Thursday, July 18, 2013

Beloit, KS

Day 61: Thursday, July 18, 2013
Stockton to Beloit: 77 miles

Cycling? Like I said two days ago: more-de-same. Flat to rolling. Corn. Wheat. But cycling itself is not the interesting part. Today I found two interesting places to stay, and a big ball of twine.

Waconda Lake was formed by damming the Solomon River. It's a big recreation area, especially for hunters and fishers. The cabins shown below were right on my route. They look like something right out of the early days of motor touring. Old and run-down, they had been in poor shape until recently, when they were purchased by a lady who, if you look closely, you can see scraping paint on that orange-and-yellow one, with the help of an itinerant motorcyclist. She had completed remodeling several of the cabins, and gave me a tour. Each one has a different theme: hunting, fishing, motorcycling, trains, etc. If you're ever in this area, the Lion Heart Inn would be a nice place to stay. And the price was reasonable: $40 or $45 a night, if I recall correctly.

Lion Heart Inn
Cute cabins at the Lion Heart Inn

She had also purchased a Victorian mansion in the town of Glen Elder, just down the road, and was considering turning it into a B&B.

The world's largest ball of twine - about ten tons worth - is in Cawker City. Started in 1953 by a local farmer, it keeps growing. I can't say as much for the town.

big ball of twine
Big ball of twine in little town

The highway bypasses Glen Elder, so Jack and I totally skipped the town in 1981. This time, I didn't have a choice: replacement of a bridge on US 24 necessitated a detour through the town. I wish we'd seen the town back then.

It's small, but has an uncommonly high share of good-looking houses. And a castle. I spotted it when glancing down a cross street. And I had to stop.

Glen Elder's castle
Glen Elder's castle gas station was built in the mid-'20s.

The castle actually started life as a gas station, in the mid-'20s. Dan Winkel purchased it in 1975, and ran it as a gas station for a while. When that was no longer profitable, he shut it down and turned to other endeavors. For a while, it was a beauty salon. Then, a few years ago, he and his wife had the idea to turn it into a mini-B&B. The former office has been converted into a comfortable suite, complete with a pictorial history of the building.

castle flowers
The drive-through area features outside dining complete with garden.

the castle garage
The garage is still a garage, complete with tools,
and is home to Dan's 1956 Ford pickup.

But see that metal building behind the station? That, in modern terminology, is Dan's man-cave, and houses additional surprises.

Dan's Camaro and Chevelle
Dan's Camaro IROC-Z and Chevelle
are the centerpieces of his collection.

Dan's pool table
Dan restored this century-old pool table and the '70s juke box.

Dan's workbench
Dan's workbench looks cleaner and better-organized
than mine will ever be.

Wouldn't you love to spend the night here? I wanted to - but I also needed to make more miles - so on I went. Unfortunately, by the time I got to Beloit - the next town of any consequence - I needed supper and the light was failing: not very good conditions under which to start a search for a campground and prepare a meal. So I forked over the money for a night at the Super 8 and a meal at Pizza Hut.

Wheat field at twilight
Wheat field at twilight

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