As we’ve traveled the heartland of America, we have heard that it’s been a dry summer and the farmers are anxious for rain…well, they got it today! It was raining yesterday afternoon when we pulled into Mitchell and was at it again as we pulled out this morning. This was our first opportunity to suit up with our rain gear and we were glad to have it…Virgil’s choice for a jacket with white on it may not have been the wisest but it did the trick and cleaned up great this afternoon.
Following Google maps (instead of Magellan Kolpack like we’re supposed to), we had a little bit of a ‘Naked and Afraid’ moment on the ride out of Mitchell. Difference was, we weren’t naked, or afraid, just ‘Lost’. As we were riding on the outskirts of town, without a description on Google or a “Pavement Ending” sign on the road, the pavement ended. We turned around and headed back into town to try again. This time…success! The rest of the ride from Mitchell to Chamberlain (our home for the next 2 nights as we enjoy our first rest day tomorrow) was literally down hill the entire way AND we had a fantastic tail wind. These two conditions combined got us to Chamberlain in just under 5 hours. Since we’re resting here for a day, it’s a great time to grab your bike and catch up with us for the rest of the ride!
We crossed Hwy 281 just outside of Plankinton, SD. For those of you who know my (Virgil’s) high school stomping grounds…it’s just North on Hwy 281 say, oh…a few hundred miles, in New Rockford, ND (Go Rockets!). Seemed like a little piece of home crossing that road. Our mid-morning stop today was in White Lake, SD where we met “Floyd and Edna”, shopkeepers originally from New Jersey. When I asked Edna how they ended up out here, she replied, “God…34 years ago. We ended up here on Easter Sunday”. Needless to say, having just completed the obligatory purchase of Cracker Jacks (that’ll be a dollar) I didn’t know for sure what to say except, “Great, I’m sure you’ve loved it here”. Floyd was kind enough to confirm (in writing – see below) what Magellan had originally charted for directions to Chamberlain. We smiled as we referred to both as we literally danced with I-90 most of the day either going over or under 4 or 5 times…90% of which was west (wind was from the east!). This was our longest stretch west, so we imagined seeing the majestic Rockies off in the distance.
Days like today made us even more grateful for this opportunity. We estimated that for each mile we ride we turn our crank-set about 500 times, making today’s journey total about 35,000 turns of the pedal. This has been a true honor to get out and raise awareness about the Backpack program. We’ve found many have heard of it and when we elaborate more we often get “Oh, ya I think they are doing that at our local grade school…what a great program”. It’s an interesting program because it’s administered very discretely, yet it has such wide-spread impact. Perfect!
Our friend, Joe Stadstad has been sending us daily inspiration via text. Today’s was a quote from Helen Keller and read: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart”. As we prepared to get on our bikes and ride through this beautiful heartland, we couldn’t help but think how grateful we are to be able to see and feel not only the soggy and muddy clothes and physical exertion that they day would bring, but also the inner gratitude for the opportunity that we have…many long for this opportunity. Thank you Helen and Joe for the wisdom!