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I’m in Mickey Mantle country.

Mickey grew up in Commerce, Kansas (I passed through it today), and began his professional baseball career playing with the Whiz Kids team of Baxter Springs (where I am staying tonight). Other than having his baseball card when I was a kid (wish I still had it), this is as close to the great Mickey Mantle as I’ll ever be. (We were not Yankees fans in my house.)

I walked 18 miles today from Miami to Baxter Springs (pop. 4,238), and am staying at a lovely B&B Guest House called the Rose Cottage, well-maintained and filled with antiques, interesting period items, and Route 66 memorabilia. I chatted with the owner, Jane, for over an hour after arriving. She is friendly and hospitable, and I enjoyed hearing about her time here and in Wichita, and her married daughter who lives in Brooklyn, New York (my birthplace; now you know why we did not follow the Yankees).

It is really cold out this morning, but thankfully not windy. I took neighborhood roads out of Miami. On the way I stopped at the post office and mailed home some stuff I don’t need. This freed up space in my kart.

For the next hour or two I shed layers of clothing as I walked on Hwy 69 ALT. The shoulder was wide, the sun was shining, the wind was calm, and that’s pretty much all I ask for these days.

On my way to Baxter Springs, I passed through Quapaw, OK, where I got a friendly nod from the sheriff who was driving by. I stopped at a clean picnic area and rested for a while.

If anyone is following my route on a map, I’m now headed north towards the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate in Overland Park, Kansas. (Sorry, Jack, but I don’t have time to play). At that point, I head east toward Hwy 50.

Looking at the map, it appears I’m almost at the very center of the US! Turns out I’m close, but the true geographical location belongs to Lebanon, Kansas, about 370 miles northwest of where I am.

@ Baxter Springs, Kansas

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