Short day, but not easy: El Dorado, KS

Friday June 19, 2009, 34 miles (55 km) – Total so far: 1,832 miles (2,948 km)

Another early start, as the motel we were staying at didn’t have a continental breakfast, we went a block down the street to a gas station with breakfast biscuits.  There was a surprising number of men grabbing a bite before heading to work, and the cashier wasn’t the speediest, but everybody was patient and polite.

The wind hadn’t died down overnight.  It started out at about 15 mph crosswind, out of the south.  The prediction was for gusts to 23 mph, although with the traffic on U.S. 54, it was hard to tell.  We had a slight downhill for a couple miles, and then gradually climbed for the next 20 miles or so.  Nothing serious, except when you couple it with the wind.  The wind just drags on you, making what should be a lovely short drop into a chore pedaling downhill.

The plan to recover overnight didn’t work out too well.  I drank my way through both water bottles before we got to Rosalia, to find the gas, grocery, diner, and post office was a diner closed for another two hours and the post office.  The lovely lady at the post office saved my day by refilling my bottles, and gave me a Starburst to suck on to boot!

We left the route to come straight into El Dorado.  We’d been on this road for 38 miles, so we figured we could handle another 12 miles.  No problems with the road, but the wind was another story.  It had shifted to coming out of the southwest, meaning it was a headwind, and as Virginia noted, those gusts of 23 mph felt like they were coming all the time.

The countryside was beautiful all the way.  The hills mean you can’t see forever, but you can usually see for 5-10 miles in any direction.  It looked like all it needed was some cowboys and Indians to start making a Western.

Great set for a Western, just add actors

Four hours later, we made it into El Dorado.  Just north of here is where drillers struck oil in 1915, starting an oil boom that grew into the largest company town in the country within a few years.  Our pot of gold is a motel room; a haven from the heat and the wind.

Pulling into town, we passed an interesting conjunction.  On one side of the drive was a sign, “El Dorado Correctional Facility.”  On the other side of the drive it said, “Career Opportunities Available,” and listed a phone number.  I’m not sure what those career opportunities were…

In retrospect, I wish we had stopped to look at some of the museums and exhibits downtown. El Dorado was the site of the original wildcatter oil boom, and there’s still some oil infrastructure left, although most of the wells are pretty well tapped out. But the motels were 3-4 miles out of town, and I just wanted to crawl into a refrigerator and take a long, cold nap. Did laundry, ate, and hid in the motel’s AC this afternoon.

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