I threw together a quick breakfast and packed up bright and early. Not nearly early enough to say 'good morning' to Royal or Jessie, who had hauled out by 5am. My trailer is riding a little lighter now. I ordered some 16x1.35 slick tires for it, which should help a bit, too. I'll be picking them up in Ordway, Colorado.
Getting out of Hutchinson wasn't as ugly as getting in. Before long I was surrounded by field and pasture again, with a few longhorn cattle. I ran across a couple heading east, but we didn't stop and talk. I rode past my first sunflower fields today, but the flowers where past season with brown, drooping heads. I'll just have to imagine them in bloom. It would have been nice to see the wheat fields, too, but they're long since harvested.
I took a rest along a long, peaceful stretch of road. As I sat in the grass and had a snack, I watched a vaguely bike-shaped object approach from afar. Eventually it resolved into a guy on a road bike pulling a heavily loaded bob trailer topped by a full sized guitar. Thus I met Alex; an awesome vagabond-esque cyclist heading to San Francisco. He's in a hurry to get back to the real world, and though he's no neon spandex cat, this guy likes to go far and fast. Tonight, though, we have the same destination.
Michelle and Ryan came up behind us soon, and we all managed to approximate our speeds to ride together in more or less of a pack for the next handful of miles. A sudden rain storm passed by, so quickly that the air barely had a chance to cool. The raindrops where hard and icy cold, but it made the plains even more beautiful when the rain passed and the water turned to steam in the hot sun.
Ryan grew up in Kansas City, and his family is scattered across Kansas. A relative of his, also named Ryan, offered to take the three(No wait, four... oh cool Jesse and Royal showed up! six!) of us in at Larned. We decided to go easy on the guy and ended up staying at the super nice town park, so he brought us dinner instead. Dinner was a delicious taco feast with copious fixings, rice, and plenty of snacks to take along with us.
Once the food was eaten, Ryan had gone home, and all the kids having a pool party nearby quieted down, Ryan(our Ryan, not the food dude. Did I mention he carries a small backpacker guitar? Cool people always have guitars, yanno.) and Alex got out their instruments and played. I'm so glad I ran into these people - traveling alone was good for contemplation, meditation, and writing long journal entries, but tonight was incredible just for the experience of spending time in the company of the many personality types who may find themselves sleeping in a park on a warm Kansas night.