Saturday, August 1, 2009

Day 32: Ness City, KS to Leoti, KS (80.5 Miles)

More wind today... but it was certainly more manageable than yesterday. Unlike yesterday, the wind wasn't always constant and switched sporadically from cross winds to head winds. I left Ness City around 6:30AM (an hour later than I wanted to), but it was still dark when I departed. I'm assuming it's because the days are growing shorter now and that I'm about to cross another time zone tomorrow. In any case, the wind was the strongest during these morning hours and made the first 30-something miles to breakfast all the more difficult. I was pleasantly surprised to find the wind had dissipated a bit afterwards and I was able to convince myself in putting in some serious miles today. At breakfast in a bowling alley, I met Alena (pictured below) and it was nice to crack some jokes with another person that shares the same sense of humor. We shared some stories over pancakes and cinnamon buns and then we were off!

Just outside of Dighton, I met two other Eastbounders and surprise, surprise... they're Brits! They seemed like a lovely couple and they reassured me about how close I was to getting into the Rockies. Today was spent on the same road... Route 96, which I'll be riding for the next few days as well. The road is so straight and the terrain so flat, I can see the town I need to arrive for breakfast/lunch/dinner/sleep from 10-15 miles away. The water towers always remain on the horizon and it makes you feel like you're slowly crawling along at a snail's pace. I didn't stop for a proper lunch today, thinking I'd find something in Leoti for an early dinner. However, when I arrived into Leoti, I was told that the restaurants were all closed due to a "Wichita County Fair" that was occurring this very weekend. The prospect of no food for another 30 miles and the promise of shelter/carnival food/air conditioning convinced me into staying here for the evening.

I checked into another cheap motel just a little after 3:00PM and showered off the smells of the high plains (I've decided that Kansas is my motel-state... the camping areas are virtually non-existant and/or inhospitable and the motels are so incredibly inexpensive! Plus, it's great riding in a larger pack and being able to share the expenses). I passed by a lot of livestock "farms" (I use quotations because they're all just thousands of square feet of cows standing/lying in their own fecal matter, surrounded by barbwire pins). It was such a contrast, seeing these animals in a drab Jersey-esque industrial setting and across the road was an open field with several cows grazing freely... it was like the difference between a Mexican resort and the tin-shack towns that surround it. Most of you know I was a vegetarian for a few years before the few months leading up to this trip, and I'll definitely stop eating meat the day this journey ends... the ethical/moral reasons are just too powerful to ignore. (Sorry Sands!)

So the guys arrived a little after 6:00PM and we walked over to a local Mexican food restaurant, but found that their queue was far too long of a wait. We were informed that they had loads of food over at the fair and that there was a rodeo starting at eight o'clock. We shuffled over and ate some greasy food and found our seats at the rodeo. It started out innocent enough, with hilarious falls off of bucking broncos; however, I started to feel a little uncomfortable when they started lassoing cattle and snapping their necks with great ferocity. I couldn't stomach anymore and decided to leave early to catch a few non-vomit inducing rides like the Ferris Wheel and left my British counterparts to enjoy the infamous "riding of the bulls." The treatment of the cows was just far too much, especially after seeing what I had saw earlier. Maybe I'm too much a softy to be a cowboy... Do cowboys eat veggie burgers and cry while watching movies?


Anne said...


I think of you often and am always so amazed at your dedication after reading your blog. Thank you for carrying on even when you're discouraged or lonely or tired. I've been reading a bit of Thomas Merton recently (are you familiar with him at all?) and I thought you would appreciate this passage:

"Either you look at the universe as a very poor creation out of which no one can make anything, or you look at your own life and your own part in the universe as infinitely rich, full of inexhaustible interest, opening out into the infinite further possibilities for study and contemplation and interest and praise. Beyond all and in all is God. Perhaps the Book of Life, in the end, is the book one has lived. If one has lived nothing, one is not in the Book of Life." Keep living, Blake. And keep your mind and heart open to what God is trying to show you.


PS - I remember that when I was in Oklahoma I found the flatness very tiring. But I have to say that your pics of roads in Kansas are beautiful.
PPS - Don't be too hard on the rest of the country for not being Massachusetts. :)

Momma said...

Hi Blake,
I am really enjoying your blogs every time you post one. Your pictures are great too! Thanks for passing your camera to one of your buddies so a picture of you could be taken. I love the picture on the sign. You look really good and happy. We sure hope you can see Leslie, Greg and your cousins while you are in CO. Give us a call and stay safe. You are being prayed for daily by so many my buddy and so are your funny "brit buds" so ride on and ride strong!! That was kind of goofy, but so am I!!
Love and blessings my son, Momma

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