Range Roaming – Nebraska 2013 – Days 17/18

Stuck in Lincoln waiting out record snow: May 1- May 2

Wednesday May 1, 2013

May 1.

The next big cold front has arrived. Old man winter will just not let go this year. The rain began overnight. At 7am, it is raining and in the 40s F. The radar and the forecast indicate that this is going to last all day, and the wind is going to pick up. Yep, I’m not going anywhere today.

I go down to the front desk, and they are happy to book me in for another night. I have another good conversation with the site manager – he had to come out and look at my bike when I arrived Monday afternoon. He thinks my tour is amazing and inspiring – he loves seeing ‘young’ people going out and achieving goals.

Then I head over to Walgreens to get photos printed out to send to Nigel and my parents. The weather is just plain nasty. I’m glad I’m not out riding today. I spend the afternoon getting caught up on letters and postcards, as well as composing a trip update for family and friends.

The evening news says the 25 mph winds are expected to increase, and the snow should start about 11 pm. They are expecting 4-6 inches in Lincoln, more to the east and in Omaha. If it snows more than half an inch here, it will break a record. They rarely get any snow in May. Damn! How much shit weather is one supposed to have to endure on a bike tour?

May 2.

Yes, the wind howled last night. And the snow came down in big, fat flakes slanted sideways in the wind. When I looked out at midnight it had already covered the grass. At 7 am this morning it is still accumulated on the grass and side roads. Officially, they get 4 inches. The wind is still howling out of the north. Crap. Even if the snow melts, I’m not going anywhere with that crosswind and high temps in the 30s F.

So I go down and see if I can book another night. University graduation is this weekend, and I’m worried there won’t be a room. The front desk lady, who knows me well at this point, says she is booked out tonight, but she’ll see what she can do. She’s not going to send me out into the cold. The site manager says I can always come and stay with him and his wife, if they can’t come up with something at the motel. As so often happens, the people you meet on the road are incredibly kind and generous.

So I head off to see the International Quilt Museum and Study Centre on the UNL’s East Campus. I’ve always loved quilts – and before the arthritis in my fingers began to give me trouble, I’d always envisioned that quilting would be the hobby I took up in my old age. I still love looking at quilts, though, so I’m looking forward to this.

The quilt place is about a 20 minute walk from my motel. The wind is so, so cold and so, so strong. The snow is all just slush on the roads now, but this still would have been a really bad day for riding!

Once to the museum, I spend some time using the computers to look at different quilt styles in different countries over time. Then, I take the guided tour at 10am. Wow – there is so much to learn about quilts, the different influences on style in different periods, and the art of quilting itself. Some of the hand-stitched detail in the display quilts is mind-boggling. How could anyone see that in their head, translate that through their fingers and come out with such an exquisite and artistic result? Amazing stuff!

When I return from looking at quilts – looking at warm bedding on an extremely cold day is the perfect thing to do! – the front desk manager has found a way to let me keep my room. The Russian ballet members are staying here – she’s just forcing two of the girls to share a room. Wow! All for me. Plus, she gives me an even cheaper rate than I had before. I thank her over and over again.

Later, the site manager sits down with me and shows me all the photos of his older daughter’s research. She’s just finished her doctorate and is working on biophysical aspects of climate change. (He wanted to show me all the pictures of her experimental plots after he’d asked what I did and I’d told him about the research I’d just completed on farmers’ use of groundwater in the face of entitlement reductions and climate change.) Very cool stuff.

The staff here have gone out of their way for me – so I can definitely recommend the New Victorian Inn in Lincoln if you want something not too far from campus, but not nearly as expensive as the hotels right downtown.


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