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Hot chocolate and ‘shelter belts’- comforts of the trail

As we were packing up to ride the long 20 miles to the next town where we had hosts lined up and expecting us, we got to meet the family who’s round pen we’d used while they were at the basketball game. John and Shelly were sweet, as were their girls. We really loved Shelly, who talked to us while we were packing up despite her shivering from the cold. Once again, we had the wishful thought of staying another night to hang out with them. After we got a move on, Shelly brought us hot chocolate- which we were VERY appreciative of. Since I was riding Tiska, I was able to drink most of it before she had a spaz fit and I had to drop the cup. She still cracks me up when I ride her. She is so random when she spazzes!

It was a frigid day with bitter wind chills. We were so glad for the goggles we had picked up- it really makes the wind more bearable by having zero skin showing. Though it was funny that the St. John jounalist who hooked us up last night got pictures of us- facemasks and all! We noticed as we rode that we are getting into trees in Kansas. The western part reminded us of Nevada- a tree was a landmark. Now we are seeing rows of them. The locals call them ‘Shelter Belts’. They were planted back in the Dust Bowl to try to break the wind and minimize the dust, not to mention help prevent it in the future. It’s amazing how much warmer it is behind one of those tree rows that block the bitter wind. We are utterly grateful for the work of those tree planters on these bitter cold and windy days. It kind of got to be a joke- “hang on- we’re about to run out of tree line!” Then the wind would hit us like a truck. We also rode through a few miles of mini hills. It was rolling and more interesting than flat, even if the hills were only 15 feet high! We also noticed that we are feeling more humidity in the air. We must be getting more east where humidity is a part of life year round. One of the Cross family gang showed up and surprised us with another cup of hot chocolate! What a blessing on a long cold day! And for the record, I think toe and hand warmers are the best invention since sliced bread!

We finally made it to Stafford.. in the dark… where are horses were put up at the local fairground. A local gal donated hay, then we were whisked off to the warmth of Carl and Jeanette’s home. Yup, that’s right- two Jeannette’s under one roof! I almost never meet another one, let alone stay in the same house as one! Only she spells her name wrong! :) He he! (Mine has two n’s, hers has one.) They had recently moved into their new home, had dedicated their spare room to anyone God sent their way, and we were the first ones to be blessed by their spare bed and hospitality. Jeanette was thrilled to have her guest room used for the first time.

During our conversation, a term was mentioned I haven’t heard in quite a few years… “Square with the world.” It seems to be a midwest custom to make sure all roads, including houses placed along those roads, are lined up exactly east-west and north-south. Placing a house crooked to those lines of the “world” is considered taboo and rebellious. You must keep things “square with the world”! But admittedly, Carl and Jeanette broke tradition and placed their house out of line… “Because we can see visitors pulling in the driveway better!” Tsk Tsk! It was a beautiful home though… and I’m pretty sure they didn’t upset the balance of life on Earth by breaking tradition! :)

There was a snow storm coming in so we couldn’t decide if we were going to make miles tomorrow or not. We decided we’d wait till morning to see what the weather was doing and decide then if we were riding or holing up for a couple days.



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