I am one of those who never knew their grandparents. Every once and a while, I meet people who I think, "You'd be wonderful grandparents, will you adopt me?" Meet Elaine and Dan.
Elaine runs a little bed and breakfast on Route 96 in tiny Bazine, Kansas called the Bicycle Oasis. They set it up about 8 years ago because so many cyclist passed by on the Transamerica looking weary and tired. Neither are cyclists, they are just lovers of people. For ten bucks, you can camp in their yard, fifteen lets you sleep on the screen porch and thirty gives you a bedroom. I camped outside but still got to use the kitchen, living room and bath. And Elaine will cook you breakfast in the morning.
The greatest thing about Elaine and Dan is that you are not just a customer. From the moment you are arrive, you feel like family. They have such a tender spirit and, remember, they welcome you into their home. When I was recommended the hostel, I was told that they were taken to Elaine's brother for dinner. When we were there, Dan invited us to a potluck and pool party at the home of one of their church members. So we went and had a nice dinner and met some great Kansans. Talked a long time to Terry, a farmer and former teacher who has the distinction of being the only teacher I know who used to commute to work by airplane. Also the only teacher I know who has an airplane parked in the backyard.
Dan cuts hay for a living. And he raises some cows. He showed us how his bale lifter worked and let me turn on his tractor (brand new-- $84,000, which is cheap compared to some). Dan also took me to "walk" his four hunting dogs. It involved a command that got all the dogs in the back of the pickup. Bear, the black lab, is too old to get up by himself, so Dan has to help him. But ask Dan about Bear and he gets really soft: "Best hunting dog ever. He's made some amazing retrieves." We drove about a mile down a dirt road, turned down another road and with another command the dogs jump out and run up the road. That's their exercise and they love it! We follow, turn the truck around, stop at the end and call the dogs back. And that's how the dogs are walked.
Elaine's Bicycle Oasis was supposed to be just a place to rest and shower. It ended up being one of the highlights of the entire trip thanks to Elaine and Dan and their love and generosity. I also enjoyed my traveling companions: Clyde, Joelle and Ken. We had seen each other off and on for the last two days and ended up at Elaine and Dan's together.