June 1, 2001

6/1/01 Hutchinson, KS

54.6 miles

"Oh, what a beautiful morning, Oh, what a beautiful day!"

Not sure what song that comes from, but I was singing it for at least five miles. Woke up this morning to dew covering everything, but the sky was blue.

Surprised that I slept so well last night. I get nervous camping in city parks, especially in a big little town. You're pretty exposed and a lot of people are out cruising. My imagination keeps conjuring up kids looking for trouble. Plus, what would you think if you saw a bearded older guy just hanging out at the park?

Anyway, I must have been pretty tired, because I fell asleep fast. One good thing about city parks, though, not many noisy birds at 5AM.

As I said, I was on cloud nine with the sun on my back as I rode out of Newton. First stop, breakfast in Hesston. I stopped to talk with Maria Day out walking her dog. "Have I got a place for you," was her answer to where to eat. You know you're in the right place when you walk in and there are about a dozen farmers holding court. And to top it off, the staff at Daylight Donuts was high-energy fun. "I can't believe you're going 8500 miles!" they said.

Outside after a goooood cinnamon roll and a glazed twist, I talked with another cyclist from Hesston. She said she had just gotten back from a three-day tour and was getting ready to do her sixth BAK (Bike Across Kansas). "Going coast to coast is a dream of mine," she said. It's so great to hear of others with dreams of adventure. Talked with a construction worker yesterday who wants to hike the Appalachian Trail. I told him to "go for it!"

How many times can I say it? The ride was amazing. Clear skies, warm sun, riding along wheat fields golden with just a touch of green. I looked up and saw a water tower in the distance. But the only city ahead would be Buhler, ten-miles away. And sure enough, I rode by it ten-miles later.

Golden wheat for miles and miles...

I took a quick side trip through town, but it was too early for lunch. I should have stopped to take a break, but clouds began appearing and I got nervous.

During the ride to Hutchinson, the clouds looked like huge spaceships leaving a trail of vapor across the sky. Even when under them, I imagined the underside of an immense star cruiser.

Saw a few older bicycle racers out for training, but they seemed self-absorbed in their ride. Made the fifty miles to the edge of town by noon. Found an AYCE pizza buffet (so kill me - I love pizza). Second stop was Harley's Bicycles. Besides getting the key to the hostel, this was the first bike shop in 2000 miles, including KC and St. Louis, to have the cycling sandals I've been looking for. Tried them on, but they just didn't feel right. Bummer, they seemed like such a good idea.

The highlight of the day was the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center. You walk in the door to be overwhelmed by the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest plane ever built. It's huge! They actually built the building around it. I spent a couple of hours wandering the exhibits. For a guy who grew up dreaming of flight, planes, and rockets, it was great.

Moon landing...


F...a...s....t.....!

But I came outside to find the sky black, with sprinkles already started. Zoomed over to the hostel to settle in. I'm still so grateful for places like the Zion Lutheran Church for the help they give touring cyclists. I turned on the TV to see "severe weather" warnings interrupting programming. Seems as if the whole area is having thunderstorms with possible hail and tornadoes. I'm very relieved to be under a roof. Looks like I might have more of this tomorrow night. And I can tell you, you don't want to be caught out in the middle of Kansas during severe weather.

Well, it's just me here tonight alone with the TV or maybe my book. Got a long ride tomorrow.