Location: Council Grove, KS (camped at Fairgrounds)
At six o’clock this morning, several cars pulled up to the covered picnic area where Brian and I had made camp. I heard several women’s voices at first, and then I heard a couple men. One of the women said, “Someone is sleeping here. There are their tents and here are their bikes.” I said Good Morning loudly and clearly from within my tent as I put on my clothes and climbed out into the black morning to investigate. They were startled at first, and I was groggy, probably looking rough and dangerous to them. The many people stood on the opposite side of the shelter from us, a few picnic tables away. It was still dark, and I couldn’t see their faces. The men I could see and hear at work. They were frantically trying to sweep standing puddles of water from the sidewalks. They said they had a big day today. The antique car show was being held at the park. The men were stressed because the park had flooded in the night. Water stood on all the grassy areas I could see, and the many security lights in the park bounced glares and reflections off the saturated lawn. The people were courteous and apologetic, and I felt rested so I didn’t have much problem packing up early and heading out. Brian groaned a bit. The clouds still hung thick over the town, but they weren’t raining on us. Though the sun had risen, it was dark when Brian and I left the squeegee men at the park and headed to Wal-Mart, the only grocery store open at 7:00am on a Saturday morning.
I bought the usual processed foods, but I avoided chips. I’ve decided not to eat anymore chips on this trip. I have fallen into the bad habit of buying snacks instead of eating the meals I carry. When I’d get to a town, I’d grab a soda and a small bag of chips to hold me over to the next town or break. It isn’t a good habit to have, so I’m breaking it now. The sodas, though, I’ll still have. I’ve given up caffeine, so I mainly drink Sprite, which isn’t so bad for me.
We finished our shopping and both ate a box of cereal in the drizzling rain of the gray morning, sitting on the curb of the Wal-Mart parking lot. Sometimes our tendencies and behavior become indiscernible from those of a hobo, but I suppose that’s typical when you’ve no place to go.
Full on cereal and 2% milk, we headed out on the road. We had an uneventful thirty mile ride to Marion, where we had lunch in the park. We took a long lunch, around two hours. I wrote several postcards and ate while Brian napped. Afterwards, we were on the road again, set on Herington at twenty miles.
When we reached Herington, I was turned off by the look of the town and the attitudes of the people. I didn’t feel welcomed, and we had an increase in honks and name calling. Usually we get one honk or yell every couple of days, but around Herington we had several. I wasn’t disappointed when the police refused to let us stay in the city park. They weren’t very helpful or friendly either.
We headed east on Highway 56 to Council Grove, a larger, nicer, cleaner town. We stopped by the Sheriff’s office and received permission to camp at the fairgrounds. I was relieved, having stressed a bit about not finding a place to stay with only an hour or so of daylight left. I also didn’t want to tack any more miles onto the seventy-five we had already biked. We have found a shelter similar to last night at the fairgrounds, and I’m dead tired.