Tornadoes, Hitchhikers and Tents in Kansas – Part 2

This man stood at around 6' 9” and weighed in at probably about 380lbs., give or take a few dozen. It was his presence, that was most intimidating as he hunched over the bar gripping the beer glass with his thick hands. His stance seemed to say 'stay away', so we did and made our way over the the pool tables across the room.



If you can imagine a place this ole-timey...this was it.  Photo courtesty of


For a bar/pool hall/bowling alley they had what seemed to be more pool tables than the entire population of the town would ever need. Maybe they held the regionals here.


Already into a few games of pool and several pints, some of the locals who had been looking on from the bar came over to inquire about joining in with us. We acquiesced and let them join in the rotation. As is so often the case when a new comer walks into a bar to shoot some pool, the topic of betting on a few games came up.


I don't like betting, seems like a waste of money, plus I'm not really so good to put a stake on it. After politely refusing a few wagered games, they began to ask our reason for being in town. It came as a surprise to them that we were just passing through, sheltering from the storm, on our way back east with no such logical explanation for our travels.


For me it was the road back east to New York to settle home after several months touring across the country. For my passengers, who had only themselves met on Craigslist a day or so before I picked them up, it was a dash for NYC. There they would split ways, or not – I never did learn, onto bigger and bolder adventures.



Strong yet gentle with a little hint of crazy thrown in.  Photo courtesy of


Maybe it was that the welcoming party had cleared us as non-threatening, I am very much non-threatening, but the intimidating large man came over to talk with us. His domineering presence aside, he was a very welcoming and jovial fellow, even offering to buy us a round of shots. From what I could make of him, he was native American, inducing my mind with images of the large fellow from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. You know the one who Jack Nicholson gets to throw the water fountain through the window so he can escape, that guy.


It was somewhere around this time that the night gets a little blurry. Although I do remember parting ways with our new Kansas friends after a few more games of pool and rounds of beer.


The establishment was closing and we could hardly expect them to keep their doors open all night, or at least till the storms passed, just for us. We found ourselves wandering around with my tent, already storm tested, looking for a shelter of some sorts. Stumbling upon a nearby park, or so it seemed at the time, we began the arduous process of pitching the tent in the dark, rain and wind under an enormous pine tree.



It felt kind like this.  Without the desert of course!  Photo courtesty of Flickr


This process proved too difficult after nearly 30 minutes of struggle. Already soaked from the rain, yet with the storm having seemingly passed we decided to take refuge on the dry ground under the canopy of the pine tree. The combination of sleeping bag and cover proved useful in keeping us dry, save the moisture and dampness that crept in because of the humidity.


Why this did not seem like the best solution at first I will never know. For future reference, should you ever find yourself in this situation, thick, tall pine trees that have a wide canopy are a great place for guerilla camping. This is if you are willing to play the odds that the tree won't be struck by lightening, which is statistically more likely than camping out in a field.


What we did end up finding out early and I mean early the next morning is that we had stumbled across not a park, but some kind of public works facility, which just happened to look like a park. Although our presence did not seem to bother the maintenance workers who were coming into work early that morning, milling about and paying us no mind at all.

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Post by Kurt Trumble
The Low Down:

Kurt grew up on Long Island in New York. He spends his time learning emerging open source technologies and social media. He runs Travel With Drupal, focused on Drupal webdesign and blogging. ( Beatnik literature and The Beatles top his list of interests when not backpacking around.