June 4, 2006
Big Kansas storm last night. After posting last night's blog, I went down for dinner in the Lakeview Hotel dining room, nestled in the heart of downtown Meade, Kansas. Heard the roar of 21 gunfighting reenactors as I cleared the second floor landing. Guys hooting and squealing like pigs (literally!). Got into the back dining room and there they were, lined up at a long table, rowdy Texas, Kansas and Arkansas roughnecks, ripping and snorting at everything that moved. Nancy, the poor, lone waitress, skittered from chair to chair trying to take drink orders as each belching, cowboy shot verbal ricochets at her feet, at the same time cooing sweet nothings, and flirting with her to beat the band.
As the first fistfull of beers came out of the kitchen a woman knocked loudly on the sidedoor, and as Randy opened it, we saw and heard the big storm roaring in overhead. "We got 50 mile an hour winds coming in!" the lone woman yelled, holding her parka. "All those with tents in the riverbottom need to get down there now!" Thankfully, I was staying in the hotel, but I expected all hands to get up and go save the camp site from imminent disaster. One guy, Randy Edens, the Kansas State gunfigher president, got up to do his duty. Gary Chafin, the Kansas State Safety Inspector (and all the others) stayed to drink beer and yell at Nancy. Randy's Killian Red came out of the kitchen and we set it at the end of the table as a tribute to someone who actually cares. We could hear the rain on the brick building and see the dark trees, out the lobby windows, bending in the 50-mph-winds. There was talk of a tornado, Kansas style death and destruction, but the party raged one, as we talked of a not-too-distant-day when all the world loves the Old West as much as we do.
Forty-five minutes later, Randy came in, wearing a cowboy slicker and his face wet with sweat and rain. With his scout style Van Dyke and wind-swept sombrero, he looked like a night-watch buckaroo right out of a Remington painting. "How bad is it?" one of the cow-boys asked, to be nice. "Hand me that Killian," Gary commanded and the party hit high gear with steaks all around. Fortunately, many of us were wearing hip boots as the BS got quite deep (deeper than any storm could produce). We toasted Nancy. We toasted each other and we toasted the West we love. I had a rib-eye and three Coronas (but not in that order). When the bill came Chuck Watts from Texas grabbed my ticket and wouldn't let me pay. I offered to fight him for it, but nobody heard me. I'm not sure why, but maybe, it was because I whispered it very softly.
I got to bed at eleven, but heard carousing cow-boys far into the night.
Got down to the breakfast call at eight this morning, but I was the only one there. Had the oatmeal and a glass of tomato juice. The day looked to be another good one, and I went back up to the honeymoon suite to get ready.
"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to report, abstains from a wordy report to that effect."
—Old Vaquero Saying
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