Taking Time To Relax

Hank – We decided to take the most direct route to Hot Springs today. We started off with a muffin and an egg, ham & cheese croissant from the Flying J. Gross but necessary. We had a misty rain at first but the remainder of the day we had mostly cloudy skies. Every once in a while the sun peaked through. We were making good time and decided to stop in Buffalo Gap and take a break. That meant we got to meet Elray, the owner and proprietor of the Buffalo Gap Trading Post. Kathy and I got drinks and chatted with Elray for a bit and checked out his wares. He has some cool old radios that I liked. Kathy saw a few things she would have picked up had we been in a car. Charles stopped by and said hello. He is quite the character with his dry wit and joke cracking. Elray said the colorful locals were part of the reason he moved here.

Leaving Buffalo Gap, we got back on the highway and quickly covered the 12 remaining miles to Hot Springs. The forecast had called for rain all day–it was wrong–and we reserved a motel room to stay dry. That turned out to be unnecessary. But what the heck. After checking in Kathy wanted to go to the Evans Hot Springs Plunge to swim in the hot springs pool there, which sounded like a great idea. The water temp is 87 degrees, which is pretty cool on a day like today. But they had regular hot tubs there so we sat in one and relaxed for a while. Back to the room for showers and then to a steak house for dinner. We hadn’t had a proper meal all day so we were pretty hungry. Unfortunately, this particular steak house leaves customer service as an afterthought. After waiting for an hour for our meal our waitress finally told us they were short staffed so meals were running late. That would have been good to know up front instead of after waiting for so long.So rather than use up more patches I tossed the tube.

I proposed another option to Kathy regarding her difficulties with the climbing we have to do at times. We could get a tandem and pull a trailer. That way we’d ride together and she could benefit from my stronger legs. She’s not too keen on that because of the expense, which is a valid point, but I’d prefer she was more comfortable. As it is, we’re not close enough to a city with bike shops that could offer that option to us. In the meantime, we’ll work closer on the routes and be more considerate of the distance and elevation gain.

Kathy – Today was such a wonderful day.  Hank and I both enjoyed our ride today…and our communication was back on track.  We rode 44 miles with 1,500 feet of elevation gain.  When we left our campsite this morning in a misty rain the forecast predicted rain all day.  Much to our surprise and appreciation it was cloudy with little rain.  After all the rain and thunderstorms we have been having recently we were thrilled with the dry weather during most of our ride.

We really enjoyed meeting Elray in Buffalo Gap today.  Our purpose for getting of going to the town was to eat but Elray only had frozen pizzas that he was willing to heat up for us which we declined. We just had a snack from our pannier bags instead.  Elray is originally from Montana and moved to Buffalo Gap about 12 years ago to be closer to his children.  He built his business himself, the Buffalo Gap Trading Post/Bar.  It is amazing just how much stuff he has collected in the place.  I seen so many really cool things that I would have purchased if I only had a car.  Before we left Elray and I agreed that I should come back after our bike trip in a car so I can bring home a few treasures.  It was great to meet Elray and Charles, they both are really good people.  This is one of the reasons we love to visit these small out of the way towns.

Once we arrived in Hot Springs, South Dakota we decided to hit the natural hot springs.  We we were not in them long because the water was so cold.  They said it was 87 degrees but it felt much colder.  Instead we opted for the hot tub…ahhh, so relaxing on the sore leg muscles.  We had a good dinner despite the long wait and then explored the town sites.  Days like today make this trip so worth it.  It really was a relaxing day.

Being Flexible Again

Hank – We got up at 6:00 am and checked the forecast, which called for rain by noon. So we had a light breakfast and got on the road by about 7:45. The plan changed. Instead of riding through the Black Hills to a campground a few miles past Mt. Rushmore we decided to skip all the elevation and instead take Hwy 44 into Rapid City and then divert south to Hermosa and camp there. It was mostly downhill on 44 and we made really good time. When we stopped in Rapid City to look for a place to get some breakfast a young man came out of a nearby building to talk to us. He was excited to learn about our adventure. Turns out he used to live in Spokane and loved it there. He gave us the name and directions to a good restaurant. We thanked him and resumed our journey.

