Sunday, April 26, 2015
It's been almost two years since I did this one. A bike overnight to Lawrence, that is. Right after I did it last, I had to have open heart surgery (a double bypass). My wife, who turned me on to touring in the first place crashed her bike right before my surgery, suffered a nasty brain injury and hasn't had the stamina for touring since.
If not for that, I'd probably have been out on tour by now, before she got hurt she did it every chance she got. A few months before she got hurt, she did a 170 mile leg with stops only to pee, eat and drink coffee, in a snowstorm. For that matter, a few years ago on Thanksgiving she and I rode to Lawrence to just eat a meal and rode back the same day.
Before I left, Corinna asked for my camera so she could document my departure. SLRs aren't really very well suited, generally, to the 'selfie' but she managed one.
Anyway, I loaded it all up with everything I'd need to camp at Clinton Lake on the far side of Lawrence. Brought my mushroom books and mesh bag, too, so I could scour the woods around the lake for morels. It rained pretty good the first couple hours I was out, a lot more and later than the forecast had led me to expect, and when it dried out, what came next was a strong north wind.
On the way out, I saw a Red Neck Tale Gate. I waved to the guy, he was filling up at a gas station in Bonner Springs. He explained to me that he had bought the truck without a tailgate, balked at the price even the junkyards wanted for a replacement, then decided to make one out of a discarded closet door. His wife told him, 'You are such a redneck!.' So he wrote what you see on it, and she said, 'Please tell me you misspelled 'tail' on purpose!'
By the time it quit raining, a viscous north wind had manifested itself, and while it dried me it also chilled me considerably. I could have done some wardrobe adjustments but dressing by the roadside seems such a hassle and it was right on the cusp of comfort either way. Bare arms cold, long sleeved t-shirt hot, that kinda weather. But as I got into Lawrence, I was kind of dreading the whole pitching a tent thing, and someone had said there was more rain on the way that night, and I know a few people in and around Lawrence, but nobody I know so well I can call them up and couch surf with 45 minutes notice. I passed the Airport Motel, a seedy looking joint on the fringe of Lawrence, and as I did, I said to myself, if that's under $50 a night, stay there.
Motel 6 used to be like thirty bucks, but lately I can't recall getting a motel room for less than $75ish. So I really didn't expect that it would be under $50, seedy as it looks. I have to have electricity for my CPAP, so even camping at Clinton costs something like $17 or $18. When the guy said it was fifty but I get five back the next day as a key deposit, I was sold.
It's a bit of a dump, honestly. I'm not faulting them saying so, if they spent anything on updates and upgrades, they couldn't possibly rent rooms so cheaply. There were cigarette burns on the carpet and vanity, the sink was crackled, a door was missing from the vanity and climate control was a window AC and a space heater. But it was clean-ish and as far as I can tell innocent of resurgent bed bugs. There was a lot of static on the TV (which was probably at least 30 years old), but I wasn't there for a TV.
I dropped off my bags and went riding around Lawrence that evening. There were lots of outdoor parties happening and I scored a free beer at one just for my helmet mohawk. Which was the opposite of a little incident that happened on the way in.
Not long after the redneck tailgaite, I got buzzed by a monster SUV in Edwardsville. This was in a stretch where K32 has no shoulder, and I got passed by hundreds of cars who thought to change lanes but then this one Ford Excursion passes me so close the mirror barely cleared my head. It happens, you get over it. But this time, the car slows and turns at the next corner, into a driveway. I was pretty rattled, so I stayed in the street to ensure a civil discourse. At this point, I'm thinking educate. I'm like, you passed me awful close back there I'm just trying to get there alive. And she said, 'Oh bullshit!' At which point I realized education wasn't in the cards.
"You stupid cunt!" I said and rode off. I couldn't think of something more offensive to say or I'd have said something else, but the response I got was bizarre. She called out, "I'll pray for Jesus to forgive you!"
Jesus to forgive me for calling her a stupid cunt? Or for riding a bicycle through Edwardsville.
I was a little shaken up but I was really, really hungry, and I thought there was a little pizza joint in Edwardsville though it has since become a Mexican restaurant. As I was locking my bike up to go in, one of Edwardsville's Finest came and asked me if I had been on Eastbound K-32 lately. I said yes, and he asked if I had called in a disturbance, and I was like, no, that would be the stupid cunt who almost hit me and didn't understand why I had a problem with that.
I'm like, dude, maybe I shouldn't have called her a stupid cunt, but if your response to being called that is to say you hope Jesus will forgive me and then call 911, you're pretty much proving to the world that you're a stupid cunt.
Maybe I wasn't quite that smug about it, but almost. Really, if charges were going to be pressed, it'd be me charging her with attempted vehicular assault and the notion was tempting. Normally you don't get to confront these goons because, let's face it, I couldn't catch a fat man on a scooter with a fully loaded touring bike. Unless the fat man on the scooter was 100 feet from home and turned into his driveway.
By the time the other cop (who went to the stupid cunt's house) cleared the call and I was asked what I wanted to do, press charges or what, I was like, all I want to do is eat some fajitas and ride my ass to Lawrence. It's not like the stupid cunt would learn if I pressed charges, she'd just gain a story about how put upon she was by the maniacs riding bikes on her highway.