Day 63: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Clay Center to Wamego: 56 miles
For breakfast, I headed back to the town square. On the way, I passed the old railroad depot. Although both it and the grain elevator are no longer served by the railroad, it was not a beached whale: a business has moved in, and maintains it in excellent condition.
|The Clay Center depot is still functional,|
although as business offices.
Clay Center has a Carnegie library. As I perched on its steps to pick up my email, a passer-by noticed my laden bike and stopped his car to chat. He was also a bicyclist, and we had a nice conversation about cycling. He recommended the bakery for breakfast, and that's where I headed next.
The town square, with its city offices, was across the street from the bakery. Saturday is farmers' market day, and business was in full swing by the time I was done with breakfast. I bought a few tomatoes, and was given more veggies outright, including a couple of ears of sweet corn, at some other stalls. (It wasn't until two days later that I got around to eating the corn - raw - while resting in a farm lane at the side of the road, but it was still tender and sweet.)
|The Clay Center farmers' market was small but busy.|
|These three wise guys gave me some veggies.|
Manhattan is a college town, and was a stop for us in 1981, because Guy was biking to graduate school in Manhattan. Back then, we spent the night with Dave and Sandy - Dave had spent several hours working on Jack's bike, then took us home for a meal and a place to sleep. I looked them up on the Internet before I left on this trip, and found that they had gotten married and were still in Manhattan. But I was anxious to get on to Wamego, to visit John, my old Air Force buddy. So, even though I was flirting with rain showers, I skirted Manhattan and made for Wamego.
Although I had wanted to fly when I enlisted, I ended up being a meteorological programmer for four years, stationed at Global Weather Central at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. I guess I should be thankful for that, as it was a relatively safe position during the time of the Vietnam War. John, on the other hand, had a full flying career with the Military Airlift Command and a much more adventuresome tour of duty. After serving his five years, he returned to Wamego to help his father run an alfalfa-drying business.
|John used to run the alfalfa-drying facility with his father.|
Now, it produces custom feed mixes.
And he obtained his private pilot's certificate, IFR and multi-engine ratings, and instructor's certificate. Oh, yes - he also acquired a Cessna 120 - a two-place tail-dragger with a cloth-covered wing, made in the 1940s.
|John has owned this Cessna 120 for over 30 years.|
It's beautifully maintained.
That was roughly the same time that I also bought a Cessna 120, from the widow of a man who had caught the tail wheel on a power line when landing at a small field, and had nosed in. (No, he didn't die in the crash. But he never got around to fixing the plane.) I had started taking lessons while in the service, but never obtained my certificate. And I sold the plane before I got it airworthy, when I got a job and had to move. So I was really envious of John when we passed through in 1981, and he showed us his 120.
In 2013, though, I had even more reason to be envious: he had added two more planes to his collection: a four-place Cessna 172 that is quite a bit faster than the 120, and a Luscombe Silvaire, a tail-dragger that looks a lot like the 120, but is smaller and slower.
|Over the years, John has added this Cessna 172 to his stable...|
|...as well as this Luscombe 8A.|
It looks like a smaller version of the 120.
John also rides a bicycle occasionally. He has done the Bike Across Kansas ride with his son. But he has put more touring miles on his Harley than on any self-powered two-wheeler. At the moment, his bike was laid up: he had split a ring, which then tore up the engine. There went $4000.
|As you can tell by his house sign, John drives a Harley.|
But he has also biked across Kansas with his son.
John left the alfalfa-drying business to escape some disagreements with his partners, and went into the nursery business. At the time, he knew virtually nothing about it, but built it into a first-class operation, selling nursery stock all across the state. He sold the business for a tidy sum - and the new owners sat back and let the business run itself into the ground.
Then, in 1992, he started all over again. And that one's still going strong.
|John's family has run the 5-H Greenhouse for 20 years.|