Then things went sour. We did a long climb to the restaurant, arriving there at 9:30 only to find it opened at 11:00. Kathy was very hungry and now very upset. The only place open on our route to Hermosa was the Chuckwagon Supper and Show. Sausages, biscuits and gravy, and all you can eat pancakes were the only items on the menu. I’m not a fan of pork sausage but I knew I needed to eat. Kathy ate one and I almost got three down. I ate both of my plate-sized pancakes. Kathy got through half of hers. Total cost with two teas was $8.25. It was pretty sad, but necessary.

We got through the remaining 14 miles to Hermosa and got a sheltered tent site at the Southern Hills RV camp. Pulling up we saw three giant busts of past presidents–Kennedy, Reagan, and George W Bush. The lady running the place said some guy had busts made of all the presidents and charged admission to see them. But it turned out to be a bust (pun intended) and he donated them to various places. The campground was soggy, just like everywhere else, but a good layer of snall gravel was on top in the tent site. And we had 1-3 more inches of rain on the way.

After setting up the tent we waited out a passing thunderstorm. Then we got on the bikes and rode to the Lintz Brother’s Pizza place. On the way there Kathy got her fourth flat tire. I changed out the tube but couldn’t find what caused the flat. I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt me. The pizza was great so it was worth the trip. We looked at our projected ride from Hermosa to Hot Springs via Custer State Park. Rather than spend the entire day in the rain we got a tent site at a campground in the park about 15 miles from Hermosa. We’ll camp there and then spend the sunny Thursday in the forecast cruising through the park to Hot Springs.

We stopped by the Flying J for some groceries. I cut through a muddy parking lot to take a photo of the drive in movie sign. That was a huge mistake. Next thing I know I have mud squeezing out the sides of my fenders. My wheels were flinging mud all the way back to the campground.
We got showers and laundry out of the way just in time for another storm to come through. And I hosed the mud off my bike. We passed the time playing cribbage in the tent while a storm hit. I noticed the water pooling up on the ground around us. I hope this tent floats.

Kathy – We decided since to skip going to Mt. Rushmore since we have seen it about ten times in the past. We often came to visit my brother Stan and his wife Rhonda when they were stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota. Their young daughter Joleigh, (then between the ages of 5-10) would often say, “We are going to go see the heads.” So, we’ve seen the “heads” (Mt. Rushmore) many times. With so much rain and thunderstorms in the area (along with climbing 4,000 feet) it just wasn’t worth it. Our plans are changing daily with all of the rain/thunderstorms around the area this week.

Today we rode 45 miles with 1,200 feet of elevation. Today was a tough day. Hank and I were not in sync with our communication. Actually, Hank was not communicating with me on our road travel plans, elevation details, restaurant location details, etc. He traveled so far ahead of me that we couldn’t talk because of the traffic noise, and at times he was not following the rules of the road which he has preached to me for many years. We road 23 miles without stopping for a break (two hours) and the last five miles included some very steep climbing in the midst of road construction. By the time we reached the closed restaurant I was soaking wet from sweating during all the climbing, hungry, needed to empty my bladder, and really frustrated with Hank for being so far ahead and not letting me know what the plan was. Hank is our navigator and today was supposed to be “all downhill.” At 17 miles he said we would be there soon, then no communication after that and he was too far ahead for me to talk to him. I thought about stopping to get a snack but I kept thinking the restaurant was coming up soon so don’t ruin your appetite. Don’t feel sorry for Hank, he was in his own world and not thinking of me. I know it wasn’t intentional, he just rides and gets in his on element. I am still struggling with the elevations at times. My muscles are sore, I don’t complain and keep going, so Hank thinks all is well. I will do better with voicing my soreness without complaining.

You may be thinking, why am I airing our personal issues in this blog? Well, it’s for you to see we are not perfect and there are occasional days when it doesn’t go well. Also, this blog is to tell the good and the not so good times. When I think of our days on the road, other than this morning there is only one other day where I felt like giving up. Both occasions are when Hank and I were not in sync with our communication. I can do anything as long as we are a team here, when we have these occasional bad days it is hard for us both. The good thing is we talked about it afterwards and all is well now. Even though I was frustrated this morning, I’m not giving up. We are in this for the long haul. Yes, we will have more days when we are not communicating well, we won’t like them at the time but we will get through them too. We have been married 37 years, today was just one day. We are six weeks into this and have only had two not so good communication days. Overall that’s pretty good. We love each other and are committed to making all things work. We had a good afternoon and evening today and know tomorrow will be a better day for us both.