Our visit to Ward came to an end, and we toodled on down the mountain, past the city of Boulder and east across the plains. Mac’s panel truck’s top speed of about 55 miles per hour was slightly enhanced by the downhill nature of the direction we were headed. Our pledge to each other to stop smoking cigarettes on the trip had led us, in our nicotine withdrawal, to try not only cigars, but also Red Man chewing tobacco as alternatives. Consequently, the passenger side of the truck was becoming slick with dried sugary tobacco juice, expectorated at highway speed, a fact which didn’t go unnoticed by folks we came in contact with. It would be another 20 years or so before some of us could break out from the grip of the tobacco industry.
After a drop in altitude for the day’s journey of about 7,000 feet, we found a state park in central Kansas where we could camp for the night, The campground was on a recently man-made lake, devoid of trees, and set up for vacationers with power boats. My father, an avid sailor with an inherent dislike for motorboat wakes and the accompanying smell of two-cycle gasoline floating on the water, called them “putt-putts.” The only other campers were a father-and-son pair, much too close to us, and we had to listen to Daddy expounding loudly to his unfortunate young offspring on all sorts of much-too-serious issues within the solitude of their tent. We made the best of it. Mac cooked up a stir-fry, we had a few tunes, and then hit the old sack.