After a mind-numbingly monotonous day of riding 55 completely straight miles on state route 96 through endless corn and wheat fields, I was really happy to arrive at Ben's home. My Warm Showers host for the night was bound to be more entertaining than my Tour de Corn. When I arrived at his underground home, it was clear that things were about to get interesting.
I'm not totally sure why Ben's home was partially underground. I assumed it had something to do with the fact that he was a pilot and lived across the street from the hangar that he managed. Then again, that doesn't necessarily explain having an underground home. You know, I was really happy to have a roof over my head, so I didn't really ask too many questions. Ben was a welcoming host who seemed content getting to know us.
The first thing this 28-year-old pilot did was drive us to Scott City's laundromat upon our request. I knew Ben was a real dude the moment he turned on his car. Our ears were immediately filled with tunes broadcasted by the local Mexican radio station. During the 4-minute ride I continuously wondered why he wasn't changing the station-the vast majority of my white friends were pretty bugged out by Mexican music. Ben seemed unperturbed. Was it possible that he actually liked this music? On the ride home from the laundromat I just came out with it, "Dude, do you like this music?"
He plainly responded, "Well, my cousin-in-law, er, whatever his title is, is Mexican. After listening to it a little bit it sorta grew on me. The rancheros are pretty good!" Any white dude that listens to Mexican country music is automatically in, in my book.
That evening we partook in a vegetarian pasta dinner. During the meal Ben explained, vividly, how the best way to stave off aggressive dogs is by screaming "GEEEIIIIIITTTT!" in a thick Southern accent. This story and others had Celine and I rolling in laughter. In addition to the funny stories, Ben described life in this small town of about 3,000 people. I was amazed by a picture he had taken from his backyard of a gigantic Twister which touched down just a few miles West of his home. He told us about how when a tornado passes nearby, everyone in the town comes outside to watch the spectacle from afar. Though it seemed such a plain town, Scott City had some extraordinary happenings.
The highlight of my day took place just before bed. Ben had previously asked if I would take a look at his bike with him. As my self-imposed bedtime approached, I offered to give it a quick look. He declined my offer, "It's all good man. The bike's over in the hangar. I don't mean to drag you out there."
"In the hangar? Like, with the planes? Aw man, if it's not to much trouble I'd love to check out the hangar." Being the great host that he was, Ben proceeded to give me a private tour of the hangar. It was unforgettable. I felt like a little kid going to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum for the first time. The hangar was packed with funky 1970's and 1980's planes. I could've seen James Bond piloting any one of these bad boys. Well, I imagined either Connery, Lazenby or Craig piloting them, not the other lame Bonds. I guess you could include Moore too, he was kind of bad ass. But definitely not Dalton or Brosnan. Anyways, I sat in the pilot seat, spoke through the microphone system and got well acquainted with these aircrafts. It was unforgettable.
And so, as it has been with the rest of this trip, it doesn't matter where I'm at, rather who I'm with. As some of Kansas' novelty began to wear off, I met a cool pilot who reminded me that people make the world go round.