“Where ya off to fellas? Those have been the words that we’ve either said, or been asked, in the last several days. Their answer has typically one of two options. They are either on their way to Sturgis, or on their way from Sturgis and back home to Arkansas, Canada, East Coast, Iowa, etc. This morning was a typical morning. In the breakfast room, we met 2 brothers and a friend from Central Iowa on their way home from Sturgis. We struck up the regular conversation and they soon became more interested in where we were going (Denver) and of course the Backpack Program. They were all very familiar with it. We visited for quite some time until they decided it was time to get ready for their ride. We said our farewells and as they walked away and we sat down with some other gentlemen from Arkansas. They were on their way to Sturgis (the other answer). We talked about what the rally was like, and of course ended up talking about the backpack program and our trip. One of the gentlemen was very familiar and shared that his church participates. We visited for a while longer and then it was time for us to make our final preparations to hit the road ourselves.
We walked back to our room and when we were almost there, one by one, Hugh, Kevin, and Kenneth (from Central Iowa) each handed us a generous donation, with one directive. “Feed those kids!”. What a great example this was of telling a story and seeing immediate impact on the listener that moves them to compassion, kindness, and generosity. As they fired up their Harley’s, we heard…”When you get there, say Hi to my daughter”. “When you get there, say Hi to my niece”. And with the Brrrrrrraaaapppp of the 3 Harley’s, they were off.
We started peddling West on Hwy 44, looking for our left turn (South) on Hwy 53. It was a cool and beautiful morning for riding and just letting the thoughts kick in. As we were heading South, we were escorted part of the way by some horses that were pastured right beside the highway. They ran beside us to the end of their pasture, and when they got there, they all lined up to watch us ride off. So cool!
I started to think how often we’re hearing “When you get there.” For our Sturgis friends above, “there” was Denver. For our trip today, our first “When you get there” was the first turn at Hwy 53. Then 289th street…When you get there, go South on 303rd Ave. And, so on throughout the day until the last “there” for the day was Valentine, NE (pop: 2760), just South of the South Dakota / Nebraska border. We had plenty of time to think today as we spent over 20 miles of the 76.3 mile ride on gravel, and then sandy roads. The simple want for this portion of the ride was pavement, and as soon as possible. And when we get there…it’ll be smooth sailing. I surely had my theme for the day, so now I’m wondering…where are you going, and what are you going to do when you get there? Have you arrived at your “there”? Is it still out there somewhere? For us, symbolically on this ride, but in general as we go about our lives, “When we get there” has come to mean that there is some kind of experience to have and then it’s off to somewhere else, something else to explore, and of course, contentment in wherever your “there” happens to be at the moment.
Our mid-morning snack (which actually happened around noon) was in a deserted US Post office and General Store in Keyapaha, SD. I finally got my opportunity to get my fix by exploring some “ruins”. It was fun, and a little eerie to see the caving floor and roof, and imagine what may have, at one time, been in the “Dairy Goods” fridge that was now laying on it’s side, halfway through the floor and partially in the basement. There was nothing, and no one, in the freezer…I checked. At this point, we were sure that the dirt roads would end soon (it had already been 5 miles). We later came to find out that from that point, we had another 16 miles of consistently worse dirt and sand road still ahead.
With the extra energy required to peddle the dirt and sand road, we were extra hungry, so we stopped on the South Dakota / Nebraska border at the Rosebud Casino. As we were sitting outside munching through our food, we were advised by one of the staff that we were traveling one of the 3 most dangerous highways in the US. He wasn’t sure what the other 2 were, but gave only the reasons that the highway (83) went from Mexico to Canada, and had a lot of “killers” on it. We didn’t ask any more questions, because after the above cross-country ride, there was no way we were going to try and find an alternate route anyway. Needless to say, that last 9 miles of the ride went very well, and comparatively fast. Michael has not stopped talking about our dinner at the Peppermill tonight, it really was amazing…should you ever find yourself in Valentine, NE, you must dine there and don’t forget to try the Reese’s cake!
We’re once again, grateful for every experience that the day brought. Nebraska will be our home for the next 6 days of the trip. Next Stop…Thedford, NB.