Sunday, July 21, 2013

Northwest of Topeka, KS

Day 64: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Wamego to Northwest of Topeka: 33 miles

Today was made for cycling! Clear skies, balmy temperatures, a nice tailwind. It was a great day to rack up the miles. John took me out for breakfast, then gave me a tour of the airport and his airplanes, drove me by the nursery, and showed me the RV-7 kit airplane his son was assembling. Even though it was noon when I left, I could easily have made my daily quota. But another mini-adventure was in the works.

nine-foot corn
Gorgeous corn crop just outside Wamego - nine feet tall.
Can you spot my bicycle?

I had by this time decided to take the Katy Trail across Missouri. It would save the grief of the Ozarks hills and the narrow roads with no shoulders. And there was nothing in particular that I wanted to see between Wamego and the Katy Trail. So it was my intention to get to Clinton, MO as fast as I could. So it was US 24 to Topeka, where I would turn south and east.

St. Mary's College in the town of St. Mary's has a checkered history. I found the World War I memorial,shown in the photo below, interesting. Just seconds after I snapped the photo, a nun in full habit came out the door of that building, and started walking straight my way. I thought she was gunning for me, until she turned down another path.

St. Mary's "ruins"
These "ruins" at St. Mary's College are a World War I memorial.

Cycling along on this salubrious day, moving at a good clip and intent on making it to the other side of Topeka before dark, I heard a "Hello, biker!" from the front yard of a house. Waving back, I kept on pedaling. But, after due consideration (five seconds), I turned around. Who knows where a chance meeting will lead?

In this case, it led to an interesting conversation, then to my being invited inside for some refreshment, then to my being invited to spend the night. Even though it was only about 4:30, it was an offer I couldn't refuse - mainly because it was cheaper than staying in a motel in Topeka, but also because it was turning out to be another one of those cool experiences.

Joe is a cyclist - which is why he hailed me. He and his wife Staci got caught in the job-and-housing crunch, and were starting over. They have a small place that is situated on a corner of a soybean field. They are, among other things, raising laying hens. And it's quite a crop. Joe named all the breeds for me, and I wish I could remember them all, but it's two weeks later and I didn't take notes. They also have some Peking ducks, the ones with the crests, and some runner ducks. He calls them that because they think the Peking ducks are their mothers, and run after them. And he has a hen that doesn't lay, but he keeps her because she's at the bottom of the pecking order, and that keeps another of the hens from being at the bottom of the order, which would upset her and make her not as productive.

And there's a rooster, who does a good job of looking after his flock and sounding warnings whenever he spots a hawk. When that happens, all the chickens run for cover. Joe says that he's lost a chicken to a hawk, so it's a real danger.

Joe's chicken coop
Joe's chickens live in high style.

So I got to spend the night with the chickens. Well, almost. Joe herds them back into the coop at sundown. But one of their cats did wander over and decided to settle in with me.

And Staci brought out a plate of spaghetti. And Joe fetched a chair, and a power cord so I could recharge everything, and I was in heaven.

camping with the chickens
Camping with the chickens.
That supper almost had me asleep.

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