The Heart City


Hank – Before we went to bed last night we got a FaceTime call from my Aunt Janet and Uncle Mike. It was great to chat with them and catch up on the changes they’re going through with selling their house in Seattle and moving to Portland. They look forward to our blog posts every evening. While we were talking another bike tourer showed up at the city park. She set up camp on the opposite side of the bathroom, probably to put a sound barrier between her and the two hard-of-hearing camp mates trying to carry on a conversation with their relatives.

It was hot and humid in Cody last night. And just to rub it in the wind died down. I spent the night lying on top of my sleeping bag and sticking to it. Every time I turned over I would have to peel the sleeping bag off my skin, adjust it back under me, and then stick back to it again. I did not sleep well. Neither did Kathy.

Today’s ride to Valentine called for 37 miles with 200 feet of climbing and 700 feet of descent. Sure it does, Google Maps. Sure it does. We’re supposed to have rain in Valentine by 1:00 pm. That’s fine because we know we’re in a hotel room tonight.

We had a light breakfast and tea and that’s when got to meet Miriam Klein this morning. When she came in last night she thought we were a couple of teenage guys, which is pretty funny. Miriam takes two weeks every year to ride across the country in sections. She first started from home in Louisville KY and rode for a month to Albany NY.  The next year she rode from Albany to Portland ME. This is her fifth year and she going from Norfolk NE to Casper WY. She used to cycle a lot when she was younger and decided she needed to do this now while she was able to. She turns 59 next week. Miriam uses a one-way rental car to get to her starting point and another to go home from the end point. We chatted for quite a bit in the morning and we let her know she has a place to stay should she come to Spokane, which she plans to do. Cool!

We left Miriam, who was traveling west, and headed east on Hwy 20 again. The miles passed quickly. As we were approaching Kilgore an oncoming pickup truck stopped next to us. It was Dusty who we met at the Husker Hub in Cody. She wished us safe travels again and reminded us there was nothing ahead of us until we got to Valentine. We had a snack in Kilgore and started pushing the pedals again. On the way out of Kilgore we passed into the Central Time Zone for reals this time. Crookston was the next town. Nothing open there either for two reasons: today is Sunday and there’s nothing there to be open. We sat in the shade of a grain elevator and had another snack. The last 12 miles to Valentine passed uneventfully. When we got to town we found that the two restaurants Dusty recommended were closed. One doesn’t open on Sunday but the other opens at 4:00 pm. So we checked into our motel, which had a room ready for us, got showered and did laundry. After experiencing a couple of humid days and the sticky night last night, there’s something to be said for lying on a bed in an air conditioned room–pardon the visual–and letting the creases air out. In the meantime the thunderstorms hit, dumping a ton of rain. After the storm passed by we walked to the Peppermill Restaurant. Kathy got a Chardonnay with her dinner. I ordered a Jack and Coke. “Single or a double?” the waitress asked. I am so weak when they twist my arm like that. I got a double. I had the ribeye steak and Kathy got the BBQ brisket. They were both delicious. (Kathy couldn’t eat all the brisket so I helped.)  We were nice and relaxed at the end of our meals. Time to watch a movie and fall asleep.

Kathy – Yet another great day of riding seeing beautiful landscapes and meeting great people.  These are the good things about our trip.  We ended up logging 40 miles today and as Hank stated the Google Map must be wrong again.  Regardless of the elevation gain/loss it was a nice ride into Valentine, Nebraska.  Miriam was a great gal and it was good to meet and talk with her.  It is a huge accomplishment to travel alone, especially for a female bike traveler.  We wish her well.   Happy to be in the hotel tonight and have a rest day tomorrow from riding after our seven day stretch.  A good dinner in our bellies, a nice comfy bed and no doubt we will rest much better tonight than last night.  Sleep well!


A Welcoming Small Town

Hank – We broke camp early in Gordon and went to the Antelope Creek Cafe where an insistent bell rang every time the door opened and closed. I washed a pair of my bike shorts in bathroom. There was hot water, soap, time before my breakfast showed up, and the price was right. I talked Kathy into doing the same because we were camping in Cody and wouldn’t have laundry until the hotel in Valentine on Sunday and we needed clean shorts.

