Amazing wind-assisted progress to Eads, 21 miles south, in less than an hour. At the gas station in this town people asked “Are you heading south?” With a knowing smile and “Kinda late in the year to be riding a bicycle ain't it?” I didn't fancy any of the lunch options from the chilled cabinet, so bought a pastry instead (not one of the iced cheese variety though). Drank coffee here too, and perusing a local magazine, came across an advert for a company who film funerals. The road continued past The Queen's State Wildlife Park and I wondered what queen and what wildlife were being referred to as I couldn't fathom any self-respecting royal personage or wild animal visiting this featureless plain. It was only lunchtime when I arrived at my intended destination of Lamar (on my original route) so decided to press on towards Kansas. First of all I lunched in Subway, where a poster read 'Come join our sandwich artistes', and checked emails at the Welcome Centre, staffed by sweet old do-gooders. One took me under her wing and asked me to put a pin in a map to show where I was from and again I put it in a different part of Scotland because Glasgow was already spoken for. I wondered whether other pin-pushers had stretched the truth further than I, or perhaps this small town really had been frequented by Mongolians and Kazakhs. Another map depicted all the US states in different colours. I hadn't looked at the whole country like this since leaving home and it suddenly dawned on me that tomorrow I would be halfway through my holiday and I was only two-fifths of the way across. Don't say I haven't accounted for a few hundred miles somewhere... My befriender said they were giving out T shirts to visitors and all I had to do was sign my name in a book. I chose a grey one with the slogan 'Dude where's my ranch?' It was quite fortuitous because I'd just run out of rags to clean my chain. No, I didn't use this gift, but a T shirt on its last arms. The old lady imparted all kinds of information, although the only thing I can remember is that she had eight children. Yes, another supersize family. Lamar is an unusual small town, in that there is a train station there, and one can travel all the way to Chicago and Los Angeles.
Heading east, the wind had switched to be behind me again, which was very decent of it. Next up roadworks for ten miles. Men stood at each end with stop/go signs and a vehicle bore the sign 'Pilot car. Follow me'. This section was a bit surreal, with long periods of silence during which my only fellow travellers were tumbleweeds. At one point a white stallion galloped alongside me, lit from behind, outlined in gold; although it's possible this was a dream. There followed a wind farm of epic proportions along a ridge and there were a few houses right on top of them. I'm sure Americans don't see wind turbines as an eyesore or selfishly consider the effect on their house prices. 28 miles out of Lamar it occurred to me that I hadn't noticed a couple of towns that I should have gone through and that there was no sign of Holly, tonight's destination. Then the penny dropped. The wind hadn't changed direction - and that would also explain why the sun hovered to my right. I had gone 28 miles south instead of east. You stupid, stupid idiot. Nothing else for it, but to carry on to the next town of Springfield. Every mile of the following 20 was a mile in the wrong direction, yet there was nothing else for it. It was cold and I had to find the nearest motel before the sun set and the temperature plummeted. The only prizes for my stupidity were a new PB distance & speed of 109 & 18.8 respectively. Another Polish couple at J's Motel, where the proprietor was desperate to get rid of me so he could continue with his online chess game. You could have 'Pie alamode' at the Longhorn Steakhouse, but I of course had my usual boeuf au pain.
I thought I'd imagined the Longhorn diners eying me suspiciously last night, but again this morning? It felt like I was in Texas what with the country & western tunes and the drawly accents. “Guy, you need a little more splash?” asked the bouffant blonde, perma-tanned waitress.