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The Corn Palace

Last night after dinner, there was a rain shower, followed by a wonderful Rainbow, a good omen for the second half of our trip.

Rainbow over Chamberlain, South Dakota

Rainbow over Chamberlain, South Dakota

We left Chamberlain and the Missouri River Valley early this morning for Mitchell, South Dakota. In Mitchell is the “World Famous Corn Palace”. Another tourist mecca, that I don’t quite get, but, it seems to work for them as 500,000 tourists visit every year. Inside is all things corn, in every sense of the word. There is also a little Mister Corn statue across the street. On the way to Mitchell we passed, you guessed it, lots of fields of corn, as well as Wheat, Soybeans, and a few other crops. The one I photographed went on for at least a mile, maybe more. The ride today was lovely, 72 miles, very little climbing, nice weather and tailwinds. The other day I said I felt we had left the West, another way to verify that is the humidity, which in Idaho and Wyoming hovered between 10% and 20%, in Mitchell today, the humidity is 65%, feels like home to me.

alan

Cornfield-view #1-looking West

Cornfield-view #1-looking West

Cornfield-view #2-looking East

Cornfield-view #2-looking East

Street sign in Mitchell, South Dakota

Street sign in Mitchell, South Dakota

Welcome to Middle America

Welcome to Middle America

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

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Half Way There!

Half Way, WHOO HOO! 25 days, 1,890 miles, 67,000 feet of climbing! Astoria, Oregon seem like such a long time ago. Now on with the second half of the trip.

America by Bicycle; Half Way Point

America by Bicycle; Half Way Point

Today’s ride took us through the Missouri River Valley to Chamberlain. This is probably the last day with any serious climbing for a while, as the next 4 days of riding only have about 1,000 feet per day. Today however, we had climbing with more and stronger headwinds than yesterday! We pretty much rode the 84 miles into a 15 mile an hour wind from the South, which naturally, was where we were going. As one normally very upbeat rider said as we stopped for a quick bite, “this wind is taking away my will to ride!” but it didn’t. The thing about wind is unlike a hill, where you struggle, but can see the end, or at least know there is one, with WIND, it NEVER ENDS and it is relentless, and EVIL. Oh yeah, I fell, when my front wheel just glanced off the rear wheel of the person in front of me as we were meandering up a hill in the wind. Not serious, just a bloody elbow, knee, ankle, I kind of bounced on my hip, which took most of the fall. I finished the ride, and should be okay for tomorrow.  Luckily, because of the wind, we were only going about 10 miles an hour, so I kind of just landed, without the usual “slide” that causes the “road rash”. Tomorrow we head East again, 2 days until Sioux Falls, a day off, and best of all, a visit from Peg, can’t wait!

alan

The Missouri River from an overlook just South of Pierre

The Missouri River from an overlook just South of Pierre

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The Missouri from just north of Chamberlain

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Leaving the West

There are many opinions as to where the West begins, or in my case ends, but I think it happened today when we crossed the the Missouri. This is the river that Lewis and Clark used to go north (against the current) to find a passage to the Pacific. We entered into Central Time today, and the landscape and vegetation has begun to look a little less foreign over the last the few days. We also pass the halfway point of the trip tomorrow, as we follow the Missouri south to Chamberlain.

The ride today was a long, tough ride, 118 miles, a fair amount of climbing, a fairly strong headwind for about 90 miles, and as an extra bonus, we got a late start because our breakfast “chef” was having “issues”. Oh yeah, and because we crossed into Central Time, we lost an hour out of the day. We had an interesting run in with the local constabulary, because we were riding in the the roadway as the shoulders were real lousy for long stretches because of all the cracks and debris, HOWEVER, the truckers complained and we were warned to “Stay off the …. roadways!” or they would impound our bikes. By the end of the day, tempers cooled, and we all made it in. I learned up close how big Farm Equipment can be, while I was riding, probably about 85 miles into the trip, just focusing on the crappy shoulder, when I looked to my left, and am looking UP at the top of a tire on a tractor which is pulling not one, but two trailer-like contraptions for digging furrows and planting seeds. No sooner did this one go by, when another one descended upon me, these things are HUGE! All in all, a challenging but interesting day.

alan

Sunrise from Wall, South Dakota

Sunrise from Wall, South Dakota

Rock formations outside Wall, South Dakota

Rock formations outside Wall, South Dakota

More rock formations while leaving wall

More rock formations East of Wall

Hay bales

Hay bales

the terrain outside Pierre, South Dakota

the terrain outside Pierre, South Dakota

hills outside of Pierre

hills outside of Pierre

On the East bank of the Missouri River

On the East bank of the Missouri River

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Wall-Where the Famous Drugstore is

As we left Rapid City this morning, we began our descent our of the Black Hills, which we will complete tomorrow when we get to Pierre, which is on the Missouri River. We were once again back in farmland with our first sighting of crops, rather than grazing cattle, since we left Idaho.

