The Wind Kicked My Ass - Ellinwood - 8/13/2006
 

Today, I can see for miles and miles and miles.  Remember back in New York and Ohio how Lake Erie extended beyond the horizon?  This is how it is in Kansas.  Miles and miles of just open fields and farms.

As usual, it was hot today.  At lunch, we ducked into a grocery store.  We asked the employees if they knew of a place in town where we could eat indoors and escape from the heat.  Sympathetic to our needs, one of the workers told us we could eat in the employee breakroom downstairs.  Yes, thank you!  Anything to get out of the heat.  While eating, I was catching some Zzzs in my seat because I was so tired from the strong side and diagonal headwinds this morning.

Here's a shot of Dave waiting for me on the side of the road because I was down to 5 mph from the constant headwinds.

Today was probably the hardest day of riding so far.  The headwind was so strong, I wanted to cry.  It's one of those windy days where if you stop pedaling, you would simply fall over because you were not going to go forward with any momentum - just backwards or stop dead in your tracks from the headwind.  It's so damn windy that when the 18-wheelers with holes in them (to carry livestock) pass you, it creates this awful wiffle ball effect where the wind is just swishing around and smacking you in the face.  It was a really bad day.  Every minute sucked.  Hills, I can deal with, because there is an end and hopefully a reward (downhill).  With wind, however, it just keeps on smacking you in the face with end and no reward.  I'd much rather have an uphill than a headwind.  How awful would it be to have a headwind going uphill?  Oi.  Here I am asking the skies, "Why?"

Water towers in the distance have become my best friend.  It tells me I'm approaching a city/town.  Today, we got as far as the Ellinwood water tower.  We still had 9 miles to go to the next town with accommodations, but we stopped here to get a water break.  While in the parking lot of a convenience store, this couple, Greg and Jane, in a pickup truck saw us and asked about our trip.  We told them the short story.  Greg asked us where we were staying the night.  Dave said that he didn't think I could make it to the next town where there were motels and asked if Greg knew of any local pastors.  Greg said he could put our bikes on his truck and take us 9 miles down the road.  But I declined because that would be cheating.  Then, seeing that I was completely wiped out, Greg offered us to stay with them.  Wow - our saviors.  After debating on whether it was cheating or not to put our bikes on their truck to go 2 miles in a non-West direction, I decided it was not cheating and that I'd had enough riding in the wind for one day.  So, we loaded the 2 bikes on the truck and drove to their house.  At home, we were greeted by their two sons (who couldn't believe that their parents just picked up 2 strangers on the side of the road), Sam and Bill, their two doggies, Cooper and Cricket, and Grandma and her friend.  The family also had cats but they don't count, as they were only there for the purposes of catching mice in the (farm) fields.

It was so nice to get out of the wind.  At home, we had showers, Internet time and a delicious dinner of hamburgers and bratwursts.  Jane noticed my finely manicured toes and asked how I could keep them so nice while on the road.  I admitted that I just pampered myself yesterday at the salon.

After dinner, Greg and Jane took us around town to look and learn about the oil industry (Greg is in the biz).  We looked at everything - the pump jacks, the drilling sites, the containers, the list goes on.  Here's Dave sticking finger in a stock tank.

Here I am opening a pump jack spigot.

We also wanted to look at a field of sunflower (since Kansas is the sunflower state) but when we got the field, all the sunflowers were pretty much dried up from the lack of rain.  Sadness.  How can I go through Kansas and not see a massive field of sunflower?

While driving around, we experienced the cruelty of man.  We came across 3 abandoned, abused puppies left in a field, presumably to die :-(  It was the saddest thing ever.  How can anyone ever hit another being and then just abandon them?  If you're not fit to be a parent, don't have puppies.  Greg called the cops and hopefully they were able to find the puppies and take them to the animal shelter.

On to happier events.  After our tour of Ellinwood, Kansas, we went to Dairy Queen for dessert.  Dave and I shared a Blizzard with Heath Bar crunches.  It was so good.  I don't know why I haven't had more Dairy Queen outtings.  In fact, this was my 1st Dairy Queen dessert on this entire trip.

Here we are, back at home.

One more note on how windy today was.  The way I've been documenting my trip is I dictate little notes into my cell phone voice recordings.  Then, when not on a bike, I transcribe the notes to a little journal.  Then, when I have Internet time, I write it up.  Today was so windy, I couldn't hear any of my notes on my cell phone.  All I heard was the wind.  I had to erase every single voice recording without hearing anything.  Hopefully I didn't leave anything out.