May 29, 2001

5/29/01 Council Grove, KS

59.5 miles

During my travels along the country roads, I see many small cemeteries. Yesterday, all the cemeteries were bursting with the color of fresh flowers and bouquets. And I'd see families stopping by to remember loved ones gone. And even though I'm not there, I have Nancy's beautiful gravesite in my mind. But, more important, I have her smile in my heart and I know she watches over me.

Last night, as evening approached, the Drury family, all three generations, invited me over to their camp next door. They've been coming to this small lake for decades. They invited me to join them for dinner, and I ended up having seconds. We talked about everything under the sun long into the evening. I was surprised when I looked at my watch and it was after 10 P.M. This is why I'm out here alone on the road, to meet people and share a little part of me with them. But I get so much in return, more than I'll ever be able to pay back.

Grandmother Joanne Drury said there are some pretty spectacular sunrises on this lake and she was right. I rolled over to a bright red horizon this morning. Part of me admired the beauty while another part recited "red sky in morning, sailor take warning."

Sunrise in the midwest, Wow!

I slipped out of camp with one last hug for Joanne and was on the road. Not much wind, but the sky was pretty overcast. According to the map, I really wasn't going to go through many towns today, so when I saw a restaurant in Burlingame, I stopped. Seems every country restaurant is always filled with farmers in the morning. Had a great breakfast, but couldn't eat it all. The town has a huge brick-surfaced Main Street where the "Bell Mine #17" restaurant is.

As soon as I came out, it started to sprinkle, an omen of the day to come. I headed south for a ways, then turned west toward Council Grove. A good thing I stopped when I did, because the only towns I saw for the rest of the day were off route. I kept wanting to take a break somewhere, but didn't.

One thing about this flatland called Kansas, you can see weather for miles. All morning my horizon got darker and the clouds started to grow. I kept hoping I'd get to the city before the rain, but no such luck. About 10 miles out, it started, and it rained harder the closer I got to Council Grove. Three things in my favor: the wind was light, so I didn't get chilled; there was very little traffic at this time of day; and, last, I had a wide 3-foot shoulder the whole way into town.

Flat lands of Kansas

When I saw the Pizza Hut and remembered their AYCE buffet, I promptly pulled in. Unfortunately, it was packed with the lunch crowd. I found a spot over to the side where I could peel off some of my wet clothes like my jacket and helmet. I did get a table pretty quickly and ate as much as I could. Anita, the assistant manager, was very helpful on how to get to the lake campground and where the library was.

As I was getting ready to leave Pizza Hut, Mike Miller and his wife stopped me to ask about my trip. When I told him about the fundraiser, he promptly pulled out his wallet and handed me $5. People, complete strangers, can be so generous. Maybe I'll meet more like the Millers along the way. Only now I have to find an envelope to mail in the donation.

Since the library was closest, I went there first. Besides the librarians, one of the patrons, David, was very interested in my trip. He was also interested in hiking, so it didn't take him long to call up my website to explore my adventures.

After the library, I stopped by the Kaw Mission Historic Site and Museum. The mission was built in 1851. The museum had a ton of pictures and artifacts, mostly about the Kaw/Kansa Indians, but some about the early settlers. It struck me that the native costumes reminded me a lot of those from Nepal, Tibet, and other parts of Southeast Asia. After that, it was on to the campground.

If I learn nothing else from this trip, it's that the weather sure has a mind of its own and doesn't follow any rules. For the last week, the storms have come southeast across Kansas. This afternoon, they changed direction, coming out of the southwest. That must be so I'll have a slight head wind on my ride tomorrow.

Got talking to the campground host, Bill Zimmerman, and he was a wealth of information about my ride tomorrow. He lives in Strong City, but said he was at one time the mayor of Matfield Green. He also told me to stop by the café in Cassoday and ask for Debbie. Looks like tomorrow will be even shorter than today, and hopefully that will give me some time to explore the history of this area. That is, if the rain gods can cooperate.

The plan is to stop in Matfield Green at the bar & grill and ask how to get to Carol's farm. She's a friend of one of the ICU nurses that I work with, but she doesn't have a phone. I just hope she's home. If that doesn't work, I'll probably head into Cassoday and camp at the city park.