Beginning of the Long Weekend

As I pushed on, my legs got more and more fatigued.  Each morning it gets harder to wake them up and for the soreness to abide.  That morning was especially hard since I got very little sleep and it was damp and cold.  After spending every day in the sun, simply walking indoors with the A/C set at 70 degrees chills me.  It is time for another break, a real break.  I have ridden 920 miles and at 1000 I will take a three day weekend, but where?

The gas station opened at 7 AM, but the Ashfall Fossil Beds did not open until 9 and it was only 10 miles away.  So I took my time getting around.  When my clothes are wet or funky I strap them down to the rear rack.  The hammock and mosquito net were both dry enough to pack away in the saddle bags.  I grabbed a muffin for breakfast and an extra for after seeing the fossil beds.  

The ride to Ashfall was slow.  My legs were stiff, sore, and tired.  It took me an hour to do the 10 miles and it drizzled off an on.  If I was fresh it would have been a great day to ride.  Temperature was in the 60’s and the wind minimal.  When I turned North I started to see a slight change in the terrain.  The previous day had been mostly flat, with a couple long slow hills.  The hills started rolling more.  My photos don’t do justice.  Ashfall was located on the top of a large hill and from there you could see miles of untouched land.  I couldn’t help but to think of my Japanese guys and what they would think of all of that openness.  

I arrived just before 9 and the gate was closed.  I at first thought I may have read the hours wrong and felt a slight panic of having ridden those miles only to go back.  It then dawned on me that I could ride around the gate and go see the fossil beds without supervision.  Before I had time to saddle up, a car pulled in behind me and the girl got out and unlocked the gate and went through.  After checking in, I had a self-guided tour.  I was the only one there and I wondered how many people visited this treasure in the middle of nowhere.  

Giant turtles roamed North America when it was a tropical forrest

Rhinos and camels also lived in North America

Rhinos and Horses

The plan was to leave there and ride to the highway 275 junction and turn south to Clearwater.  This would keep me busy and give me the mileage for the day.  I was just too tired to make that happen, so I backetracked a few miles to take highway 14 straight south to Neligh.  Back in Royal I stopped to pet a buffalo.  He kept purring and snorting and pawing at the ground.  I think he was happy to see me.

Neligh turned out to be a wonderful decision.  The map showed a Godfather’s Pizza in Neligh and described them as specializing in deep, thick crusted pizza.  It did on say that it was gas station pizza.  My second, and better option was Mamas’ & Nanas’.

Mamas’ & Nanas’ was a small diner open for breakfast and lunch only.  They closed at 2 and I barely snuck in on time.  I had fries and waffles, both made from scratch.  Before people start yelling at me, yes, I know that waffles contain eggs.  These contained real butter too.  This tasted more like a pancake batter poured in a waffle maker.  If you do not know the difference between a waffle and a pancake, look it up and have your life changed.  As I sat there plotting my next move I noticed they had a drive-in movie theatre.  It opened at 8 and showed two movies for $8.  And, one of the movies was the new Spider-Man!  I am not a huge superhero buff, but Spider-Man was always my favorite.  

There was a huge park just south of town.  I spent the afternoon there recharging everything, drying the clothes, and napping.  Since I have been in Nebraska I have been noticing these small chipmunk looking creatures scurrying away from the road.  There were two at the park that kept a close eye on what I was doing.  They were striped ground squirrels.  I have been trying to get a good photo, but they wouldn’t let me get close enough.  These cute creatures were my entertainment while I waited for dinner time.  I found two of their holes and they played with me while I tried getting a photo.
Rather than playing it safe and going back to Mamas’ & Nanas’, I opted for a steakhouse, but not a steakhouse.  The sign said steakhouse, but inside was a bar and mexican restaurant.  This was even better!  I was so excited to have chips and salsa and to finally get a good burrito.  Unfortunately, this was not the place for it.  My food curse struck again.  My veggie burrito came out and it looked like they took a bag of frozen veggetables, nuked them, and then put on a tortilla.  I had to request all of the extras that come with and then they tried charging me for them.  It was not until I pointed it out on the menu that they understood their mistake.  When I did not leave a tip, the guy exclaimed to his co-worker in Spanish.  I should have replied to his comment in Spanish, but that would have been too much.  

It was still early before the movie started so I found a quiet place to sit.  They call it the Rainbow Fountain.  It was designed after the one at Harvard University, or at least that is what the sign read.  The day before I would have taken a seat in the middle.  That day, I stared at it for over an hour before riding to the drive-in.  I was the first there and got to claim the best seat.  I started setting up my tent as everyone else set up their camps.  They came a lot more prepared than I did.  They had chairs, mats, pillows, blankets, pizza, and drinks.  I started talking with one couple that drove there from Norfolk.  The man had four daughters!  He was on a much different and scarier adventure, in my opinion.  The movie did not start until after 9.  I crawled into the tent and snuggled up with my covers.  On warm nights I will use just the down sheet.  Cooler than that and I will use the hammock as a sheet over the silk.  Colder than that and I get the sleeping bag out.  

After the movie and before the second started I decided to head out.  I did not bother asking if I could camp there.  I rode the mile down the road back to the large park and set up the tent in the show barn.  This was my first opportunity to use my new, 100 lumen, rear light!  In the morning, I would ride to Norfolk.

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