July 6, 2015 – Overcast, 65 degrees
Miles Today: 69
Miles to Date: 3,719
States to Date: 17
Today marks the first day of month three of my cycling adventure, and everything was different! I woke up ten hours after I put my head on the pillow, in the exact same position I laid down – now that is sound sleep. I wasn’t ravenous, thanks to yesterday’s hearty china buffet. And the usual clear morning sky had turned to putty.
I pedaled through downtown Scottsbluff. I wasn’t hungry enough for a full breakfast, but I did savor their Deco movie palace. I crossed the swollen and muddy North Platte River to Gering where, hungry or not, I couldn’t resist the bakeries. I ate my first Grebel, a German fried cake with cinnamon sugar and allspice at The Mixing Bowl. Then I discovered the Gering Bakery, which was packed, and so enjoyed a Long John and chocolate milk. Stopping at bakeries may become my avocation.
I was fully fueled for the long climb out of the valley and the cycling was easy: cool weather, no sun, even a tailwind. The gloom obscured famous Chimney Rock, but it didn’t erase the many signs of the Oregon Trail, which passed through this valley. I pondered the people who travelled so long and hard fueled by hope and determination rather than pastry. We humans are an odd lot, part herd animal, part lone wolf, social yet solitary, clinging to our past yet always questing for more. The Oregon Trail is not a mere historical artifact. It’s another piece in the human continuum for expansion; predated by seafarers and followed by our conquest of space. The will to leave all behind and strike out for the new and better is elemental: there are more immigrants/refugees/wanderers/explorers on earth today than at any time in history.
Deep, diffuse thoughts burn cycle time, and I was in Kimball just after noon. I met with John Versay, the General Manager of the Western Nebraska Observer, local newspaper since 1885, to discuss small town news and tomorrow. He recommended the Java Blend for lunch; the stone fired pizza is excellent; worth the side trip from the Oregon Trail and even closer to I-80.
The last twenty miles of my trip was along old US 30, America’s central artery; Interstate 80 was a half-mile to my right, the main line of the Union Pacific 500 feet on my left. Long fright trains went by in each direction every half an hour or so, hauling cars, food, lumber, oil. My road was empty, not a soul lived within miles, and yet all this traffic kept whizzing by.
I got to Pine Bluffs, WY after four and had to stop at the huge Our Lady of Peace Shrine outside of town. I checked into the Gater Motel and enjoyed a quiet night.