Well, the sun comes up awful early over here in the central time zone, and with it, the birds. So, I was up at the ass-crack of dawn packing up. Which was fine because I wanted to get to the zoo early. It opened at 8am and I was paying for that $15 parking spot by 8:20.
Anyway, the zoo was great. Totally worth making the effort and getting up early for. It was huge and full of animals (that were actually outside) and I almost didn’t mind all the children everywhere. I actually got to see a polar bear up close and personal, which I’ve never seen before. Those things are enormous and graceful and if I wasn’t so enthralled by zoos I’d feel sorry for it being cooped up in captivity.
I got through the zoo in about two hours and was back on the road to Salina, KS by 11am. I was hoping to eat lunch at a cool spot in St. Louis but wasn’t hungry yet, so I skipped it. When I finally did get hungry, I was close to Topeka, so I decided to eat there.
I looked up places on TripAdvisor and settled on a place called The Brick in downtown that seemed to have decent reviews and was on my way. Seemed legit. Until I got there. The windows were dark and I didn’t immediately see a door but there was an ‘Open’ sign in one of the dark windows, so I kept looking until I found a door. Just a plain wooden door with no window in it and peeling paint. It actually looked like the back door, but there were no trash cans indicating I was at the back door. And it was in the middle of a city block, so I couldn’t imagine that it actually was the back door. I guessed it was the entrance, took a chance and walked in the door, which took me into a tiny room with another door in front of me and a curtain to the right. I took another chance and went through the second door instead of the curtain. Turned out to be the correct door, and finally I was inside.
The girl who greeted me told me to sit anywhere, so I did. I didn’t have long to check the menu since the server was on top of me the second I sat down, and since I immediately wanted to leave but thought it would be rude, I ordered the tater tots appetizer. I glanced at the description and saw that it was topped with cheese and just went with it. When it came, I was disappointed. It was basically nachos toppings with tots underneath. Black beans, sour cream, tomatoes, etc. doesn’t sound terrible but it tastes how it looked. And it looked bad. I was in and out of that place in 15 minutes.
The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful minus the toll road in BFKansas and the 75mph speed limits (yes, please!). Oh. And the wind. My lord, the wind was constant and made even my little car difficult to keep on the road. I couldn’t even ride with my windows down because the beating of the wind against my head actually gave me a headache.
When I finally got to the KOA campground in Salina, I was more than ready to sit down and relax. I was hoping for some shade and trees close enough to hang my hammock and just have some peace and quiet and not have to think about anything for a while.
When I got out of the car, the heat and the wind hit me like a slap in the face. 92° and serious wind. Damnit. But no humidity! I can feel my skin drying out as I type.
Once again the sites are on top of each other and my neighbor is an RVer. An older couple who immediately came out to help me set up since the wind was so bad. I’m so grateful for them because it would’ve taken me forever to do it by myself. They were very quiet despite my efforts to small talk them during setup. But what I was able to get out of them is that they were on their way to Vegas. Been here since yesterday and headed out tomorrow. When I got the stakes in the ground, I thanked them profusely and they went back to their RV.
As I was blowing up my air mattress, the couple on the other side of me came barreling in like a herd of buffalo. They have not one, not two, but THREE children in tow. All boys and one with a cast on his arm (an American flag which makes me a little jealous because they certainly never gave me that option either time I broke my arm when I was a kid). I think, “There is no way these people are tent camping with all those kids,” and go about my merry way airing up my mattress and assuming they aren’t the ones in the site next to me. These people then proceeded to roll out their enormous tent right next to mine, and I almost regretted coming here completely. Especially since I’d already staked my tent into the ground to keep it from literally blowing away and the entrance was, of course, facing directly into their side.
Irritated, I finished blowing up my mattress and went outside and pulled every single stake out of the ground and turned my tent to face another direction. I also pulled it a little farther away from their tent in the process. They were seriously right on top of me.
When I finally got all my stuff set up, I decided to get some more ice for my cooler from the registration building and pour myself a glass of wine. I did offer my leftover ice to my neighbors in an attempt to open communication with them though, which opened the door for a little conversation. If you can’t beat em, join em, right?!
The woman was very nice and said they did need the extra nice and offered to help me with whatever I need. My mind immediately went to the still unopened Aquafina bottle sitting on the picnic table. I look at it and, for a split second consider asking them right then and there to give it a try, but I interrupted their setting up, and wanted to let them get back to it and made a note to ask them later.
Well, it’s later and I still have an unopened bottle of water because I just don’t have the mental capacity to go over there and ask them (driving all day takes a lot out of me). That would require more small talk that I just don’t have the energy for. But the blisters developing on my right hand from trying to open it are starting to concern me. I’ll just get my parents to do it tomorrow.
Anyway, I finally got everything set up, got a shower, put on clean clothes and poured myself a glass of wine. Went to sit on my air mattress and noticed it didn’t seem as firm as I prefer it to be, so I put some more air in it and sat down again. As I caught up on text messages to those who were curious to hear how the trip is going so far, I noticed that I was sinking. Eventually my butt ended up on the ground and, once again, I found myself irritated. The mattress had somehow, between St. Louis, MO and Salina, KS — a 6 hour drive, gotten a hole in it! You have GOT to be kidding!
So, I got up, got back in the car and went to Dick’s. Thank goodness I figured this out before they closed. I was able to replace my mattress with the same one I had before. It was on sale. Can’t imagine why!
I am now back in my tent, safe and sound, lying on the new mattress. It seems that I am back in business and don’t have to sleep on the ground tonight. Now, if the weather could cool off a little bit, the wind would die down and those trees could scooch a little closer to each other so my hammock would fit between them, this night would be perfect.
Oh well, I’ll just watch one of the movies I saved on my iPad instead. Because I still like my city comforts despite sleeping in a tent.