When we left the cafe Kathy put on her patriotic sunglasses she picked up in Deadwood. It brought memories of the movie Easy Rider. The ride to Merriman was pretty much nondescript. Just up and down road. We stopped in Merriman hoping to eat. The cafe doesn’t open until 4:00 pm. The gas station had packaged ham and cheese sandwiches. I grabbed one of those and a lemonade. Kathy had 1 1/2 bags of potato chips and a cheese stick. We eat so good. I got to meet Sheena. She’s an old sweet dog who just wanted some love.

While riding from Merriman to Cody our phones changed time ahead one hour. There was no sign for the time zone change on the road so that was confusing. Kathy switched glasses to send a text and forgot to put the sunglasses back on. Consequently, they fell off her bike while she was ripping down a hill and lost one lense. No more Easy Rider.

We got through the 24 remaining miles to Cody. As usual Google Maps was deceptive. It called for 300 feet of climbing and 400 feet of descent on the way to Cody. We climbed well over 309 feet. Coming in to town we hit the Circle C student-run grocery store and picked up some food items since everything is closed tomorrow. The building is made if straw bales. Pretty cool.

We got to the Husker Hub a bit late for food but they went ahead and grilled some burgers for us. Dusty brought beer and Mike’s Hard over. We were invited to come back for drinks after setting up camp. While in the bar my phone switched back to mountain time. I checked with Dusty and she confirmed that was right. We’ll switch to central when somewhere around Kilgore east of here. Kathy’s phone is still off.

The bar was quiet and we hung out with Dusty, Wynette, and John. Wynette is moving to Rhame, ND to be with her boyfriend. “She’s in looooove,” said Dusty. Wynette asked us to sign the “retirement business cards” Kathy has printed that advertise our web site. I told her it costs $5.00 for my signature. She laughed like I was kidding so I let it go.ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰ John works for a company that builds bridges all over the country.

The city park is free for tenters and $20 for an RV hookup. They have bathrooms but no showers, which is fine for us. We washed up and changed clothes. A thunderstorm was moving in. I headed for the bar and Kathy decided to stay in the tent. I had the New York Strip steak special and a couple of Jack and Cokes. Very relaxing.

Kathy – Today’s 57-mile ride was predicted by Google Maps to be mainly downhill with only 500 feet of climbing. As Hank noted, obviously that is wrong. We had climbing in the first 20 miles but we still managed to clock 14 mph overall pace. Then things changed as we had constant rolling hills the remainder of the ride. I kept waiting for those 1,000 feet of downhill the Google predicted but we didn’t see that much of it. Regardless, it was a good ride. The temp was 82 degrees and sunny. With the heat we reapplied our suntan lotion to our funny looking tan lines often.

So in Merriman, Nebraska (30 miles into our day) we didn’t meet any merry men. We met three big old guys (that all looked pretty unkempt) at the gas station were we grabbed the only food available in town. We still had another 25 miles or so to go, so we couldn’t be picky with the choices available. One of the three old men never spoke. He just looked forward out the window while slowly nibbling on a heated up frozen burrito. The other two guys spoke a small amount, but not much.

We sat at the only table in the place which was dirty and dusty just like the entire place. Sometimes it’s hard to eat at these places because they are so dirty. Maybe it’s the nurse in me, but I’m not a big fan of dirty germy places. So we put some more crappy food into our bodies to fuel them. We didn’t get sick so all is well. There was a sign on the wall at the gas station advertising a BBQ, dancing, and live band in the town of Merriman tonight. Maybe the merry men will be there because they sure weren’t at the gas station.

We completed our ride to Cody, Nebraska and had a great burger at the Huskers Hub while meeting some really nice people. After setting up the tent we cleaned up in the park bathrooms. Which also meant washing my hair in the bathroom sink with cold water. I was hot so it felt good at first. Washing my bike shorts this morning in the restaurant bathroom then hanging them off the back of my bike to dry as we rode today, and then washing my hair in the park bathroom…how my life has dramatically changed in the past few months!! What have I gotten myself in to!! ๐Ÿ˜„

Tomorrow we arrive in Valentine, Nebraska which is where we will probably take a day off since it will be seven continuous days of riding then. I’m a little tired today. A day off from riding will be good. It’s also a hotel night! Looking forward to a bed, a warm shower and a hair dryer for this crazy hair of mine. It’s the little/basic things that are important now.