A Journey of a Thousand Miles
by Ken Hartke

My journey of a thousand miles started with a rented trailer. I carefully filled it and my pickup truck with treasured belongings from the previous 40  years. I enlisted an adventuresome friend to help with the move and enjoy the road trip. We were intentionally avoiding the interstate because we were going to experience rural, small town America!

On moving day we headed out across the Missouri hills and, four hours into the journey, crossed into Kansas. It was a beautiful summer day. We drove through small towns and past farms; the people of Kansas were so very friendly…waving and shouting from their front yards. Wow, what a surprise — how nice. We couldn’t hear what they were saying but we smiled and waved back. A few honked their horns. We smiled and waved. We stopped at an old Dairy Queen ice cream stand left over from the 1950s. How cool –- a relic from my childhood. A few cars honked and people shouted and waved as they drove past. Okay, we waved but this was a little much. These folks needed to get out more.

Traffic picked up as we approached Wichita. The sky opened and it began pouring rain. As we drove into town the drivers in the other cars all seemed to be looking at us. I noticed an odd noise coming from their cars as they drove past. Hmmm…they all seemed to have the same odd noise. The rain got worse so we decided to spend the night in Wichita. We found a motel on the far side of town and pulled into the parking lot. That’s when the wheel fell off the trailer. There was a lot of smoke and noise. It was still raining the next morning as transferred the stuff to a new trailer.

IMAGE: Vintage postcard, Wichita, Kansas.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was moving from mid-Missouri to New Mexico in 2013 with the help of a friend. As we were driving along pulling the rental trailer through eastern Kansas we were calling attention to ourselves, unknowingly, by the sound of the trailer’s wheel bearing deteriorating.  We assumed the waving and shouting locals were just being friendly. We couldn’t hear the noise in the cab of the pickup truck. If a bearing is going out in a car, the driver can hear it going bad — but not so much with a towed trailer. There was eventually a small amount of smoke and steam (from the rain) by the time we arrived in Wichita but, again, we were clueless. Not until we heard the strange noises bouncing back from each of the passing cars did we realize that maybe it was us and not them. With the driving rain (about seven inches over two days) and new suspicions about the trailer, we decided to stop and, luckily, the wheel made it to the motel before falling off. We were lucky.  The trailer rental company (U-Haul) provided another trailer the next morning but they were not eager to help transfer the cargo in the rain.  We were delayed about three hours with the transfer but made the rest of the trip unscathed.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Hartke moved to The Land of Enchantment a few years ago and began writing. They say New Mexico does that to people. Widowed, retired and with new (and old) experiences to share he could be at it for a while. Travel tales and descriptions of places, especially old hotels, make up much of his recent writing. His other passion, photography, provides more fuel for his pen. Visit him at feralchats. wordpress.com.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In Peru – on another journey.