Sunday, August 16, 2009

Austin to Wichita August 11

It's Tuesday morning. I've been thinking about this trip for months but could never commit because of pending issues at home, and in my heart. I can't write about the biggest thing going on in my life. Know that I am dragging around a ball and chain on my feet, and Monday I had a long standing appointment. With it over I was free as I wanted to be. I went to bed Monday not knowing what I would do. I was restless as I have ever been. It felt wrong to go. It felt wrong to stay. I needed to shake something loose no matter what. Introduce some chaos into life's stream. If you want your situation to mutate into the unexpected then get up and go and meet life head on. I had done all I could do about the unnamed affair, all to no avail. I cried all my tears and lived for weeks as if my increasingly shriveled heart would fix itself. Ah, that organ, so sensitive, so easily ruined, so in need of renewal. Tuesday morning my waking thought was, OK, let's get it done. Do something even if it is wrong. We are going to leave all this behind and maybe nothing good will happen. But at least I can still make something happen. If you want a new form of life you have to plant a lot of seeds in order to get one mutation. So, as I had my morning coffee I packed up the "K" bike and by seven thirty I was heading down my driveway to I didn't quite know where. I got on I-35 near Walburg, Texas and joining the stream of humanity heading north, hiding there in my helmet, I flew along the macadam of the interstate highway as fast as I thought I could get away with. As it turns out this is the same path I took in June. I had a notion, more or less, that I would ride till four in the afternoon.

It is 515 miles to Wichita, Kansas. The cities rose up out of the plains and swallowed me up and spit me out the other side. Waco, Fort Worth, Denton, Norman, Oklahoma City, Edmund, and finally, at four P.M., Wichita, Kansas loomed on the horizon. It was hot and sunny all day. I was glad to be at a stopping place.

I stayed in the Scotchman Inn on Kellogg Avenue just west of downtown. While checking in I asked the clerk where I could find a tavern nearby and after I unpacked the bike and showered and changed into street clothes I headed out. West avenue was just over the river only a mile or so back towards town from my Inn. It was real cluttered with suburban blight but I found Yvie's bar and grill. There were two Harley's sitting by the front door and several cars. I backed my beemer in next to the Harleys. Some guy went in ahead of me carrying a fancy cue stick case. I went in and took a seat at the bar. There were several pool tables. Two middle aged ladies were standing at the bar. They ordered some beers and went to play pool at the nearest table. I sat down at the bar and when the bartender asked me what I wanted I ordered Dewars and soda. On my left were two empty stools. On my right a guy was drinking beer. I didn't talk to him and thought about moving over one seat to put some space between us as I intuited he didn't really want me there.

I sipped my scotch and minded my own business and watched the other happenings in the bar. The barkeep was a woman in her thirtys maybe and she was real busy. I don't think they had anyone else helping except in the kitchen so she not only served drinks but also waited tables, serving food and drink. The place wasn't full but I don't think there were any tables completely empty either. She was busy. I just nursed my drink, bided my time, ignored the guy to my right as much as possible. He was trying clumsily to chat up the bartender and she was friendly in a businesslike fashion. So, nothing really happened. I had a drink and it slaked my thirst and cut through all the dirt and grime in my mouth, in my mind, accumulated riding the trail from near Austin, Texas to Wichita, Kansas. When my glass was empty the girl presented herself in front of me and asked if I wanted another. I looked at her, locked eyes with her, put a friendly look on my face, waited to the count of four, and said I would be leaving. She said, "OK, then that will be five dollars." Looking into her face still I said, as I reached for my wallet,, "what is your name?" "Angie," she said. Handing her a ten dollar bill and a one I said, "Give me back a five, keep the dollar for a tip." She went to the cash drawer and fished a five out and came back to me. I had meantime collected a book of matches with the name of the bar printed on the cover. "Angie,", I said, "sign your name on this for me." She smiled, and said, "Oh, you collect matchbooks?" "Well, no," I said. The guy on the right was intent on this exchange, I could tell, but he kept his distance. Looking at her signature, I said, "I might start a collection." She smiled as I put the five back in my wallet and got up from the bar stool. We exchanged pleasantries, "good bye, have a nice evening." As I turned to go I spke to the back of the guy's head sitting there on my right and said, "and you too, man." He still didn't acknowledge me and almost cringed, I thought, as I walked out the door. So, the first seed successfully planted.

I went back to the Scotchman and checked the bike over for tomorrow's run. My gear was in need of some reorganization because in my haste to get on the road I just stuffed things anywhere. After a bit of this I turned in and slept fitfully till about six thirty Wednesday morning. By seven thirty I was in the lobby where I grabbed some cream cheese and preserves to go with my bread for a snack on the road.

An elderly couple were having cereal. We exchanged greetings. I didn't sit down. Obama was on the TV. It was a news clip about the health care debate. I addressed the couple about the AARP and how they were for this but that a lot of our seniors were beginning finally to see that this would adversely affect their lives and were strongly coming out against it. I don't know how politically aware these folks were but they listened politely neither agreeing or no as I said my peice. That too was a seed planted.

It was a nice day, still cool, when I mounted up and headed out for Nebraska straight up I-35. But in a few hours it was in the mid 90s with a south west wind. The prairie rolled up under my spinning wheels and the vast regions of my mind likewise rolled up behind my rapidly advancing thoughts and feelings. Heart and soul, mind and body were one in purpose and intent. I only stopped for fuel and one rest area where I had a snack about mid day. I got to York, Nebraska, where Interstate 80 headed me due west across southern Nebraska. It was hot when I stopped there for fuel. I struck up a conversation with an attractive girl at the fuel island. She was headed for Chicago and had come from the direction in which I was going. I asked about road conditions and such just wanting to hear a human voice and especially hers. She was quite open and didn't object to this chance meeting. Finishing up our fueling we parted wishing one another safe trips.