After our late arrival in Ness City last night, Terry and I were rather groggy this morning. But with the delights of the Derrick Inn to look forward to we eased our tired legs out of bed, walked past the mock oil derrick in the atrium (this such a weird concept for a hotel – do they have a sister hotel with a nuclear reactor for guests to sip beers around?) and went downstairs for something apparently called breakfast.
Stale cheerios, Sunny D and empty bagels later we were not ready for the off. Things got worse when we checked into the local gas station to fill up our water bottles and were charged 20 cents per bottle. Outrageous! This was the first time we’d been charged in 2,000 miles and compounded our view that Ness City was somewhere we needed to leave.
We weren’t the only ones. Since the 1930s the city and surrounding area have suffered from chronic population decline – rural exodus that has seen only 15 new homes built in the last decade. It’s a long way from the time the four storey Ness County Bank was built in 1890 earning it the name ‘Skyscraper of the Plains’.
Mike, Jerry and Jonathan, equally disappointed in ‘breakfast’ were in a local diner, so Terry and I pushed on in the direction of Dighton where we all stopped for lunch. This was a perfect day for cycling, little wind, cool air and flat roads and the five of us rode together in convoy for the afternoon, Mike on his recumbent keeping us entertained with his loudspeaker system blasting the Beastie Boys and Muse across the Kansas Plains.
It was one of those days when you just couldn’t imagine a better way of travelling – a thought boosted by the fact that we are fast approaching The halfway point in the TransAm – Pueblo, Colorado.
Perhaps we should have pushed on further, but with some heavy cycling days behind us and the offer of a roof over our heads at a local gym (the Athletico Club) which rather bizarrely also housed a local electrical company, we pulled in after 55 miles for showers a chill out afternoon and beers, followed by an excellent Mexican meal in town downed with the largest Margaritas ever seen.
There followed a curious night in which we all slept in a corridor together only to be woken at midnight by a man and his young daughter who also apparently lived in the building (this seemed the only conclusion since neither were equipped to go to the gym, nor looked likely to start re-wiring the joint). The young girl must have been rather traumatised at finding five men sleeping outside her front door, so much so that she walked around us in the dark several times during the night and even stood on one of the sofas in the early hours to stare at Mike.
Oh and there were two dogs in the building also, a husky-like creature who would have terrified us in Kentucky, but was as soft as anything, and her three week old puppy, so large and overweight we could only conclude it had eaten the rest of the litter. If we have hung around any longer, I’m sure we would have been next on the menu.
Miles today: 55
Miles since First Landing: 2058