Day 32: The Flamingo in Garden City

by James

We woke up in puddles. June 17th, day 32, Dodge City park.

I lifted my head from the damp sleeping bag and prepared to take stock of the damage. Mike was just stirring, so we sat up in tandem and moved our dripping sleepware off of the concrete.

Last night, in the thick of the sprinkler attack, I hadn’t considered that wet sleeping bags can’t be rolled up and stored during a day of riding, under threat of mildew. I hadn’t considered that I’d find my bike clothes sitting in a pool on the concrete, heavy with water. I guess I hadn’t considered much.

We stood around a while, arms folded, trying to figure out what to do. The ride to Garden City, our stop for the night, wouldn’t be too bad. Maybe 60, 65 miles.

Finally, we decided to head to the McDonald’s in the center of town and dry our soaked gear off on their picket fence.

Drying out
Drying out

While we were laying our stuff out on the fence, a Mexican janitor named Miguel started to talking to me. He walked up and wished me a good morning, then patted me on the shoulder a few times. I think he sensed we were from out of town. As we later found out, Miguel himself was new to Dodge City. He’d only been in America for six months, but his wife and kids had been here eight years.

I didn’t ask him what caused this delay, but I told him I was glad he’d made it.

He had an honest face and he smiled a lot; clearly happy to be where he was, tending the front yard at McDonald’s. He told me with a laugh that “it’s all about the money.”

We hung out for a few hours, periodically checking and rotating our fenced gear for a uniform bath in the morning sun.

After the gear had dried and we’d eaten several meals’ worth of calories, we decided to start for Garden City.

The wind was agreeable, but large stretches of the road were poorly paved. Our bikes fared miles of rough pavement and at some point we passed a giant cluster of cows1 in an industrial-looking feed yard.

Cow city
Cow city
Outside of cow city
Watching the dust

We finally arrived in a quaint part of Dodge City, where we stopped in a bike shop. The shop was very clean. There were two female mechanics behind the counter. The kid who rang us up, the only other employee in the shop, was oddly nervous and his collar was fully buttoned. Maybe he was trying to impress the mechanic girls.

We split for a coffee shop and spent some time figuring out where we’d sleep. It was my birthday, so the de facto plan was to find a motel and buy some beer. We called around to a few motels, eventually deciding on The Flamingo Motel since, aside from the name, it offered the cheapest rate we could bargain for: $40.

We set off for what one reviewer called the “rough part of town,” which was dicier than downtown but about as rough as any part of Herndon and we found the Flamingo. I did a disappearing act while Mike got the room.

"Rough part of town"

After Mike passed out on the king-sized bed, Kerouac perched on his chest, I scoured for beer and came up with a six of Modelo. For the rest of the night, I sat on the bed, flipping between modern2 detective novels3 and sipping the light Mexican beer. Thunder outside rattled the motel windows. It was a fine birthday.

  1. probably worth a few million

  2. ’70s on out

  3. they all seem forced after Chandler

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