“OK, let’s go see the tin man.” Not your typical segue, but I’ll roll with it. I’d just had dinner with Dick and Joan Smith, new friends who welcomed me into their home with open arms. Out in the yard, that was certainly a tin man — 13 feet and 700 pounds worth! The retired professors had seen the roadside landmark in Oklahoma countless times, but when the property was for sale, they showed heart and had it shipped to their home in Pueblo, Colorado. Today, he stands guard over the basil plants, chicken coop and errant nighttime flywheel casts by visitors like myself. All with a friendly smile and occasional electrical arm salute. Meanwhile, Joan was inside plotting my course through Kansas and Missouri. Leaving them behind Tuesday was tough, but eastward I must go. A day made all the tougher when my cart started its blistering phase — “Coogs” had two flats by lunchtime. At least the front tire was hanging tough. I was trying to see the glass as 1/3 full, until a 23-mile walk to Fowler in sweltering heat (and no shade in sight) left me exhausted, cranky and not-quite-seeing-the-glass-as-1/3-full anymore. But then, everything changed once I crossed the city limit. On the first block, I met Paul and Ed closing up shop at their garage. They put a cold beer in my hand, talked local history and said they’d soothe Coogs’ wounds in the morning. Feeling better about things already. I was about to head for the RV park a mile down the road when Mark Brown entered the garage, having spotted my disabled cart out front. “I’ve been looking for you,” he said. “Have you eaten?” Flash forward an hour, Mark, his wife Janice, daughter Kendra and I were finishing up brownie sundaes, appreciating an incredible rainbow just outside and planning to head over to the motel across the street, where they put me up for the night. “Were you guys heading out to eat when you spotted me?” I asked Mark. “We were out looking for you.” An amazing display of heartfelt generosity from friends I didn’t yet know. A beautiful end to a trying day. Some days you pick the grapes. Some days you drink the wine. On this day, I did a little of both.