(Day 7 is missing, I know. And with more Tatonka and everything! I'll catch up when I can. :)
Well, I got up at the usual time, but with a 2 am bedtime, I was running on 4 hours sleep today. I've been getting about 6 hours of sleep every night since Colorado and have been doing remarkably well for someone who used to be unbearable with less than 10. Ok, that *was* high school, but I still like my sleep.
Phone calls have been rare for the last week, but I spoke with both my sister and mother before leaving. I looked out the window while I was chatting with Mom and my eyes got big and suddenly had to go. The hotel flag was blowing in the wind and the sky looked grey and ominous. I said my goodbyes and got moving. I called the park to get directions and was apparently only 26 miles away.
I did make a stop at the Walmart down the street to see if they had Zhu Zhu's - apparently this season's Cabbage Patch-Elmo-Beanie Baby that everyone wants, but no one, including my sister, can find. Neither can I.
I left Walmart for the Agate Fossil Bed National Monument and a shop outside of town announced that it was 830 am and 62 degrees. I decided that since it was only 26 miles away, I'd get gas after stopping at the park. (oops. I ~know~!) Turns out that Sam, the very helpful guy at the park, meant it was 26 miles from the last turn at Rt. 29, so I was unprepared for the additional 54 or so miles that I put on the bike before that turn.
Every night I empty the gas can into the tank, so I don't have gas in the room with me, so everything I had was in the tank already. I *might* have made it the 34 miles to Mitchell for the next gas station, but I would have made the ride waiting for the *chug* and it was too cold to thumb a ride to a gas station. I was able to get gas at the park from the maintenance shed. (don't ask)
It was cold and windy the whole way to the park, but the display and video were worth it and they gave me a chance to warm up. Sam was adorable and, even though I was the only one in the room, gave a full out, very skillful introduction to the park and video. He said he always welcomes people 'to the middle of nowhere, Nebraska' and he was right on the money.
After putting a bit of gas in the tank I had a relatively stress-free 34 mile ride to Mitchell, where I filled the tank and the gas can, my favorite new bike accessory, and headed to Scott's Bluff National Monument. The wind was incredible and I rode rather sideways most of the morning. Ride the bike, ride the bike, ride the bike...
Another shop announced that it was 71 degrees at 1145 am. While the clouds were threatening, I didn't think I was going to get hit. Still, I started evaluating underpasses...
I made it to Scott's Bluff still dry and it wasn't as far out of civilization as many of the parks have been.
Scott's Bluff also had a media presentation. A slide show that I almost asked to watch again as so many of the comments about the Oregon Trail reminded me of the trip I was on: When the emmigrants started, they brought too much stuff and ended up leaving it on the path. They sent notes to others telling them to leave the 'cumbersome' items behind. One letter said it would be best to obtain what was needed on the way since the journey was so long. The animals dragging all this stuff West were dying on the way. They included a quote that one could 'navigate solely by the nose' for the dead animals along the trail. Not much has changed. Well, except that I *am* doing more than 15 miles a day.
From Scott's Bluff I headed East toward Iowa. The sky cleared long enough to put a sedate smile on my face, but within an hour it clouded up again.
I made two stops to stretch and wake up, as, clearly, 4 hours was not enough, and also ran into a convenient Walmart to stand, entirely out of my element, in the toy aisle checking for Zhu Zhu's again. I also stopped to check these guys out. I wondered how the brown one would get back inside the fence...
I crossed into Central Time, losing another hour, and was moving East as the sun moved West making this a shorter ride day than most. A little exit community conveyed that it was 730 pm and 68 degrees. I wondered which of the towns I'd passed reached their record lows today.
I stopped for a breakfast dinner at exit 300 to make my hotel calls. I rode a very cold 30 minutes after dark to stay at the Rainbow Hotel. Hopefully, tomorrow I will make good time to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. Oh, and I filled the tank AND the gas can..
I've been entertaining the idea of racing up to Maine before home to finish off the Master Tourer Silver's four corner states, but I really should get home and give myself time to shower and change before work on Thursday, so I think not this trip, but now the planning begins!