24 Hours in...The Middle of Nowhere (USA Day 45)
Normally, our rest days aren’t really that restful: we’ll do some sightseeing, walk a good few miles and suffer from an endorphin-low probably owing to lack of exercise. We were determined to break this today, not least because we’d chosen a place to rest where no sightseeing would be necessary.
Nathan, our host, has offset the emptiness of the countryside by bringing the world to his little slice of Kansas. He makes his own adventures by chasing tornados, tracking down and cycling with as many TransAmerica Racers as he can find, and hosting travellers from across the world. The many wooded acres surrounding his family’s cool ranch boasted hummingbirds, bluebirds, martens, chickens, snakes (apparently), cows and a couple of good, good dogs. One of them, Blaire, was a proper bouncer, so keen on humans that she’d torpedo straight at you and fully nuzzle.
We ate copious amounts of his mother’s banana bread (delicious), went clay pigeon shooting with real actual guns (terrifying) and scored one hit each (skilful), then drove out to visit an enormous steam shovel (impressive) that weighs 11 million pounds (fat). It was a genuinely lovely day off from riding, marred only by the unfortunate moment when Blaire bounced a little too high for a frisbee and landed badly, popping her little doggy leg out of joint and having to be rushed off to dogpital.
It was a reminder that real life goes on even as we swan from town to town, drinking their coffee, sampling their banana bread. How easy to fall into a perspective, as a cycle tourer, that each new face is a happy snapshot and not a continuous existence, or a collection of them, each with their own problems and broken legs.
As afternoon drifted into evening and we cancelled a proposed fishing trip in favour of fretting about the dog, we sat about, eating marshmallow-filled chocolate cake, discussing travels both experienced and planned. The desire to escape continuous existence and turn it back into a series of tableaus is too strong. So tomorrow we leave again.