Back into Nebraska: Torrington, WY to Gering, NE
Thursday July 11, 2013, 48 miles (77 km) – Total so far: 2,844 miles (4,577 km)
What to do when it’s 104F in Gering, Nebraska?
First, get on the road at first light while the puddles and humidity from last night’s thunderstorms still linger. Hit the state line, already sweating, just as the sun makes its way above the horizon.
Second, get the 45 miles out of the way to get to Scottsbluff by 8.30am. Find a fast-food breakfast. Consume most of your calories for the day now, before it gets too hot to want to eat. Note: the green chile breakfast burritos at Taco Johns aren’t too bad.
Third, find the bike path to Scottsbluff National Monument. Ride through some swanky golf course neighbourhoods to get to the path. Don’t build up too much speed on the path. It has huge, jarring cracks and a very rough surface. But there are several locals out using it – good stuff!
Fourth, go in the visitor’s centre. The exhibits are all from about 1960-something. But, there is a refrigerated water fountain! Drink, drink, drink! Drink some more! Refill the Camelback with COLD water!
Fifth, get a personal lift and tour from a ranger to the top of the bluff since bikes aren’t allowed on the road between 9am and 5pm. Doug is full of information. He informs you that the crops you passed on your way into Scottsbluff are all sorts of beans. The area grows five different types – and you just thought they were soybeans. He also tells you the whole history of the monument, including the CCC camps, and what to look for as you hike back down. He is from the Black Hills and tells you all the sad gossip about Sturgis and how the creator of the Crazy Horse Monument was a very dishonest crook but how his family has turned that all around and does very good things for the Sioux peoples.
Enjoy the hike back down. Looking east you can even see Chimney Rock, another Oregon Trail landmark. Enjoy looking at all of the rock layers – the volcanic ash layers are easy to pick out here.
Sixth, go for a short hike along the path through Mitchell Pass. This was the route of the Oregon Trail from the 1850s. Conclude your visit by 11 am since it’s already into the low 90s F.
Seventh, go work your bike tourer charm on the city RV park caretaker who at first says he has no sites because of the town festival but comes around and not only gives you a spot to pitch the tent but tells you to ask if you need anything, including a ride wherever you want to go.
Eighth, spend some time at McDonalds with a large iced tea and enough refills to give you kidney stones. Chat to a few people, including a woman in her 80s who thinks it’s absolutely wonderful that you are out touring. She says, “life is meant for adventure, keep living life like you are and you will have no regrets when you get to my age”. Invite her to sit with you so you can hear her stories – she’s got to have some great ones with that attitude. Sadly, she is already late getting to her friend’s home so can’t stay.
Next, head over to the the library to revise your ride route while sitting in air-conditioning. It’s forecast to be over 100 F in this area for the next week. You want to get back to higher elevations. Agate Fossil Beds are not going to happen this trip.
Ninth, go grab a big fountain drink and then hang in the shade and wind at the park for the rest of the afternoon and early evening.
Finally, end the day with a funnel cake from the fair at the property next door to the RV park. Reflect on what a great day it’s been and how much you love bike touring!