Friday, 18 June 2010

Eureka – My Parasite Pet & The Vietnam Vet

Cyril the Tick!
We left the Safari Inn Motel, Keith got a head start as usual and rode ahead, the weather was great, cool no rain a few hills but mostly flat.

After an hour or so we arrived at Lenny’s Gas Station, he has run it for 45 years and has seen all the cyclists go by since 1976 when the Trans Am started. We grabbed a coffee and chatted with him for a while; it amazed me that this guy had run his grubby little gas station for 45 years on a cross roads miles from anywhere, but being his own boss he seemed more than happy with his lot.

As we left Lenny’s two Brits heading east on the Trans Am\ Western Express came along. They were the first Brits I had met on the whole journey, it was good to have a chat in the Queens English! As usual we swapped tips on the route we had travelled and what were the best places to stay \ eat. The older of the two guys father lived in Budleigh Salterton, a town near me and we chatted in the heat dreaming about ice cream from the Creamery, a great ice cream shop.

There were only a few options for rest stops today so we carried plenty of water. Arriving in Toronto KS we stopped at the Market Deli, as we saw two bikes outside. They belonged to Carol and David, a fit older American couple doing the trans am and staying in hotels on route, luxury, I’m not jealous! We stopped and had lunch and chatted with them, Keith had left 5 minutes before.

Don, who owns the Market Deli in Toronto KS and is the spitting image of Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now, had the usual Stu marketing advice spiel. His location half way along a 60 mile stretch with no other services, makes his recently purchased business a great Trans Am stop in both directions. I recommended a Trans Am cyclists welcome sign, free popsicles and water bottle fill ups, his sandwiches were great, he could be on to a winner and seemed really grateful for the info.

We met Carol and David again resting on the long Highway 54 to Eureka, her strange handlebar set up was she ensured us very comfortable but made her look like Mary Poppins.

All the way along Highway 54 we were passed by East bound RAAM (Race Across America) riders with their support buses and sag wagons, they waved to us and the crews yelled out and some shouted through their vehicle tannoys. They ride a different route to us and are the jet fighter equivalent to our heavy bombers!
Eventually we arrived at Eureka and joy of joys it was the first City Park with a swimming pool and to top that most of Kansas’s parks have pools and Trans Amers get to use them for free! Keith and I decided to take a dip after using the showers to wash that days cycling kit!

Whilst bobbing around in the pool a young girl started chatting to us, she was only around 12 but her life sounded hellish, with constant domestic violence she was having to spend most of her life living with her Aunty. As I turned to swim off she said there is something on your back, I asked Keith to look, his face said it all, there was something on my back that wasn’t nice! Keith said he thought it was a tick and it was the size of my little fingernail!

We got a nearby builder to look and he gave us a cigarette to try and burn it off, this didn’t work so I decided to go to the hospital as ticks can carry a host of nasty diseases.

I cycled up to the A&E department at Eureka hospital and was put in room with 71 year old vietnam \ korean war marine vet, who looked like a skinny alcoholic Grizzly Adams.  He started gobbing off to a young nurse, “I’m an American Marine, I need effing treating now”, she told him off, but he still carried on being abusive. I decided to have a word with him about his attitude, my accent spooked him a bit and he asked “Wherez ya from” in his slurred gruff Kansas accent. “England"… never been there, heard it’s a mighty fine place though!”

He then gave me a graphic insight into his infected catheter and how much his knob hurt! I asked him about Vietnam and Korea. “I don’t talk about nam, real bad shit out there” he replied.

I told him my late father was a Royal Marine Commando in Korea. He went very quiet and muttered “Those Royal Marine Commandoes were crazy bastards” and shook his head. That line was enough to calm the drunken war veteran down and we ended up chatting and he was so full of respect, that I was the son of a Royal Marine Commando. He took my card and after the nurses had removed his catheter with, I guess, an extra hard tug, his helper appeared to drive him back home.

As he left the ward staggering from wall to wall he promised to email me loads of pornography, I said I would prefer a donation to ShelterBox!

Well I think the Doctor and nurses were impressed I had shut him up, he’s a regular trouble maker apparently.

My huge Tick was removed, the biggest the Doctor had seen, he reckoned it had been feeding on me for over a week. I’ve been prescribed antibiotics to deal with Lymes Disease and Rocky Mountain Fever. The nurse and doctor were great fun and really interested in the trip.

They presented me with my tick in a pot bathing in formaldehyde, he’s been christened Cyril and his finishing the Trans Am with me…..