Since my phone died I lost all of my photos from the last few days. My last real post was in Hiawatha, KS. Since then, I crossed over to Nebraska, almost went into Missouri, almost went into Iowa, got a little heat sick, took a day off, and am now 250 miles down the road in Fremont, NE.
On Tuesday, I rode straight from Hiawatha to Brownville, NE. It rained for the first couple of hours, which made everything I was wearing sogggy. I tried throwing on the rainjacket, but it just got sticky inside from sweat. In Falls City I stopped to grab a sandwich to eat at the Indian Cave State Park. After leaving Falls City, Google took me on a gravel road tour. It was nice to be off the main road, but the wet gravel/sand was difficult to navigate. By this time the sun had popped out so I hung my jersey off the bike in an attempt to dry it and me.
Towards the end of the gravel road I came across these two fellas. One of them huffed at me and bowed his chest. I believe he was challenging me to a race. I was tired, but not about to back down. He took off and I took off. It was a short race and I lost by a long stretch. So, I yelled and goaded them into another race. This time I kept up for all of 3 pedal strokes before they were gone. When I reached them at the top of the stretch the winner was prancing around gloating. If you have seen the movie “American Flyer” with Kevin Costner, this was the scene with the cowboys on their horses, except without the cowboys. I had a great photo of the horses racing me and then an even better one of him prancing around.
The road leading into the park was paved and uphill. The park is located on the ridge that follows the Missouri River. Once at the top I could sit and eat. The park is named after a cave/overhang with drawings from the Native American locals. The same overhang was used by generations of people after the native population “left”. To get to the cave you must go through the entire park. It was about a 5 mile ride from the entrance down to the cave. This took me down a steep cliff to the river’s edge. The river was a better site than the cave. Too many people decided to leave their marks next to the marks of the past. At this point, I was getting tired. It was about 1 PM and I needed a break. On the map I saw that the RV camping had showers and laundry, so that was where I was headed.
The climb out of the river was a rough one. I walked most of it, and even walking was challenging. I have made a lot of wrong decisions on this trip. I really wanted to kick myself for this one. The map showed that there were two sections of RV camping. Each section was marked having a shower and laundry. Tired of climbing hills, I tried to pick the one with the easiest climb out. I chose wrong. Turns out the two shower facilities were just one. The route I took required me to carry the bike up a 100 ft stair case. If I had gone the other way I would have been at the top of the hill.
The shower was working and the water fountain had cold water. It’s a 50/50 for water fountains to be cold. I had exactly 75 cents of change to dry my rain soaked clothes, but not all quarters. I searched everywhere for a third quarter (now I have more change). I went down the row knocking on RV doors. The owner of the second RV was sweeping up outside. I told him what I was doing and he and his wife gave me a quarter. Turns out, there son does long rides and triathlons and such. I thanked them and went about my washing and drying. Oh, and the bike got a bath too. RV pump outs are great for bike washes. After my shower, Ken, the RV guy, came and talked to me. I left one of my cards that way they could let there son know I was heading his way, just in case he wanted to ride with me!
Shortly after, Jan, his wife, came up. She had found my blog and been reading. They were out park hopping in the RV and we compared routes and we may meet again up in Chadron. The chances of that increase the slower I go and the more days off I take. Before I left, Ken asked me what the heat does to me. I should have taken that as a sign to stay put. I had a little food in my bag and am sure I could have bummed around if needed. It was 3:00 and hot. I was 15 miles from Brownville, where my hotel was. Usually, this is doable. I had already ridden 47 miles that day, it was hot and humid, and my sandwich was all but gone.
I did alright riding down from the ridge, but the next few miles were probably the worst so far. I quickly went through my first bottle of water and mixed Gatorade packet in the second. The Gatorade was a big help. Did I mention it was really hot? The rolling hills seemed long and tall. With about 10 miles to go I checked my phone for directions and it was fryed and I was close to it. I started looking for a way out. I stuck my thumb out at trucks going by with no luck. Had I gotten Ken’s number I would have called him, but no phone. I kept going, but gave up on riding. My legs knew what to do, but I was getting dizzy and not riding straight. So I walked anything not down hill. Up the final hill to a T in the road and a sign that said 1 mile to Brownville. It was 1 mile of downhill, taking me down to the Missouri River.
From there, I followed the sign to the only eatery in town. After a glass of water and a glass of tea I was feeling a little better. The lady helping me was nice and patient. I took something from just about every dish they offered to make a dinner plate. The food did me a lot of good. My head was still swimming and my stomach upset, but I could talk. I ended up staying there for two hours before finding my hotel. The woman helping me was on summer break from teaching at a university. The other patron was also a professor at one of the universities. I must have felt better, because we talked a long time after I finished eating. I found this place by calling the hotel earlier in the day to ask about dinner options. I then called the restaurant for a menu. By noon, everybody in town was probably expecting to see me.
The hotel was an old riverboat converted into a hotel. The rooms were much nicer than I had intended. My boat could use some upgrades after seeing what they had done. The top deck was open with seating and football turf as flooring. The same turf was on all of the outdoor decks. The second deck was where the office, central lobby, and restaurant was located. The first deck was used for lodging. Once settled in I called home and tried to find the best way to get a new phone. The closest AT&T was in Maryville, MO, 47 miles away. If feeling well enough, I would pack the bike and head East in the morning.