The "Race Against Death Tour" stops for the night in Wynot, Nebraska........
When we pulled into the small town of Wynot, we saw a little town square, if it could be called such. It was basically a poor excuse for a park with a central restroom facility, a couple of weathered old picnic tables, and a swing set swaying gently in the breeze. Along the western side of the main street there were a row of low buildings that served as business fronts for the post office and two small bars, along with some other non-descript buildings.
We spied the park as a place to set up tents and hit the hay. Troy went in to ask to see if this was okay at the bar. We followed in behind, but we were redirected down the street to another place to get "official" blessing. On the way down, an old man hailed us, and began to get into a conversation with Troy, but he quickly passed him off to Ryan and I.
Well, this old man was either half crazy, drunk, or both. (I vote for both), and he proceeded to try to talk to us in half sentences, ravings, and unintelligible bursts of sound. Ryan about busted a gut several times, but managed to keep it together. I never really did get the gist of what the old fella was saying, but Ryan seemed to tap into some of his verbiage, as he would oft repeat snippets of it afterwards, much to Troy's and my delight.
This fellow helped us give rise to the concept of "V.I.P" that we instigated for folks of this sort the rest of the trip. Simply stated, it stood for "Village Idiot Person". We were to meet several more along the road.
Now that Troy had the "official" blessing, we could set up camp in the town square. We made quick work of our setting up, having had enough practice now to be really good at it. We discovered that the rest room had a central drain, so we took a big pot that Ryan had brought and used it to fill with water from the faucet and pour over our heads to take make shift showers.
After getting cleaned up, we hit the bar we had walked into earlier. Calling it a "bar" is a bit unfair, I guess. It was basically a restaurant with a bar in the corner. Anyway, they had a board above the back counter with the menu on it. They had about every fried concoction available and known to mankind. Fried cauliflower baskets, fried mushroom baskets, fried cheese curd baskets, you name it, they had it. And........we ordered it! We filled our round table with fried food baskets and looked at it all with wide eyes. We were amazed at the volume of food. But you know what? We ate every last morsel!
After retiring to our patch of grass, we took to a lone picnic table and faced the lowering sun that was lighting up the clouds on the western horizon. It looked like some thunderheads were coming our way. But now everything was peaceful and relaxing. Troy said he wanted to go into the bar to ask to use the phone to make a collect call to his wife. (Amazing that we used to do this!) He was gone long enough that Ryan and I made note of it, thinking, and hoping nothing was seriously wrong. When Troy came out, it was apparent that the news from home was not good.
Thoughts ran across my mind of what it could be, but it wasn't "close to home" bad news. We found out from Troy that his wife had told him the news that Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead had died. Troy, being a huge fan, was devastated by this. We all sat on that picnic table for several minutes in silence, staring as the sun went down in a red and orange haze.
After some conversation we finally hit the hay and settled in for the night. I could hear the distant thunder and the flashes of lightning grew closer. I lay unable to sleep as a storm rolled up on Wynot, Nebraska that night, wondering what the following days might bring.
Next week: A Ride In Jo's Big Truck