Day 41: Hometown Visit
For the past three days, the Adventure has been more adventuresome for me than for Mark, I’m afraid. Two days ago I visited our friend Linda in Laramie. Yesterday I visited my brother and nephew in Lincoln. And today, I visited my hometown of Topeka and a friend I’ve known since we were in the third grade together 60 years ago and struggled (well I struggled, anyway) our way through the educational and social pitfalls of high school. Of all the people I knew in my hometown growing up, Jaylene is the only one I’m in touch with, and that only rarely. Last year when Marilyn and I made our Miata trip to California and back, we stopped in Topeka to look around and have lunch with Jaylene. Today we had another chance to reminisce about the “old days.”
But first Mark and I had to get to Topeka from Lincoln. Yesterday we arrived in Lincoln after riding in the rain for an hour. Today as we left the Nebraska capital rain was falling again and fell for two hours until after we crossed the border into Kansas. Our decision in Alaska to add additional rain jackets to our riding apparel was a good one, and the double layers kept us dry. Above the belt. Below the belt continues to be a different story. My Gorilla Tape addenda have held up pretty well, but after two hours of riding in a steady rain, the seat of my jeans was still a little damp. For Mark, apparently, “damp” would be a gross understatement, despite the application of a half roll of the black, sticky tape to the seams of his rain pants. We’ve concluded that Harley-Davidson logo rain gear is only meant to be effective for about 15 minutes until you can pull over and get under cover. Maybe $500 Gor-Tex pants will keep you completely dry while you continue riding, but not Harley gear.
Still, being the hard-core riders we are, we pressed on to arrive on time for our 11 a.m.lunch engagement with Jaylene at her favorite restaurant, Paisanos. This is the same restaurant Marilyn and I enjoyed with her last year. And once again, the food was very good, especially the Chocolate Mousse Torte all three of us shared. But the service was almost comical. Our waiter, who shall remain nameless, worked hard (you could tell by the sweat beading up and dripping off his forehead) but he should probably find a more suitable line of employment. He tried hard and was pleasant, but he forgot items, he was slow to bring refills, he couldn’t remember what we ordered, he assumed Mark wanted one soup when Mark actually wanted the other, he tried to correct Jaylene on what deserts they had when he was wrong and she was right. At least he didn’t spill anything on us. (He spilled a lemonade on Jaylene the last time she was there with her grandkids.) I didn’t even take a chance he would realize we needed clean forks for the shared dessert and reminded him to bring new ones, spoiling the possibility of a table bet on whether he would bring clean forks or not. I tipped him , but only because I figured he would need the cash until his meagre unemployment checks start to arrive. Hey, at least Jaylene got to share in part of Mark’s and my adventure.
After lunch, Jaylene wanted to see the bikes that have carried us more than 10,000 miles so far on this adventure. I apologized for their filthy condition and pointed out that a significant part of Canada and Alaska and numerous of their flying creatures were attached to our chassis and tin. She was impressed with our ability (she didn’t say “at your age” but I’m sure she was thinking it) to ride 8-10 hours a day through the very conditions that had so badly besmirched our once-clean scoots. We said our goodbyes and Mark and I mounted up for the remaining three-hour, rain-free ride to Booneville, Missouri.
Tomorrow, no great adventures are expected as we continue to reduce the dwindling miles that lie between us and home. But you never know.