"Walking down the hill into Saint Francis yesterday, I was surprised to see a golf course. After 100 miles of farmland, it was a big change and something more familiar. But my long downhill walk along the golf course ended with another surprise: my cart tires were in bad shape. I needed two tires and two tubes before I could go on. And of course it was Sunday and I had no idea where a store was or how to get there… I was feeling like it was a good time to panic.
"I called Greta and Jamie for some research help, and learned that there’s a Walmart near town, but it’s neither close nor on my route. So I got my disabled cart as far as the motel where I planned to spend the night and considered my options. I asked about spending two nights there, so I could make repairs and recover, but the motel was booked up because of a pipers event that had the whole place booked up—most of the town was booked up, I found out.
"I sat in the hot sun waiting for my room to be ready and considering my disabled cart. I couldn’t help thinking about the good people I’d met in Idalia; so far the people I’d met in this lovely little town were in a hurry to get about their business. But I couldn’t really blame them for that—I’m a stranger, walking across the country for a cause that’s hard to understand. My luck was about to change.
"Spencer House Bed and Breakfast was the last place I had to call. Sure, they were booked for two weeks too and didn’t have a room for me. But they also rented cars, and that was a way to get the parts I needed at a store 40 miles away. Kate listened to why I needed the car and then volunteered that her husband and co-proprietor Carl was currently near Walmart and headed there next--a quick call to him confirmed that he’d be happy to pick up the parts for me.
"Later that night I was taking in the view from the idyllic Spencer House porch with Carl and Kate, enjoying excellent conversation and a brighter outlook. I still didn’t know where I was spending the next night however, and there was no way the cart repairs would be done in time for me to move on to the next town. That’s when they said “If you need a place to stay tomorrow, call Vicki” and connected me with a woman who rents rooms in her beautiful home.
"So that’s where I am now: in Saint Francis, Kansas, renting a room from the gracious Vicki and repairing my cart in the shade of a big tree in her yard. The immediate crisis is over, and I’m thinking about what’s next. If I continue west on Route 36 all the way to Lebanon, Kansas, I’ll be standing in the geographic center of the United States. It seems like a fitting place to visit."
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"If your travels ever take you to Saint Francis, Kansas, stop by the Spencer House and say hello to Kate and Carl. Please tell them I said hello and thanks again for all their help."