The Prairie is so vast that I have to stop several times today to look in all 4 directions to each horizon to appreciate its beauty.
It goes on for ever…
Today we leave Bismarck after a well deserved rest day with lots of wonderful food provided by our host family. The trek out of the city is easy along well maintained bike path leading across the Missouri River due west.
Today we have a rarity…a wind from the East and cooler temperatures to add to a very pleasent ride of 70 miles.
From the River we climb to the Plains which start as the Western bluffs give way to an immense open expanse. I will see the Missouri River again but not for 4 days further North and West along the route Lewis and Clarke took more than 200 years ago.
Crops here have left the corn behind to endless fields of alfalfa, wheat, and sunflowers not yet in bloom.
Towns are few and far between with none more than 1000 in population. Farmhouses dot the countryside with signs of time past along the trip.
Our greatest challenge of the day are the roads…no shoulders and rumple strips everywhere.
At one point we are forced to ride on an Interstate for 14 miles since our regular roads have turned to dirt and gravel.
After 70 miles we arrive at Hebron which comes up out of nowhere…a water tower visible 6 miles before we get to town.
The folk have offered us use of their community center for the nights stay to protect us from the Prairie Storms. In addition they allow us to shower at the pool next door, freezing cold but cleansing none the less. I am famished and 5 of us wander into downtown, 100 yards away across the railroad tracks. At the only Cafe I order 2 large pork chops which come with coleslaw, a potato of my choice, and 2 rolls …for $4.90.
I am so stuffed after that meal that I come back to the center and sleep soundly for an hour before I get up to do my daily chores.
On the way back from the Cafe I came across an ice cream truck selling goodies to local children.
The owner , a woman in her 50s, travels to a different small town each day of the week, usually 30-40 miles from her home. This is the ice cream shop for 3600 square miles…
The mother of these three beautiful girls
who had been swimming at the pool, tells me it will be a short summer here so they are making “ the most of it”. The last snow was the third week of April and the first of the new year is usually early September…I’m not sure if and when Spring and Fall happen here.
After my nap I collect my sun dried clothes from a bench near the pool and wonder that it is empty at 5:30 PM…all the children have gone home?
I see a local passerby and ask about this…
” Well, the pool doesn’t open til 1 and closes at 5. Kids help at home in the morning and then 5 is close to dinner family time so the pool shuts down for the day”, and on he goes home for his own family time.
I think back to this morning looking across the Plains wondering how anyone could survive out here so alone.
I look across the pool
to see a steeple in this town of less than 1000 and feel an awe at the values that these hardy people live and thrive by.
Deep Seated Values
and a common sense of what is Proper in life…
These survivors are the fruit of those who had the courage’s to make the first trips West.
The fruit has fallen not far from the tree.