Part 4/Curves Please!

Day 6 began rudely as winds rattled my tent and woke me at 3:30 in the morning. I stepped outside nervously expecting to find that the storms to the south had finally found me but instead looked up at a gorgeous star filled sky. I was now more than half a day's ride ahead of schedule and figured I'd do another day and a half today with the intent on camping at Glen Elder State Park in north/central Kansas. This would put me a day up on original riding plans.

I was on the road by 5:45 and took a swing by the dam on the North Platte where I had camped before heading south on I-25 towards the secondary route 26 that would take me back into Nebraska.

North Platte River looking north:

The wind never died down, my gas mileage suffered, and I fought through mind numbing wind, 90 degree temperatures, incredibly straight roads and amber waves of topographic sameness across eastern Wyoming, western Nebraska and into Kansas. It has got to be pretty dull when the highlight of the day is lunch and finally the world's biggest ball of twine! Lunch at Ole's Big Game Steakhouse was entertaining and cheap. Prime rib on sourdough along with a coke for less than 10 bucks and all kinds of dead animals staring at me the whole time. Ole must have been the anti-Noah who took it upon himself to kill one of every kind of animal known to man. The taxidermy was first class. I passed close to the geographic center of the conterminous US in Lebanon, KS and as I drew closer to my intended camp site I had visions of a beautiful Cottonwood filled camp with cool shade.

Ole's in Paxton Nebraska:

Center of the U.S.A. (almost):

Just before reaching Glen Elder State Park I did a double take at a pavilion housing what was proclaimed to be "The World's Largest Ball of Twine". I made an illegal U-turn in Cawker City, KS to take a picture. This ball of twine was at least 9 feet in diameter!


Glen Elder turned out to be less than what I had envisioned. It was a containment pond that had constant 20-25 mph winds blowing hot air across it into the camp area. I stopped behind some shelter in the lee of the wind to lube my chain (why didn't I buy that Scott Oiler?) and was immediately attacked by a swarm of killer mosquitoes. It was 6:00pm and they wanted $14.50 for the pleasure of being eaten alive at their campsite. With visions of West Nile sickness dancing in my already wind-numbed brain that seemed like a pretty good down-payment towards a motel room in Salina, KS less then 100 miles away. By 8:45 I was ensconced in a Best Western in Salina. My notes from this day's ride are brief. I referred to it as Hell Day and had run down another 645 miles by riding in straight lines and making 45 degree turns. I fell asleep dreaming of curves and wanting to get out of the plain states as quickly as possible.