Saturday, June 2, 2012

May 31, 2012: PAP Day 6, Greensburg to Medicine Lodge, KS

We had planned to visit the Kansas Meteorite Museum outside of Greensburg this morning, but we had some difficulty locating the access road, and when we did, we found it to be a dirt road, made even less appetizing as a result of the previous night’s heavy rain.

We soldiered on in an easterly direction, against an increasingly strong northeast wind. The effort was such that we stopped to rest four times on this 30 mile leg. I learned a new safety tip on one of those stops – don’t sit downwind of your bike, unless the bike is already lying on the ground. Luckily, I was just startled when it blew over on top of me. We were sustained in our struggle by the expectation that the wind would remain from the North, and that the second half of our 60 mile route would be driven by a strong tailwind.

It turned out just as we had hoped. It took us three hours to ride the first 30 miles of the route, and just 90 minutes to do the remaining 30! Flying along at 25 mph, Fred experienced Bike Bliss – a transcendent state that in this case seemed to be triggered by the tailwind and a dramatic change in terrain (from flat fields of grain to hilly, twisty terrain with many more trees).

Kansas is, of course, known for its beef. We have ridden past countless feed lots, and been blown hither and thither by countless livestock trucks. Restaurants in Kansas seem to do their part to push the beef life-style, which often makes it difficult for me to find a meal that appeals. On this day, the closest thing to "my kind of food" I could find was fried shrimp. I like shrimp and eat shrimp often, but I eat very, very little fried food of any kind. A couple of weeks back, at the Georgia Tandem Rally, I found myself facing a huge basket of french fries and fried scallops. I mistakenly assumed they would be broiled, which shows how out of touch with reality I was. The default food preparation method in the South is, of course, deep-fried.

That dose of fried was a foreshadowing of Day 6, on which I had (good) fried shrimp at the Uptown Cafe in Pratt, and, later, a typical basket of frozen popcorn shrimp and fries at a little spot in Medicine Lodge. The latter put me over my limit, resulting in an deep-fried overdose. I got into bed later in a state of nausea. That brings me to our accommodations at The Lodge Motel.

The previous night in Greensboro was spent in a beautiful, new, ultra-clean, and ultra-comfortable Best Western Plus. In Medicine Lodge, we returned to the realm of motel muck, recently seen at the Ken-Ark in Lakin. On check-in, the proprietor, henceforth known as “Stinking Pile of Shit” (SPOS), immediately tried to talk us into exchanging our reservation for two rooms for a single room with a second bedroom, but only one bathroom. Neither Fred nor I believe that anyone (other than those under marital obligation) should have to endure each other's respective arrays of auditory and olfactory nocturnal productions. We therefore nixed SPOS’s suggestion after a cursory look at the room. In the end we settled on one room that the carpenter was supposed to finish this afternoon, and another, older room. Fred made the reservation, so he got dibs and bet on the carpenter.

We off-loaded our gear in my room while construction continued in Fred's. We then rode into the sad little town of Medicine Lodge, with its abandoned storefronts and a shrinking population. Like many other towns in the region, it is enjoying a temporary boom of sorts as the petroleum industry sends hordes of contractors back to the area’s oil and gas deposits for a second try. At present it is difficult to find vacancies even in the most undesirable motels because they are all selling out to itinerant petro-industry workers driving large 4x4 pickups full of equipment.

On our return to the motel, I showered and washed my clothing, then sat on the bed and caught site of daylight framing the closed door to the room. After an bit of inspection, I headed off to locate SPOS, from whom I expected and got no particular concern or compensation of any kind. In glum, problem-solving mode, I inquired whether maybe he had some duct tape or something I could use to prevent a swarm of insects joining me in my room when night falls. He brightened immediately, rightly concluding that I was not going to resort to physical problem resolution techniques, and started pulling various rolls of tape from behind the desk. I chose a wide roll of packing tape and used it to seal myself into the room when I returned to it later to ponder my nausea, and to wonder if sleep would come. (Turned out that the tape did the job, I did fall asleep, and I awoke feeling much better.)


After sealing myself in for the night.

Once the construction in Fred’s room was completed I paid him a visit and found that his room was relatively acceptable. The idea that SPOS was charging the same amount for the two rooms started to get under my skin. I therefore tracked him down and made another fruitless attempt to shame him into some acknowledgement that his approach to inn-keeping was dishonest, immoral, and unethical. He made it clear that he didn’t care at all whether I was happy or not, nor was he sorry to have put me in a defective room without pre-rental disclosure. A plague on your house, you sorry excuse for a human being!

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