Hays, Kansas. For the past week I have taken longish bike rides out into the country. Since there are no trails here one must either negotiate the stop-and-go city streets, risk life and limb on the highways, or strike off on the rural roads. No brainer.
The locals call 'em "gravel roads" but they are actually dirt roads, sandy and as hard as concrete in the summer sun. Unlike the back roads I grew up with, which were yellowish, these out here on the high and dry plains are chalkish. My bike tires quickly turn white after only a few yards.
On the southern heights above town, out by "Sentinel Hill" (soldiers stood watch here to warn the fort of Indian attacks), one can see for miles and miles in any direction. And with no trees or other obstructions, the sky is a beautiful open book. If a thunderstorm is brewing three counties west, you know it. Rain fifty miles south? Easy to see and up go the car windows. Cold front from the north? Plenty of lead time to chop more logs. I love it. Weather Channel? Ha! Don't need no fancy folks a thousand miles away in fancy clothes pointing at fancy radars and fancy Doppler's to tell me what's cookin' out here.
And something else: Nothing like a storm cell thirty miles wide and a towering thunderhead seven miles tall to make you feel small as an atom and put life into perspective. Vanity and large egos cannot survive the Big Sky. Maybe that is why I value the folks out here so much.
Future Car of the Day