When I woke up yesterday, I was still very sleepy. It didn’t take much to rationalize staying in Alma for another day. I am beginning to wonder if I have some sort of mental block. I know that in a little over a week, I will be climbing into the Rockies. They have been looming over me for a while, at least since I crossed the Mississippi. I could have dealt better with the heat and flats over the past few days and made better progress.
About 5 miles south of Alma, I came across another rider. I haven’t seen anyone other tourist since I left the GAP. Roger is riding from Denver to Omaha. We stopped and chatted for a bit and exchanged information about each others upcoming routes. When he was younger, he rode from the west coast to Bolder, CO, and wanted to go on to Omaha then. Things got in the way, like school and family, and he never finished the ride. This is his summer to finally finish.
I finally made it out of Nebraska, heading in a direction toward the town where I went to high school. The names of the towns are becoming familiar. Except Long Island, KS. I didn’t know there was a Long Island in Kansas, or, if I did know, I forgot. My goal today was Norton, KS. Norton, as a county seat, was one of the larger towns we would go to for shopping, movies, etc. I haven’t been in this area since 1995. I was surprised by how much Norton had changed. It looked like it had experienced a boom in the past ten years and there was a lot of new construction along Highway 36.
With the help of favorable winds, I got to Norton earlier than I thought and felt pretty good. I decided to push on and see if I could make it to Jennings, where I went to high school. It would be about another 25 miles.
The winds continued in my favor, and I made it to Jennings shortly before sunset. Coming around a corner a couple of miles outside of town, I saw the grain elevator and knew I was there. It wasn’t just because Jennings was the next town along the highway, but there was something about the way the grain elevator suddenly comes into view from behind a hill that was very familiar, even after all this time. I made dinner in a roadside park. By the time I finished dinner, it was dark, so I pitched my tent behind a tree in the roadside park. There is a lot more truck traffic along that highway at night than I remember, which may make for a noisy night.