It seemed like a perfect case of people going their separate ways, without anger, malice aforethought, or even the slightest bit of irritation. In fact, it seemed perfectly amicable.
Randa’s friend Eileen had asked her to go with her to look at a “living quarters horse trailer” about an hour south of Atchison. I had asked my friend Neil to go for a motorcycle ride. Randa needed to leave around three-thirty in the afternoon, and I needed to leave shortly after. Seeing as how we both figured to be gone for a few hours, it seemed like mighty fine mutual timing.
And so, on an absolutely beautiful spring day in northeastern Kansas, we took our leaving at our leisure. A half-hour later, Randa and Eileen were headed to south to Easton and Neil and I were headed west to Highland. Gusts of wind clipping thirty miles-an-hour were a bit of a nuisance but not enough to ruin the curves or the miles and miles view of rolling fields and hills. Bradford pears were in full bloom and a late green showed in the seams of ditches and banks. Farmers chiseled long lines of seeding in the dark dirt of Doniphan County fields with the temperature in the low Eighties.
After visiting a mutual friend in Highland for an hour-and-a-half or so, Neil and I turned our bikes south toward Severance and headed on over to Atchison.
Our plan was to grab a burger and a beer at Mueller’s Locker Room, hang out on the deck munching fries and watching the river go by. As we rode through Bendena and then turned south on K-7, I kept an eye out for a couple of women in a pickup truck pulling a long horse trailer. Never saw any, though.
Neil and I parked our bikes in Mueller’s parking lot, sauntered our way up onto the outside dining area and picked out a table. We sat for a while, chatting, and watching the Missouri River slide by, weaving between the long shadows and breaks of light that shimmered its surface and silvered the swirls. After we ordered, Neil went to wash his hands. I was so struck by the novelty of the idea that I decided to do the same thing after he got back to our table.
Just past the bar at the edge of the inside dining area, I took a hard right and headed to the hallway accessing the bathrooms. A few minutes later, as I came back through the dining area, I noticed two women sitting at a booth almost directly in front of me. Still wearing my black riding jacket, I walked over to the table without either of them noticing me. In my best “trying to be helpful” voice, I asked, “Can I get you ladies anything else?”
They both looked up, then burst out laughing. It was Randa and Eileen. Of all the gin joints in all the world…
I left them to their sharing and went back out to the dining deck and rejoined Neil. An hour later, we crossed the river and headed north on US-59 toward Saint Joseph. A soft blush of pale green showed on the fringes of trees covering the Missouri Bluffs on our right. The occasional bright white of Bradford pear glowed in contrast. To our left, far off across the bottoms and beyond the Kansas ridge, a red ball sunset settled down into the horizon.
Between the well-laid plans and the spontaneous serendipity at Mueller’s, it had been a mighty fine ride. Some of life’s best moments pop up at the intersection of intention and circumstance. Keep your eyes open and ride safe!