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Happy Anniversary!

Hank – I forgot to mention that Mike, the Plainview city administrator, stopped by to check on us last night. It’s wonderful to see people who have so much pride in their community. Mike was very welcoming and he appreciated our thanks for the free showers at the swimming pool.  We also expressed our thanks for the city providing camping spots in their park. That has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of touring through Nebraska.

Again we woke early to get a jump on the heat, which was slated to be even higher today. The winds were really blowing, coming from the south. The forecast called for 20-25 mph winds with 30+ gusts for the next two days. Instead of riding east to Sioux City, IA at a 70-degree angle leaning against the crosswinds, Kathy and I decided to head north to Yankton, SD today and let the wind push us there. We grabbed a couple of snacks at the nearby gas station. While we were outside, Troy Goetz rolled up on his Trek 520. Troy lives in Plainview, NE and works a few miles east of town at an ethanol plant. He was going to go on a long ride but decided against it after fighting the wind for a few miles. He was going to eat a quick breakfast and offered to ride with us. Chugging along as slow as we are it didn’t take him long to catch up. He and I talk about cycling–of course–and that helped make the 10 miles to Osmond pass quickly.  I got into a groove and eventually noticed we were dropping Kathy, So I slowed down to let her catch up. She told me later we were cruising along at 14 mph. At Osmond Troy said goodbye and we wished him well.

We stopped in the Osmond City Park–Have I mentioned Nebraska city parks rule?–which also provides camp sites. As with just about every other small town there’s some sort of homage paid to the glory of the railroad days.

After 20 miles of riding sideways we finally hit Hwy 81 and turned north. Wow, what a difference that wind makes, especially pushing me up the gradual climbs. I could almost always keep it on the big chain ring. The return of investment I was getting on the effort I was putting out was phenomenal. Although we were sweating a lot from the heat and humidity, I wasn’t really working that hard. I mentioned that to Kathy and she said she was working hard. Regardless, we gobbled up the miles, stopping once at a farm house to refill our water bottles, and the next thing you know we are coasting into Yankton.

Since we were super hot and sweaty and it wasn’t going to cool down at all tonight, we opted for a hotel night. After eating a well-deserved late lunch we stopped by the Ace bike shop. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a full service bike shop inside an Ace Hardware Store. It’s the only bike shop in town and they’re open every day. We dropped the bikes off for a tune-up and were going to call a taxi to haul us and our bags to the hotel. But two people Kathy met in the store, Kevin and Monica McMahon of Flandreau, SD offered to give us a ride in their pickup truck. They are camping with friends at one of the many campgrounds in the recreational area along the Missouri River and Lewis and Clark Lake. Wow, here we are getting hit with another random act of kindness. We learned they have friends in Washington and we let them know they have a place to stay any time they come through Spokane. We hope we get to see them again.

After showers and laundry–dang, I forgot to wash my gloves again–we had a quiet dinner in the restaurant. After all, it’s our 38th wedding anniversary. It’s a special day as is every day I get to spend with Kathy. For those who don’t know the story, I knew the moment I saw her that Kathy was the one. For me it was love at first sight. It took her several sights. But then she was the one who told me she was going to marry me. Nobody thought it would last and here we are 38 years later, mostly due to Kathy’s work on my poor communication skills, which have improved slightly on some days. 🙂

Kathy – Today we rode a total of 64 miles with 1,100 feet of elevation. Our first 20 miles we fought a fierce crosswind, then we turned out of the wind and had a totally awesome tailwind for the remaining miles.  Those remaining miles were clocked in at 15 – 17 mph, which is fantastic timing for all the weight on the bikes.  The winds were blowing 20 – 25 mph sustained winds with 30 mph gusts.  Even though we left early, the temperature rose quickly to 95 degrees and the wonderful Midwest humidity contributed to the heat index registering in at 100 – 105 degrees.  It was a very hot day!  I was very happy with Hank’s suggestion this morning to divert from our original plan and go to Yankton, South Dakota instead.

Upon our arrival, we got cold drinks and a bite to eat before stopping by the local bike shop.  When we arrived at the bike shop Monica and Kevin stopped to ask me about our bikes and our trip.  We had a good conversation and once they found out that the bike shop wanted our bikes now (rather than tomorrow), they offered to give us a ride (and all our bags) to the hotel about three miles away.  That was so nice of them!  We were thrilled that we didn’t have to ride the last few miles in the heat.  Total strangers being so kind to us.  We are truly blessed by the generosity of the wonderful people we are meeting.  Thank you so much Monica and Kevin!!  You’re ROCK STARS!

