DAY 45

April 28, 1999

Getting up later than I’d wanted to, I headed downstairs for breakfast. MMMMM!!! That was delicious! I was wanting to hurry up and make some distance today but I was finding it hard to motivate myself. Now that it is staying light much later maybe I’ll just start leaving later. I’ve never been a morning person anyway.

Clovia’s husband came into the room as he was getting ready to leave for work. He wished me luck and then asked if he could contact the paper for a story. "The people in Ellsworth would love it." I said "sure." At this point in my trip, I’m now wanting to share this experience with everybody. The reporter showed up around 8am and I was on the road by 9am. The wind was blowing to the south on this cold, cloudy, 45 degree day. I rode back up to 140 and then turned west. It was at this point, 140 turned into "Old Hwy. 40." This part of the ride offered nothing scenic, it was quite boring and I was cold. The cold wind gave me another one of those headaches I always get in the cold. It was at my right temple region where the wind was hitting me. After about 15 miles, I saw a sign…"Wilson-Czech Capitol of Kansas". Riding into town I was immediately greeted by a cheerful "Hello". I looked over and saw a gentleman in a small car lot. After asking for a good place to eat, he recommended "Al’s Bar and Grill". Riding into town I saw the sign and stopped at the front door. I tried to open it but it was locked….Darn! Looking inside I could see some people so I went to the side door. Sure enough, they were open :-)   Inside, I was immediately met at the door by three exceptionally nice ladies. They saw my bike and wanted to know where I was from, where I was going, and why. After sitting in a booth, Denise, my waitress, sat down across from me and talked some more. We talked about my ride and I asked many questions about the town.

I ended up ordering a grilled chicken salad, baked potato, and hot tea. It was excellent! The salad was served on a giant plate with slices of seasoned chicken breast(hot off the grill) covering it. Mmmmm!! It was great to eat a good meal with someone to sit and talk to for a little while. Denise took an interest in what I was doing and seemed to admire me for taking on the challenge. I told her anyone can do this, and gave her examples of people in their 60’s and 70’s going on long rides. She told me about someone I should stop and see in town, Peppy Joe the barber. He is one of the old Czech’s in town. He still cuts hair and is a man with many stories to tell. Denise also mentioned that the Czech festival is held the last weekend of July.

When I went to pay for my meal at the register she wouldn’t let me! Wow, am I still dreaming? Kick me harder to wake me up! Such a break from the miserable cold, this really makes it worth it. All of the great people I keep meeting help keep me motivated on days like this.

I rode to the barber shop but it was closed :-(  While I stood across the street taking pictures, Denise appeared at the barber shop. She was disappointed that it was closed too. Then I was led to another store that an old Czech lady owns. This lady was recently featured in the Kansas magazine and would be another one to talk to. The store was closed too and the sign said "Having lunch at senior center, be back at 1pm". It wasn’t quite 12 yet and I didn’t want to wait for over an hour. There was rain in the forecast so I really needed to get going. The town was small but the Bohemian architecture made it very unique. As I was leaving, I was stopped by an older man, short in stature. He asked where I was going and we talked for a few minutes. His name was Paul and he was as friendly as the rest of the people I met here. Paul told me about some of his travels around the world and even invited me to stay in his spare room.That was very tempting, a free place to stay. You know, I could spend several days in all of these small towns and really enjoy it but I would never make it to Alaska. So, I continued north on 232, into headwinds.

After passing I70, the incredible views made the cold bearable. The road was very hilly and from the top of the first big hill, I looked across miles of rolling hills with limestone rock jutting out in places. This is not what I’d been told about Kansas. Maybe the southwest part of Kansas is flat and boring but this is very scenic.

I followed 232 to 18 and then headed west on 18. There was a sign for the town of Lucas which indicated that it was the home of the "Garden of Eden" and the "Grass Roots Art Center". Well, I had to check these two places out. First I stopped at the Garden of Eden. It was a house with incredible figures surrounding it. Initially it was just going to be "take a few photos and be on my way." But Jean wanted to make sure I knew some of the details. He gave me a tour of the place and I was very glad he did. When you first see the home you might think, OK, just a bunch of figures and statues made by some eccentric guy. After learning about Samuel P. Dinsmoor, (1843-1932) I realized that he was not only an artist, but a genius. I was so impressed with this place that I’m going to have to add several pages with photos here to share this man’s vision. Hopefully, I can inspire others to come out and learn how he told many stories, from Biblical to political, through his art. It will take some time to write all of the incredible details so I’ll wait until I’m stopped for an extra day or two.

Next stop was the Grass Roots Arts Center. There, I was astounded even more, at some of the grass roots artists. This was my type of art! I took several photos and will add more info later. Leaving the Grass Roots Art Center, I was offered a tour into the backyard of another artist. The name escapes me now but she used concrete to re-create the landscapes of several places she’d visited. Adding different colors to the concreteas it was mixed, she was able to create surreal landscapes in her backyard.

By this time I was hungry so I rode to the "K-18 Café". It was locally owned and my waitress, Amanda (a young high school girl), was the owner’s daughter. While talking to an older couple in the booth next to me, a lady from a group of 6 sitting at another table, began to ask me some questions. Her name was Leigh and before I left she wanted to take a picture of me. After she took mine, I went back inside and took a picture of her and her friends. They were all very nice and Leigh warned me of all the hills I’d be riding through.

Outside the café, Lois stopped me and told me about the Geodetic Center of North America just outside of town. This is the exact point for the center of the continent. There’s a government survey marker to indicate the place where all maps in North America begin. "It’s just the starting place of all our maps, the origin of all accurate land measurement in North America". (Quoted from text given to me by Lois) This point was of interest to me since I’m on a cross continent bike ride. The location of this point is about 12 miles north of town and on private property, Meade's Ranch. The property is owned by family members of Lois’. Unfortunately, it’s located in a pasture down a long gravel road. Since I can’t ride my bike out in the pasture, Lois offered to get some information and bring it to me.

The town had no camping and just one motel, The Lucas Country Inn. It wasn’t too bad for the price, just $27.00. Later that evening Lois dropped off the info she’d told me about. Among the papers was a photocopied picture of her parents, taken in 1930, standing on the marker.

Today - 39.06 miles
Total -  2281 miles
Avg. Speed - 8.5mph

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