Nebraska 2010 – Day 20

Wirth Brothers Lake, Tecumseh to Beatrice: A reminder of Nigel and Em’s 2000 roadtrip

Tuesday May 25, 2010, 50 miles (80 km) – Total so far: 825 miles (1,327 km)

I survived the night. In the morning, my chest is still tight, but once I use my inhaler things begin to loosen. I leave considerable bits of the contents of my lungs along the seven mile ride back into town, but by mid-morning my lungs will be fine. Hwy 50 is a different road at 8am today. There’s little traffic and there’s only a truck or two.

I make it to the gas station in 40 minutes and it’s a happening place. Two of the bogan guys from yesterday show up in their ‘better just leave it running’ car. They still look as sketchy today as they did yesterday. But they’re nice and say hello. A group of retirees stops and the guy who remains waiting in the car leans out the window and asks the where you from/going question. Then he asks the dreaded question: how many flats have you had? Damn. I say, ‘Zero, but if I get one today I’ll know it’s you who jinxed me!’. He laughs and tells me to be careful.

I head west out of town and I’m immediately glad I stopped yesterday when I did. There’s no shoulder in this section. I would’ve been weaving with the wind right in the travel lane. But today there’s no wind – it’s just a calm, humid overcast. There’s little traffic either. There are nice, long gentle climbs and flat, straight stuff. I’m enjoying it. The pavement is a grooved road base from Vesta to Hwy 4, but that means it should be nice and smooth soon. Just not today. A motorcyclist with a woman in the sidecar pulls up and slows beside me and asks where I’m going. ‘Colorado.’ He replies, ‘Wow – have a safe ride’, and then he accelerates and is gone. Those sketchy bogan guys then pass me a few minutes later, honking and waving as they go.

I pick up a nice shoulder at Hwy 4 and see a cyclist out for a day ride going the other direction. A motorcyclist passes and gives me the standard wave – two fingers pointed to the road. His friend, travelling about a half mile behind, gives the best motorcyclist wave of the trip. He pulls his hand from the bar and while his arm is moving downward at a 45 degree angle to the handlebar, he simultaneously extends his elbow and smoothly flicks his wrist so that his two fingers point to the ground. I want to know how long he stood in front of the mirror practicing that!

In Beatrice, I check out the local museum in the railroad depot and then go scouting for a place to camp. The town map I picked up at the museum is lacking detail and I end up in some very poor neighbourhoods looking for a park. I’ve not seen any signs for a tourist info centre. Maybe it was the museum. So I ride around downtown looking for something ‘civic’. I find the city auditorium and go in the door that has a ‘Main Street USA’ sign. I ask the lady inside if she would happen to have a map. The lady is gruff and directs me to the Chamber of Commerce. And so I get a tour of the Art Deco auditorium building as I wander around some hallways before finding the right door. They’re not unfriendly but they’re not used to tourists seeking maps, and it takes them a while to find me one. Very strange, indeed. What if I’d been an investor looking around town for a place to establish my business? I guess they just figure they’d have a GPS?

Once I get the map, I find the Chautauqua Park, but it’s a bust. The renovated camping area doesn’t really have tent spots, and the nearest toilets are so gross I would challenge anyone to be brave enough to go touch that flush button – even though that’s what they all desperately need done to them for a start. I follow the bike path to the other park, but it’s just as creepy, so I head out Hwy 77 to the ‘new’ part of town, which seems to already be going downhill, too. I find a cheap motel – which would have been a very nice and big Motel 6 in the past. Even though the room smells like a combination of maturity and crappy cleaning product, everything works, the shower drains, and it has a fridge and microwave. It reminds me of some of the motels Nigel and I stayed in when we did a 6-month road trip around Canada and America on the cheap. I go gather dinner and food for the next two days at the Walmart down the road. No pictures today – I was impressed with the potential of Beatrice when checking out websites during my pre-trip research – but in person, I wasn’t all that impressed.

Ave speed: 12.3mph

Max speed: 27

Leave a Reply