Oh the joy of a day off. However with nowhere to cycle today I was at a bit of a loss first thing of what to do. Deirdre was up early for a call to the UK followed by doing my washing so I wandered around aimlessly with my routine broken for a day. Finally we got it together and drove 30 miles to the nearby town of Salina where there was a bike shop selling the all elusive Butt Butter which I was now out of. While in town we found a great diner which was a real throwback. It felt like everyone knew everyone else here and reminded me of listening to NPR’s ‘Prairie Home Companion” and the Chatterbox cafe in Lake Wobegon. It was great to have a slow relaxed breakfast made with real eggs and biscuits. Corn beef hash and two eggs never tasted so good and with an endless supply of coffee life was good in small town Kansas. As we left we started to chat with the owner who thanked us a number of times for calling in and wished me well on my long journey east.
After our stop at the bike shop it was back to Abilene to be a tourist for the day. First stop the Eisenhower house, museum and library. I am sure I need to read his whole history in the future as all I knew about Ike before today is that he played golf at Augusta National and had a really famous tree on number 17 named after him. Unfortunately Ike’s tree was damaged a couple of years ago and had to be taken down but I am sure the good folks of Augusta will not let Ike’s memory disappear with the falling of a tree. The museum unfortunately was closed and we had not booked a tour of the house so it might have to wait until I pass here again.
Next we called into a small museum which had a very old carousel dating back to 1904, and restored farm buildings. The lady at the door looked as though she had been there as long as the exhibits but was very nice and welcomed us warmly. We gave her $7 each to tour the museum and ride the historic carousel. On our way back to the hotel we saw a very large cowboy spur outside a store which obviously made us want to go and check it out. Inside we found a large stock of cowboy boots, clothing, saddles and everything else for the rancher and rodeo expert in Kansas. I had to try on a Stetson hat but knew I couldn’t wear it on my bike or the golf course when I get home so I left it in the shop for someone else to take home another day.
Finally we joined the others and went for dinner at the Brookville Hotel which is famous for its chicken dinner. In fact the chicken dinner is all you can get at the Brookville Hotel. It is a very simple format – you enter and are seated by a waitress in a pinafore dress at one of the dining tables. Out comes home made biscuits, coleslaw (made with whipping cream), peaches, bread and butter pickles and cottage cheese. It might sound strange but if you put a spoonful of each on your plate and then dig in it is a really nice refreshing start to the meal. Next comes a mound of freshly fried chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet creamed corn, biscuits and gravy. Simple but oh so good. We were full and content from this simple home style feast washed down with homemade lemonade and the finishing touch of a small scoop of home made vanilla ice cream. A simple meal served to everyone who visits the Brookville and I am sure almost all who visit would return again for more if they could.
Tomorrow Deirdre is off and I will saddle up on Irma and head off on another century ride to Topeka, Kansas which is 106 miles to our east. The next seven day stretch to the 4th rest will take us to the other side of Kansas, into Missouri and finally to Illinois. It was nice to have a relaxing day to rest up and recharge. We head off tomorrow on the second half of our adventure towards Boston.