Hill City Kansas Part Two July 2018
Many people have asked me whether my brother and I finished the bicycle trip to California. While we were at the farmhouse in Hill City something was happening in Colorado.
In June of 1965 the great flood of the Platte River was doing it’s horrible work. The destruction, loss of property, and loss of life were substantial. My brother and I were unknowingly peddling into this mess.
As we moved westward one funny thing happened. As I mentioned in the previous article our attire was profoundly different from boys our age in Kansas at that time. As we walked down the main street of a small town, a girl came out of the local soda fountain and exclaimed, “What are you boys?“ She then leaned back into the soda fountain and cried out to her girlfriends, “Come look at these boys!”
My brother and I panicked and within minutes this girls’ softball team was chasing us down the street. We couldn’t get away fast enough. During that same afternoon a storm similar to what was going on near the Platte River blew in. I think it was what they called a “blue norther.” A giant black cloud filled with dust was picking up, then there were huge winds, followed by rain. We took cover at one point under a ditch beneath our tarpaulin until it blew by.
The next day we found a very unusual town, a small one. The entire village was populated by black people of every age. My curiosity was aroused and I asked an elderly gentleman the history of this berg. He explained that after the Civil War, though they were free, they knew there would not be much opportunity for them in the South. They came to Kansas to start a new life and became farmers. A hundred years later they were still there.
On day nine of our trip we cruised into the worst of the of the Platte River flood damage. There were railway tanker cars wrapped around bridge abutments. A one-foot deep layer of mud covered almost every visible surface. All the local people were in shock and there was complete disruption of all services. This was emotionally and physically challenging to the two of us as 14 and 17-year-old boys.
Our parents had passed beyond us unseen and we’re settled in their camping spot with the travel trailer in El Dorado Springs near Boulder, Colorado. We had been on the road for 10 days and covered 680 miles. That was enough. We decided to continue to California with our parents and the great adventure would become a very fond memories over the years ahead of us.
When you set out to do something it is a good idea to finish. However, when Acts of God spring up in front of you, sometimes it is better to pause and reflect. Jesus said, “Count the cost.” Even He knew that an effort to achieve a goal must be worth the expenditure of time and resources. In Eldorado Springs, Chris and I were pretty impressed staring straight up the face of the Rocky Mountains. Our little legs must have been a tad overwhelmed, too.