. 😊
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