Hank – We woke up to a foggy morning. The Cowboy Trail, a 300+ mile rail trail has a trailhead right across the street from the hotel we were at. We rolled down the trail to cross the iron trestle that goes over the Niobrara River. The fog was thick so we couldn’t see much from the bridge. After that we got on Hwy 20 and set sail for Long Pine, NE.
We had a couple of small climbs at first. After that it was mostly flat the rest of the way. After doing a waypoint photo at Wood Lake, we ran into Craig Andresen who had to kind of squeeze by us because we had stopped in the middle of the intersection he was trying to turn into. Craig was excited to learn about our adventure. He’s had a few himself including getting to fly in the back seat of an Air Force Thunderbird fighter. A few miles later we got hungry and stopped on the roadside to make a sandwich. A nice couple in a pickup passed by, turned around, and asked if we needed help. We thanked them for checking up on us but that we were doing fine. Later on we stopped in Johnstown and had a cold drink and a snack at the L Bow Room Saloon.
The day grew hotter so at the next town in line, Ainsworth, we had an ice cream at the Pump and Pantry and visited the local museum, which was really cool. They had an 1889 bone shaker and a wide variety of ancient fossils among the many displays.
The last leg of our trip brought us to the day’s destination, Long Pine. We went into town to have a meal and to decide whether to camp at the nearby state park or at the city park. We had an early dinner at the Sandhills Lounge, where we met Jim Carley. Jim offered to show us around after he got off at 5:30. Kathy and I scouted the state park and decided to stick with the city park. We pitched the tent, threw our bags in, and locked the bikes up. Jim picked us up and took us to his place in Hidden Paradise. It’s a small canyon near Long Pine with lots of trees and a refreshing freshwater stream running through it. Back in the day the likes of Tommy Dorsey and Lawrence Welk drew large crowds to Hidden Paradise. Jim and his wife Nancy have a house in town and a church they bought too. He calls it the House of Coors Light. During the summer they live in their Hidden Paradise house. Jim is quite the character cracking jokes at every opportunity. He fed the trout in the stream–nobody fishes the trout because they’re treated more like pet. Jim tossed bits of bread into the stream. A minute later several trout swam upstream to the bread and gobbling it up as quickly as they could. Jim and Nancy will celebrate their 48th anniversary soon. They are both fun to hang out with. Jim gave us a ride back and we met Dusty, another bike traveler who is going the same route we are to Sioux City. He’s riding a mountain bike and pulling a trailer.
Kathy – Our travels today took us further along upper Nebraska with a total of 60 miles completed and only a few hundred feet of elevation. It was a good day of riding and meeting new people. We met Craig in Wood Lake, Nebraska, Lynn and her husband in Johnstown, Nebraska, and Jim and Nancy in Lone Pine, Nebraska. All of these folks were so kind and it was a joy to spend time with them.
The museum in Ainsworth, Nebraska was pretty cool to visit. Apparently the museum had so much memorabilia in it that they had to add on to the museum. Once they filled the new section of the building with additional historic items it again became too full, so they built another museum to house their remaining historic artifacts.
Our best time today was hanging out with Jim and Nancy. They are really down to earth people. Jim grew up in the area and is really passionate about the town of Lone Pine. He offered a wealth of information along with picking us up in his truck and showing us the town and Hidden Paradise. Lucky us to then get to meet his wife Nancy who is just as kind. We sat on their patio at their summer home in Hidden Paradise. We had a cold drink as we chatted while watching the clear crisp water flow directly in front us in the stream that runs right through their property. A nice cool breeze greeted is along with having wonderful conversations. We seen fish in the stream, humming birds, and a cardinal bird. Beautiful area and beautiful people. We hope to possibly meet up with these two as we travel through Florida. That would be fun. So great day, but we are a bit tired tonight. Sleep well. 😄