August 24

I did 22 miles today and I’m about 7 miles east of Great Bend, Kansas. I am definitely in the oil country of Kansas. My tent is pitched at the edge of an oil field. The smell is pretty strong at times. I’m only 100 ft. from railroad tracks. I looked at the rails and they aren’t used real often but they do see action. When you’re close to the tracks, when the train does come through, it feels like it’s running right through my tent. When it gets late, I can’t be real picky about tent spots, I have to take what I can get. And anyway, I was in a room last night and will probably get a room in Great Bend tomorrow. It has to get a little uncomfortable sometimes or I can’t make y’all believe I’m roughing it.

The highlight of my day came about 4:30 when Manuel Ivan Tavarez pulled up in his beautiful customized Chrysler 300 and asked in pretty good English what I was doing. As I was talking, he would translate to his passenger, Baudilio Hernandez. After my story, Manuel said, “Wow, you need money muhn,” and handed me a twenty. Baudilio then handed me a ten. Manuel then said, “Muhn, you need a beer,” and handed me a cold Corona. They also insisted I take a sandwich they had left over from lunch. Manuel told me, “Muhn, we been high at work all day muhn. We get paid to get high.” He then explained to me that they were iron workers and they worked building oil refineries. He said they were currently building the coker unit for a new refinery and were working at 323 feet. He said his last job he was over 400 feet. After I took their pictures and they took several of me, they started taking pictures of each other strapped into my pulling harness with LOVE LIFE over their heads. They were laughing and just having a blast! Manuel explained to me that his job was very stressful and that he makes the best of his time off by having fun. Baudilio, standing next to me posing for one of Manuels pictures, said to me, “Love life… good… is muy Bueno! In my tent later, took a bite of the ham and cheese sandwich they gave me and my mouth caught fire! Geez, I opened it up and there was a whole layer of chopped jalapenos on it! Good thing I had at hand, a Mexican fire extinguisher, Corona! Yes, to LOVE LIFE is good my friends.