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Traveling Will & Robin

Current travels: Three months in the wilderness of Siberia, Mongolia, and the South Pacific


Aug '10

Grumpy and the Lutherans

A Kansas vignette.

Brewster, KS, population 285, population density 1,131/sq mi. The sun hangs heavily in the late afternoon sky as I cross the railroad tracks I’ve been paralleling and pull into town. It’s not difficult to find the main street and on that, the tavern: Grumpy’s Bar. I enter, still breathing heavily and dripping with the day’s sweat, then order a burger and an ice-cold beer (Coors Lite or Bud Lite. $1.). Soon Grumpy himself (60-ish, friendly, middle-American paunch) exits the kitchen and sits at my table and asks about my biking. After the usual conversation — how crazy I am, that Grumpy could get to the end of the town and back on a bike — he asks where I sleep. I answer with my standard line, that I usually ask around to find a quiet spot that wouldn’t bother anyone, then ask whether he knows of any spot like that here in Brewster.

“Oh, you can just camp in the park,” he says, pointing down the street. Without prompting, he follows this with an immediate addendum. “You know, it might rain again tonight. If you want to avoid that, you could just sleep in the Lutheran Church. It’s right across from the park.” Before I can ask my question, he adds “Just roll your bike on in there. It should be unlocked.”

I know I’ve lived too long in a big city, where locking your bike up outside is an invitation to steal it, but this strikes me as very, very cute. I thank him and prepare for my ride. The park is behind the bar and the church is within spitting distance across the street. The entire building is, as promised, unlocked. I spend the rest of my evening airing out my damp clothes, bathing in the church bathroom sink, and, while perusing the library, learning all sorts of useful ways to prepare for the apocalypse.

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