Day 40. La Crosse KS. | End: Phillipsburg KS. | Mileage 2158.3
Going to sleep, we prepared for the rain. It is always hot and uncomfortable with the rain fly on, but we bunkered down for what we thought was going to be a short night. Like a dog shaking about and hitting you with a spray of drops, we had only little spurts of rain. Annoyed and tired we tore the fly off (tent rain coat) at the first sign of open skies. Not minutes later, rain would pour down from the stars without any visible clouds above, yet it rained like a dog. Again we scramble to throw on the fly and return to our sleeping mats. I roll over facing the side of the tent, tired and full of anger. Here I would fall asleep, facing the tent wall like I was in time-out. The night became calm and my sleep began, nothing but the faint sound of crickets and the howling wind filled the background. 1:26am I was woken up not by rain or an intruder but by Dirk telling me to check the radar. He is a light sleeper, me…. quite the opposite. I opened an eye, turned on my phone and waited for it to load. Finally hearing what troubled Dirk, I soon too was nervously waiting for the radar to load. The wind was vigorously trying to flip the tent and throw it down the road. If we were not in it, we would have witnessed this. Knowing Kansas was famous for their tornadoes, the worst was on our minds as we ran about moving the tent and bikes. Seconds were agonizing as my terrible service ticked along. The radar was clear, just the remnants of a storm. The sudden excitement dissolved into the night and I closed my eyes hoping to get back to sleep. By now we had moved the tent under a pavilion. Disturbed by the lights and the horde of insects flying around them, Dirk was rolling about. Not more that 3 minutes and I was knocked out.
The morning was though. We packed, ate and mounted the ponies. Deciding our method of navigating was much more reliable than the junk on line, we headed north and the town of Hays is stop number one. We rode the south wind into the town in a record time, climbing massive hills and stretches of road that the eyes couldn’t comprehend. Our determination developed from the need to wash our clothes. These things were not the most pleasant smelling anymore and aside from the town reeking like an episode of dirty jobs… we fit in just right.
Heading out again after the laundry nap, we met the heat at the top of a 3-mile long hill. The incline wanted to just punch us in the face with the 101-degree temp. While pedaling down the road I noticed we were the outcasts, the crazed bearing the heat by choice… or kind of. The cows would stare at us from under their shelter, a lone tree on the plains. It was beautiful country as I cycled, a mixture of golden fields and blue skies dotted with the occasional cloud.
As we exited our last watering hole, we set out for our last 25-mile stretch. An ominous cloud was in the distance, hanging and growing. I figured we would beat it into town, as I have gotten use to the weather patterns here in Kansas. As we pushed north the storm followed moving northeast. The shoulder opened up and Dirk and I cruzed down the road joking around and talking smack. The hills became fun as we were hitting some nice downhill and the sun was behind the clouds. With Phillipsburg in sight I could smell the subway and it drove me nuts. As we opened the door, I ordered with 5 seconds, knowing the menu by heart I developed one sentence to describe the entire order.
I barely inhaled my first half before the storm caught us. Hanging low in the sky and throwing lighting in all directions, we hauled ass down the road. Stopping at a motel just before the end of town, we checked the price and ended up chatting with the tenant for just a minute too long. Not within budget and no promises of a deal, we booked it to the park. Watching the rain curtains dump their load in the trees just beyond the park, I did not hesitate to speed my way up the hill. Like an action scene in a hit Hollywood flick, Dirk and I throw the tent up in record time, lightning going nuts above and the claps of thunder so loud they shook the ground. Seconds before that rain curtain engulfed the hill, we run the bikes under a signpost, the only structure with a roof big enough for two people to hide under. There we waited the storm out. Winds so strong, the fellow tents in the area were blown flat. Our tent stood strong, but for how long. All during this chaos, the mosquitoes snuck in and destroyed us. No mercy for what we have just been through. Then the rain settled down for a moment, running into the restroom, there we spend the second half of our storm.
The night ended with us being invited out to eat by some road workers that were also camping in the area. This man was one of the funniest dudes I have met. “You take a redneck country boy like me off my patch of dirt… put me on concrete… it sure doesn’t work.” He treated us to some pizza and wings, those of which were hotter than hell. Despite that fact, he just kept eating all the sauce and turning fire red. Dirk and him were going at it, eating and warning each other about how much their butts were going to hurt in the morning after. I do not want to take the chance of burning my nose hairs so tomorrow; I don’t think I will ride behind Dirk. We ate, finished and headed home. The man points out a rainbow, one of which we all doubt him about until he slams on the breaks in the middle of the road and pointed, “look”… we were damned to see a faint rainbow. There he yells, “Taste the rainbow bitches!!!” Haha.
Back at the tent, the grass was comfortable under the sleeping bag and I fell asleep quick.