Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Thunderstorms and Pig Pens

April 4th and the very first day for Mo in his role as pack horse, but he took to it very nonchalantly. 
 Quiet back roads through the Kansas countryside..
Via the local grapevine I found a most congenial place to stay in Denton with Nick and Annie Clugh (spelling?) and family on their smallholding filled with goats and horses.  Unfortunately senility was already kicking in and I left my tethering ropes in Troy.   Norman on the left chatting to Nick and Annie after he had very kindly driven over to restore them to their grateful owner....
I was somewhat surprised to see this amazing turkey in a glass case in the corner of the room.......
....but it turned out that Nick is a talented taxidermist.
 Covered another fifteen miles or so the next day April 5th to conquer Everest, in this case quite an easy feat as it is a small Kansas settlement without a mountain in sight.  It was not so easy to find somewhere to stop that night as there was no-one at home at any of the farms I called at - eventually I took a chance at an apparently deserted farm and tethered the horses on an area of rough grass behind the large barn.  There was also the usual water hydrant, and the thirsty horses were able to drink their fill from my folding Ortlieb buckets which are really proving their worth.
Just as well I found the barn, as thunder clouds soon moved in, and later that evening there was an impressive thunderstorm with high winds, torrential rain and a terrific lightning show on the horizon, but the horses and I were safe under cover.  I later discovered the farm owners were away in Florida, but hope they did not mind their uninvited guests!
Kansas is part of the infamous 'tornado alley' of the Midwest, having the highest number of tornadoes per square mile of any state in the USA as the Wicked Witch of the East discovered to her cost.  And according to Norman they can strike twice, as he told me of one unfortunate local farmer who regularly has his grain silo destroyed. Although the main tornado season is May to July, they can arrive earlier, and I regarded any storm clouds with suspicion.
I discovered the next day April 6th that I had been only a mile from the small settlement of Kennekuk. There was once a Pony Express station here, and a marker commemorates this fact, though the actual site is on private land ...
There is no trace of the original way station in Kennekuk or the way stations to either side, Lewis and Kickapoo, which have no markers.
Through a wonderful local contact Connie Werner I had arranged to stay in the fairground at nearby Horton, and Connie found me treating myself to a proper American breakfast at the Blue Ribbon Diner which overlooks the ground.
Connie also arranged for a local vet to inspect the horses for the veterinary certificate I needed to enter Nebraska and generously donated a bale of hay for them. And on top of this she kindly drove me into Hiawatha to buy a cheap flip-top cell phone as my iphone runs out of battery too quickly, and back to Denton as I had not only forgotten both tethering ropes yet again but also my Kindle.  The Werners make amazing old style horse drawn trail wagons, and among other things made the fabulous stage coach on show at the Pattee House museum. See Werner Wagon Works.
The horses had the run of one of the cattle buildings at the Horton fairground while I camped in the pig shed..
How I know I am in the Wild West - notice on a shop window....

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