Lamar, CO (8:30 AM Mountain) to Roeland Park (Kansas City), KS (6:30 PM Central). 474 miles.
Notables: Jim Butcher’s audiobook Small Favor (laugh-out-loud supernatural fun).
Eastern Colorado got hot yesterday; upper 80s and dry as shed rattlesnake skin. So, it was pure d-lite to open the windows of my shabby-chic turret room and sleep with the night air washing everything cool and clean. Mourning doves woke me this morning; a sound I grew up on and always says home to me. I’m close now.
Jane, my host, made a real breakfast for me and the family staying downstairs; a wedge of watermelon with blackberries and strawberries sprinkled on top, French toast with a warm orange/lemon sauce; bacon; and really good coffee.
Jane started B&B-ing twelve years ago, and like the other pro-hosts I’ve met on this journey, her hospitality far exceeds expectations. She carried my heavy bag upstairs for me, even though I tried to stop her. She came back in a few minutes with a cut-crystal glass of ice water when she saw my little fridge was out of bottled water. A slice of her chocolate bread waited for me on an antique breakfast-in-bed tray.
Like Doris in Roseburg, Oregon, Jane did all these wonderful extras matter-of-factly. Just part of the job. But their businesslike demeanors cover fonts of generosity and genuine kindness. These are the kind of ladies you want for neighbors, who show up when disaster strikes and get to work doing what needs to be done.
I met the family staying in the downstairs room briefly when I arrived; a dad with a tween daughter and younger son. Breakfast was pleasant with kids who weren’t too shy or too bored to talk. And the dad had lovely manners (Jane and I were both “ma’am”).
He mentioned in passing that he wrote crime novels. My ears perked up, but I didn’t pry; he didn’t seem inclined to talk about it. I looked him up, though. The blurb for his latest novel, Cry Father, claims:
In the tradition of Cormac McCarthy and Larry Brown comes a haunting story about men, their fathers, their sons, and the legacy of violence.
Cool! I’m downloading that book tonight!
(He looks like a total bad-ass in that PR photo, but he was quite shy with a nervous giggle).
That was the fun part of the day. The rest was… Kansas. Like Iowa, there’s not much to see; a few cattle grazing, lots of wide spots on the highway that have names, gas stations and rest stops. But my audiobook and the pull of home made me cheerful. And a new witticism from my Navigator.
A stretch of I70 is a tollway. John announced, “Congested traffic ahead. Cough it up. That’s medical humour.” And he gave a very Cleesian snort of disgust. Just when I thought I’d heard all his funnies.
Tonight I occupy the basement of a young, professional bachelor. He’s out to dinner at the moment, so I’ve let myself in (per his kind instructions) and set up shop. Soon, my Ramen noodles will be burbling, and I’ll see about finding Ben’s book.
A good day.