Back into farmland

Back into farmland

hay bails in South Dakota

hay bails in South Dakota

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Agricultural small town America

It was a short day, so when we arrived, we went over to the “Famous Wall Drugstore”. Approximately 500,00 people a year visit this place. There are billboards for miles around on the back roads, as well as the Interstate. I don’t get it, it reminded me of a Disney production, something recreated to resemble what we think an old time drugstore should be, except that it all one big tourist attraction. Very long day tomorrow, with headwinds in the forecast.

alan

The "Famous" Wall Drug

The “Famous” Wall Drug

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Up Close with the Presidents

We left Hot Springs for Rapid City, with the hope of seeing free range animals in Wind Cave National Park, and 2 “mountain sculptures”. We weren’t disappointed. As we made our way through Wind Cave-where all the animals are free range, we first saw Prairie Dogs poking out of the ground, then disappearing just as quickly. But the BIG moment came when one of the Buffalo approached and then crossed the road quite close to us-these are BIG BOYS!

free range buffalo in Wind Cave National Park

free range buffalo in Wind Cave National Park

These guys are BIG, in Wind Cave National Park

These guys are BIG, Wind Cave National Park

As we kept climbing, we started the day at around 3,250 feet, and climbed as high as 5,750 feet-the last time we will see that altitude, the scent in the air changed from Sweet Clover-which smells just like honey, to Evergreen, as we were back in mountainous terrain with huge rock outcroppings.

the Black Hills of South Dakota

the Black Hills of South Dakota

We rode past the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is still being worked on, that long horizontal will eventually be his arm pointing West. And finally, after LOTS of short, STEEP climbs then descents, got to mount Rushmore. It is a pretty amazing place, as the faces just seem to appear from nowhere. There is a small but vocal group on the trip who think it is all pretty silly. I liked it, it kind of reminded me of the Tidal Basin area of Washington DC, one of our family’s favorite places to walk. We finally have a relatively easy day tomorrow, 58 miles, not TOO Much climbing, and a late start so we can sleep in  little bit.

alan

Not yet finished Crazy Horse Memorial

Not yet finished Crazy Horse Memorial

the road to Mount Rushmore

the road to Mount Rushmore

First view of Mount Rushmore

First view of Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Me, and the gang of four

Me, and the gang of four

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

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South Dakota

Today we left Wyoming and entered South Dakota. We stayed in this little motel last night called The Covered Wagon Inn, very “western” in it’s decor.

our last hotel in Wyoming

our last hotel in Wyoming, at Sunrise

We passed some interesting rock formations early on, before we settled back into flat prairie. Once in South Dakota we had 2 serious climbs, one of 4 miles in duration, one of 1 mile. I was still recovering from yesterday’s heat, but rode okay, being stubborn truly is my best attribute. We encountered some serious head winds coming into Hot Springs, South Dakota, which made me really appreciate the tail winds we had earlier in the trip. Tomorrow we ride to Mount Rushmore, should be pretty cool!

We were talking at Rap, the evening recap of toady’s journey and discussion of tomorrow’s route, about why we are doing this ride, as we are in a tough, hot, stretch, with lots of aches and pains. I am re-reading “On the Road” by Kerouac-but this time out West, and here is a quote that explains it better than I could. “I preferred reading the American landscape as we went along. Every bump, rise, and stretch in it mystified my longing.” Imagine how I feel doing it with only my legs and heart powering me along!

alan

rock formations in Eastern Wyoming

rock formations in Eastern Wyoming

Eastern Wyoming

Eastern Wyoming

view from the last SAG stop in Wyoming

view from the last SAG stop in Wyoming

Welcome to South Dakota

Welcome to South Dakota, view after the 4 mile climb

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Middle of Nowhere

If we were miles from anywhere the other day, we are literally in the middle of nowhere tonight, we are staying in the county seat-population 1,500, of the least populated county of the least populated state, no wonder we hardly see anybody. We spent July Fourth in Casper, doing some shopping during the day, then attending a Minor League Baseball game of the Casper Cutthroats, them watching fireworks.

Casper Cutthroats, July 4th

Casper Cutthroats, July 4th

We left Casper this morning knowing it was a long day, 106 miles, and it would be HOT! The temperature when we got into Lusk was 99 degrees, with a humidity of 10%, boy were they right. The ride was pleasant, except for the heat, including another stint on the Interstate. I managed to finish, a lot of the riders didn’t, but not with too much left in the tank. It is hard for me to describe the vastness of space out here, or how far it seems to the horizon. So I tried something to help you grasp that, I stopped at a rest area on the Interstate, took a photo looking North, then turned 180 degrees, and took one looking South. Hope this helps visualize the what I’ve been riding through.

