Before heading to bed last night, I had a feeling that I was missing out on some socialization in the general campground area. I thought maybe people in Kansas weren’t that friendly or didn’t like the idea of socializing with strangers.
I woke up to gunfire at 5:30am this morning. At first, I hoped it was firecrackers, but I quickly remembered I was in Kansas, it was nearly sunrise, and the shots were too sharp to be anything but a small caliber weapon. After eight or so shots rang out, I heard teenage boys giggling from a field just through some trees and across the road from me. It took me a good hour before going back to sleep thanks to the unexpected startle.
After I got up and about, I learned that Kansas is just as friendly as I was hoping; last night was just a fluke. I met Doug just outside the RV lot’s office where I was charging my laptop and phone.
At a glance, Doug is a 60-something biker with a patched leather cut and everything (Mom & Anna: this is a perfect example of Anna’s facebook post about bikers). He had a white beard with red streaks in it and tattoos adorning his arms – the weathered kind of tattoos that had been there for at least a couple decades. Following a bit of chatting, Doug asked if I’d like a cup of coffee. Score, more free coffee! I could certainly get used to this. Within a few minutes, Doug and I were talking about local Kansas things, where travels have taken us, and he unexpectedly asked me if I’d been saved by asking Jesus Christ to be my Savior. “I have”, I told him, to which he was very pleased. We talked a bit on the subject; Doug nearly came to tears when he told me about how he was saved eight years ago. It was very touching. Doug excused himself, walked over to his 1998 Victory motorcycle (it looked a lot like an average Harley), and pulled out a small book and cloth. He handed them to me and said I could have them, or if I met someone that may need them more, I could pass them along. The book was a pocket Bible with the words “Hope for the Highway” written on the cover and the cloth was “a Gift from CMA.” The CMA is the Christian Motorcyclists Association, which Doug is a member of.
In the next hour, I learned much about Doug and his wife, Sue, whom I did not get the pleasure of meeting because she was at work. Doug had served in the Vietnam War in the Army and had a few tips for me as I prepare to enter the service. I will take those tips to heart, but I can’t tell you what they were, or I’d have to… you know.
Around 10am, Doug asked if I’d be interested in heading over to the local senior center in Ottawa, about ten miles back the way I came, because one of our RV park neighbors, Randy, was singing a bit of Evangelical gospel and some other country music. I said, “sure, why not?” It’s not like I was in a rush, and I would love the experience.
I packed up all my gear, and followed Doug to the little town, eventually finding our way to the senior center. About two dozen senior citizens gathered in the small hall awaiting Randy’s performance. We walked in and sat down next to Randy’s wife, Tanya and looked on. He sang a new version of Amazing Grace, then another gospel song I’ve never heard. It was interesting because I was expecting him to play an instrument or something, but he just turned on background music and sang with it. After he got into the country tunes, I got a little distracted.
At a nearby table, four of the audience members were playing an intense game of Dominoes, which I had recently learned how to play from my friend George. I approached them and asked if I could watch. The last round had just finished and two players remained to play: Lou, a lady in her 70s, I’d guess with a southern accent and another gentleman in his 80s, from whom I didn’t catch a name. The two pretty much forced me to play, but I had no objections. The version they were playing was much different from the version I had been taught to play, but I stuck with it as best I could. The gentleman rocked it and Lou wasn’t bad, either. It was a lot of fun watching how good they were at the game and heckling each other. After that round, we all called it quits.
Randy was nearly done singing and lunch would be served soon after.
Before food was served, the Senior Center staff thanked Randy and the volunteers, and moved to saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Wow, talk about throwback! I hadn’t said the Pledge since Middle School; I don’t remember ever saying it in High School, but apparently it still is a well-practiced thing around here. The Pledge was immediately followed by singing of “God Bless America,” which I didn’t really know the words to, so I pretended to mouth them, oops. After singing, a prayer was said. Then, unexpectedly, Doug made a statement to the whole room that I was touring the country on my motorcycle and was about to enter the service in a couple of months. I felt my cheeks turn hot, but was humbled by his gesture. As lunch was served, many of the attendees came up to me to shake my hand and thank me for my future service – it was pretty neat.
Doug, Randy, Tanya, and I later discussed the audible gunshots from this morning and determined that it must have been the kids on the neighboring property. The guy who owns the land is a retired police officer and was sure to have many firearms in his home. Oh well. In Kansas, at least that far from a big city, shooting guns is not thought of as a big deal.
Eventually I said my goodbyes and Doug walked me out, gave me his card with his information in case I ever need it. He told me to look up the CMA chapter for sport bikes called “The Fast Lane,” a name that made me giggle. I may do that, we’ll see. Maybe one day I can write home to my parents telling them I’ve joined a motorcycle gang… but don’t worry, it’s okay, they’re Christian!
I took a quick gas and food stop before leaving town – I hadn’t eaten lunch at the senior center because I felt it was rude since they hadn’t accounted for my presence before – and hit interstate 35 South, once again. Another 130 miles and one long toll road later, here I am in Wichita. I picked out a Starbucks to sit at and work on homework… so far, no success, but my blog is coming along nicely! You’re welcome 😉
Tonight, I hope to camp somewhere nearby, or I may just cruise on to Oklahoma. We’ll see what I can find through Google; I’ll be sure to leave updates on Facebook and Instagram.
Until next time,