Another note, today is our 38th Anniversary.  I must say it hasn’t been one where we are pampering each other with gifts, fancy dinners, or anything truly phenomenal.  We rode 64 miles in windy and hot conditions.  We arrived at the hotel dirty, gritty, hot, sweaty and exhausted.  A good scrubbing was first on our agenda along with turning the air conditioner up full blast to help cool us down.  Now we are clean and tired.  Rest is our friend now.  We ‘celebrated’ with dinner and a drink at the hotel restaurant before crashing for the night.  It may not be what some think as a good anniversary, but it was good.  Think about it, I got to spend the entire day with Hank and we get to enjoy this bike trip together.  And, regardless of the crummy weather we had a good time together today.  Another year with my best friend, lucky me!

We have been on the bikes for eight weeks now, so I thought I would share a few stats…

  • Total Mileage – 1,880 Miles!
  • Total Elevation Gain – 52,430 Feet
  • Days with a Headwind – 46
  • Off Days (No Riding) – 10
  • Lodging Info – Camping: 26 Days, Hotels: 18 Days, Family/Friends: 8 Days, and Warm Showers: 5 Days
  • Flat Tires – Kathy: 4 flats (2 front/2 back)  Hank: 0 flats
  • Jars of Peanut Butter Consumed – 2
  • States Visited – 8

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At Times We Are All Klowns

Hank – We woke up at 5:00 am and had tea and a light breakfast. We planned to get a jump on the 90 degree heat headed our way. Then mother nature piped up and told us the party in O’Neill was not over yet.  We heard thunder in the distance. Soon we could see the lightning. I checked the weather radar. The only thunderstorm in the state decided to form up and come our way. Wonderful. We packed up and got under a shelter so we wouldn’t have to pack a wet tent. Then we waited it out. The worst of the storm was south of us. We were to ride southeast for 10 or so miles into the path of the storm’s center before turning east. Hence the wait.

Once we were in the clear we headed southeast on Hwy 20–into strong gusting headwinds. I plowed for 14 miles before we turned east. The crosswind was much easier to deal with.

Dusty got up early, too, and we were playing leapfrog to Plainview, which is where we stopped. He rested there for a bit and hit the road again.

We had fewer towns to stop by on the way to Plainview. Kathy and I stopped in Orchard and had a meal at Sugarz. It was pretty decent. There must be an Amish or Amish-like community there. We saw a horse and buggy tied up behind the gas station and a couple people in traditional clothes. We got back on the road and cranked out the miles again.

Plainview has a city park with free campsites. We love how many towns in Nebraska do that. While setting up our tent Kandie drove up and talked to us. She used to be on the park board and wanted to help us out. She called Mike, the city administrator, who called the swimming pool next door to us and asked them to let us use their showers. How cool!

Coming into town we saw a sign for the Klown Doll Museum. We knew we had to check that out. We walked over and saw thousands of clown dolls, paintings, and other clown-related memorabilia.

After the museum we took refreshing cold showers and washed today’s clothes too. After hanging up our wet clothes, Kandie showed up again with a gallon of cold lemonade, a package of Chips Ahoy cookies, and a greeting card welcoming us to Plainview. We’re getting the celebrity treatment here!

We walked to Mary’s restaurant in town for dinner. Come 6:00 pm we were pretty tired but it was too early for bed.

Kathy – Another 50 miles completed today with only about 500 feet of elevation. The temps were HOT. Today was a mix of good and bad.

The Bad:

  • Getting up early to avoid the heat then a thunderstorm holds you up.
  • The Hellish Headwinds in our face for 14 miles.
  • The temps – with the humidity the heat index is in the 90’s. You’re just wet even after you shower, no getting around the Midwest humidity.

The Good:

  • Riding with Hank who let me draft off him for the first 14 miles.
  • After 14 miles the winds changed directions slightly making it MUCH easier to ride.
  • Happy to be making it out of ‘stink zone.’ For the last four days the air has stunk so bad. Think of a mixture of cow/pig crap and fertilizer mixed with all the wetness in the area. Diane T. thinking of you and your hometown area. Now I know why you live in Medford, Oregon. 😄 Happy to arrive in Plainview, Nebraska where it smells wonderful!
  • A shower (cold but refreshing!) and a clean body.
  • Less mosquitos to devour us today.
  • The Clown Doll Museum, fun!
  • I planted my Nebraska flowers (state #8) – one packet of flowers per State as part of my campaign to Make America Even More Beautiful.
  • Kandie! Such a kind and compassionate gal going out of her way for us. Calling city officials to get us free showers at the pool, bringing us fresh ice cold lemonade with cookies and a welcome card that included her home and cell numbers should we need anything tonight. She is pretty awesome and we were lucky enough to have met her.

So exhausted, as I rest my head on my blow-up pillow tonight I will remember all the good things during my day…and be thankful for them.