View #1-looking North

View #1-looking North

View #2-looking South

View #2-looking South

After meandering through Oregon and Idaho, we have virtually ridden a straight line across Wyoming, chewing off big chunks as we went (2-100+ mile days). Tomorrow we leave Wyoming for South Dakota, another state I’ve never been to.

alan

Riding on the Interstate-I 25

Riding on the Interstate-I 25

view from the road

view from the road, Wyoming

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Day Off #2

So nice to have a day off, rest the mind and the body. Before I reflect back on this amazing week, just thought that I would once again speak of the good that our fund raising has done.  Th money we’ve raised for Citymeals-on-Wheels will provide over nutritious 750 meals for the home-bound elderly living in all 5 boroughs of New York City. Included in that are people without family who rely solely on Citymeals to provide sustenance and human contact. We’ve done good, thank you.

So I am over a third into my journey, having ridden about 1,350 miles and climbed just under 50,000 feet. I feel great, and my bike is doing great, only one flat so far, and that was yesterday. The route until now has been really interesting as the country has unfolded before us, revealing diversity in terrain, climate, vegetation, and people, truly an experience of learning and discovery. This past week we have climbed through Rockie Mountain Passes, had huge descents, seen incredible mountains, amazing waterfalls, 1,500 feet deep gorges, death defying bridges, and finished with almost 100 miles of nothing. As I have gotten to know the people I am riding with, I have come to realize that many of these people are, like me, having a once in a lifetime experience. But for many of us, this is their lifestyle, not always on a bicycle, but always off exploring something. I am always in awe of people who create their own path, and go down it.

Looking ahead we head into South Dakota on Sunday, visit Mount Rushmore, pass the half-way point, and end the week with Peg meeting me in Sioux Falls.

As we were setting up this web site, I decided to not allow comments, as I didn’t want the comments, then the comments about the comments to become overbearing. In hindsight however, I have not gotten much feedback or conversation with the people following me, which I would love. So if you are so inclined, my e-mail is alanbarnett11@aol.com, please feel free to communicate with me as I get my e-mails on a regular basis, looking forward to hearing from you.

alan

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Miles from Anywhere

The first time I thought about cycling cross country was probably 25 years ago when I read an article about 2 college guys who sort of said, “ride cross country, why not?”. Part of the article told about an incident in Montana where the weather was so hot, and there were NO trees or stores, therefore no way to escape the sun, so, in desperation, they climbed under an abandoned car for shade . Now I know what they experienced. We left Riverton fairly early as we had 120 miles to ride, and the forecast was for temperatures in the 90’s by early afternoon. Once on the road, we passed some interesting rock formations early on, then NOTHING! We did go through two so called towns, see the photo below, but nothing there. For almost 90 miles there were no houses, tress, water of any kind. After spending so much time in the Magic Valley of Idaho where water is so prevalent, this was quite a contrast, we didn’t cross one stream or river for those 90 miles. The high point of the day was seeing antelope along the road, and one actually was running to cross the road right in front of us, but then changed directions when he saw us.

alan

Rock formation on our way out of Riverton

Rock formation on our way out of Riverton

miles from anywhere-that's my shadow in the lower left

miles from anywhere-that’s my shadow in the lower left

one of the 2 "towns" between Riverton and Casper-check out the population

one of the 2 “towns” between Riverton and Casper-check out the population

"scenery" between Riverton and Casper

“scenery” between Riverton and Casper

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Many Colored Rocks

This my SECOND post today, as we had all kinds of internet issues in Dubois.Don’t miss the Teton post as the photos are great!

We stayed last night in Dubois, Wyoming, a town that still sees itself as a cowboy town, complete with Wild West style buildings, wood plank sidewalks, and a guy who plays Ragtime Piano outside the general store. It seems that The Sundance Kid actually owned a ranch here, before he decided to become an outlaw, and we know how that worked out, ending abruptly in Bolivia!

Ragtime Piano Player outside the "general Store" in Dubois

Ragtime Piano Player outside the “general Store” in Dubois

Dubois, Wyoming at sunrise

Dubois, Wyoming at sunrise

The ride to Riverton went through many different types of rock formation and terrain, from Striated Rocks to Red Rocks, back to Striated, then to Ranch land, Great ride, another beautiful day. We have started our slow descent from the Rockies,we started today’s ride at about 6,900 feet above sea level, and ended at about 5,000 feet, so it’s the payback for the climbing the last few days, making the 79 miles seem really easy by comparison. Wishing you all a pleasant and safe July Fourth. We will be spending it as a REST DAY in Caspar, Wyoming. Not sure what to expect, but I am sure it will be different than being in New Jersey.

alan

The ride out of Dubois

The ride out of Dubois

Canyon in early morning light

Canyon in early morning light

ranch in the canyon

ranch in the canyon

Red Rocks, note the 2 riders from on the left for scale of these rocks

Red Rocks, note the 2 riders on the left for scale of the rocks

Red Rocks reflecting the early morning sun

Red Rocks reflecting the early morning sun

another view of the Red Rocks

another view of the Red Rocks

view from the road to Riverton

view from the road to Riverton

View of striated rock, a layering of mostly shale and sandstone

View of striated rock, a layering of mostly shale and sandstone

Ranch Land outside Riverton, Wyoming

Ranch Land outside Riverton, Wyoming

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