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Clouds, Fossils, Dogs, and Sliders

I woke up to cloudy skies; not just cloudy, but stormy, as in I could see lightning flashing in the distance.  After considering my options, I decided to brave the storm.  It was mostly north of me and the weather doesn’t tend to move south here.

Salina, KS was my destination today.  The same Salina as mentioned in “Me and Bobby McGee,” the song I would sing all day in my head.  I had been told to check out the original home of the slider; bonus that there were two breweries in town.

The riding was beautiful, full of fields and flowers.  All of it was blowing in the wind, including me.  It felt like I had either a head wind or cross wind the entire day.  As I was riding, I got passed by the most unusual trailer.  It was no more than six feet high with what looked like miniature horse stalls on either side.  As I continued down the road, I discovered this was a greyhound moving trailer.  Yes, the race dog.

Having never seen a dog race, but being a fan of horse racing, I was intrigued.  Turns out this part of Kansas (Abilene) is home to the National Greyhound Association, and there were at least two huge greyhound “farms.”  I use quotes because it weirds me out.  For whatever reason I can fathom a horse farm but not a greyhound farm.

I continued on until I heard a lot of loud barking; another greyhound farm.  As I approached I noticed a fire nearby.  It was burning a strong blue color, similar to when tires are burned (don’t ask, my experience stems from world travel).  Getting closer, there were dozens and dozens of long runs and pens.  And the dogs were going ape shit.  It was one of the weirder sites I’ve seen.  At least 50 dogs, running back in forth, jumping on their shelters, and barking like crazy.

After the greyhound experience, I came upon a road cut that had exposed lots of fossils.  I pulled over and let the nerdy kid in me come out.  I spent probably an half hour exploring and collecting; then I got rid of everything except for one piece. It is a cast of some prehistoric worm-like creatures tunnel.  I thought it was cool (plus it was small and light).

When I pulled into Salina, the first thing that struck me was the dead industrial grain towers.  They looked like a set for a bad zombie movie.  Fortunately, after crossing the train tracks, the rest of the town was quite nice and quaint.  I quickly found what I was looking for: the original slider.

The story I had been told was that the Cozy Inn originated the slider and, also, the idea of buying them by the sack.  One of the partners had gone on to create White Castle, while the other partner stayed in Salina.  There were some differences though. (Disclaimer: I hate White Castle, it disgusts me).  Whiteys have cheese on them; Cozies (my name not theirs) have mustard, ketchup and pickles.  No cheese, never.

I acquainted myself with the ordering process and proceeded to destroy six.  They were delicious, absolutely amazing.  The flavors were simple but mingled amazing, like the true American creation that they are.  I vowed to return before the day was out for more deliciousness.

Around the corner is Blue Skye Brewery, my next stop in Salina.  I had a flight of their beers, most of which were below great, but above shit.  The stout and the seasonal IPA stick out as their best beers.  The space was beautiful and no expense was spared to decorate and furnish the restaurant.  And the bartender was very easy on the eyes.  That never hurts.

Next to Big John’s Brewing.  I was fairly suspicious of this place before I entered.  The website was shit; it was in a strip mall.  I’d been wrong numerous times before but I still had my qualms.  When I arrived, I realized I was justified.  The place was huge and vacant; lots of mismatched chairs and tables.  And not in the cool, retro recycling way.

Another flight, another round of disappointment.  I quickly finished and headed to a nearby liquor store.  It was pleasantly surprising to find a decent quality package store in Salina, KS.  They stocked a lot of craft domestic including Against the Grain (local boys) and Stillwater (which I’ve hardly seen).  I purchased Anderson Valley’s Gose and headed back to the Cozy Inn.

I was planning to stay at the Salina KOA and needed dinner.  I ordered a dozen more sliders to pair with the gose, then headed out of town.  I’ve stayed in a couple KOAs and don’t really care for them.  Not that there’s anything wrong with them, I just would rather not pay to camp.  Personal issues.

Fortunately, I was able to find two trees to string the hammock between.  The pool was so chlorinated I thought my hair and beard would be bleached out by the morning.  This didn’t happen.  The mosquitoes were the worst of the trip, though.  I was forced to spend most of my time in the common area inside, where I destroyed 10 more sliders.  Then I felt sick and knew it was time to stop.  That night, I wasted food.  I’m eternally sorry for my sins.

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