On the way out of the parking lot I finally noticed the writing on the marquee in front of the hotel. "Well now, that's a first," I thought to myself. "I've never stayed in a motel that promised Free Adult Movies In Every Room before." Even if I'd known, I probably wouldn't have bothered to turn on the neolithic television set. Adult Movies? Hah! That's what the internet is for! (Just ask the denizens of Avenue Q.)
I queued up a Bryant and May Mystery audiobook called "The Water Room" and got down to pedaling. Apropos of murder and mystery, I got to take a quiet detour in a local graveyard:
I also noticed this sign, apropos of the book "Methland" that I finished a few days ago:
And this sign, apropos of nothing, and very strange taken out of context:
Also, trains! Chuffa chuffa chuffa chuffa.
Sometime in the afternoon, I saw a truck pull over to the opposite side of the road with a very badly blown front tire. I rolled to a stop, and watched a grizzled man in work boots climb out of the cab and inspect the flat with a look of harried frustration on his face. He was clearly late for something.
I waited for a lull in the noise of passing big-rigs, and then shouted "Need a hand?"
"Well," said the man, "I've got a spare; now I just need to find that jack..." He opened the rear doors of his cab and began rummaging around in the back seat. "Ahah! I hope this works. I've never had to change a tire on this thing before. Man, why today? I'm already late for work..."
I walked my bike across the road and parked it behind his truck, and swapped my bike helmet for a baseball cap. The man was trying to raise the jack under one of the suspension arms in the frame, and I warned him away from doing so before he damaged his suspension. He didn't seem to mind the help.
We got the jack squared away. Then I sat crosslegged on the gravelly shoulder while he wrestled with the bendy metal handle, cranking the flat tire up into the air. We chatted about trucks and vans and my bicycle trip, in segments of words, speaking during the gaps in the howling traffic. He turned out to be a very nice fellow. He listened to my story, then asked my age. "Sounds like you're having one of those mid-life-crisis things. The only thing I can think of to say is, figure out where you want to live. That will make the other decisions easier."
He eventually yanked the flat tire off and threw it into the bed of his truck - causing it to wobble alarmingly on the jack. After that we got the decrepit spare lowered from its retention cable and fitted it on. While the man was tightening it down, I swapped into my biking gear, anticipating that he would want to make a fast getaway.
We wished each other a safe journey, and as I was about to ride away, he came running back and shook my hand again, pressing a five dollar bill into it. "Here's something to help with supper. Thanks again for stopping."
Supper turned out to be Montana Mike's again, in Newton. First place I've been where they serve a "Ceasar Salad" with raw onions and iceberg lettuce on it. The motel across from the restaurant was brand-new and very comfortable, though.