I slept so good with a storm raging outside that had cleared up before we went to downtown Pierre looking for historic buildings worth sharing their facades and possibly their history. The only thing we found was the Harvey Wollman statue, the 26th governor of SD that was in office only five months. He was born in Frankfort, SD while Caroline was born in Frankfurt, Germany. This statue is just one of the 28 celebrating all the former governors of the state.
fields an hour apart
sorghum or broom corn
We admired the Missouri River before stopping at Scooter’s for matching lattes, mine minus the extra shot, only to find out later that we’d been given steaming cups of milk in place of needed caffeine (whether now or later); hence why there are mixed emotions when trying a new place. We enjoy the cows placed in parts of the rolling hills and stop on the plateau of the view to watch the sun fight to shine through the clouds.
the bottom of South Dakota
We stop in Murdo and talk with the man giving detour directions around the construction area that got rained out last night during the lit-up storm. The lightning in this region is definitely the night sky’s best light painting influence. We learn that this man is from Louisiana and served in Alaska for 17 years before managing a co-op in White River, just 29 miles from here, for 25 years before retiring three years ago.
Giant goldenrod, Solidago gigantea, state flower of Nebraska
He suggests we read Engineer in High Heels by Edna Arend Witcher, about a mother of four who helped build Alaska’s Arctic Road in the 1970s. Then he tells Dad and I our best option for continuing on the 83 S is to backtrack east on the 90 for 20 miles, turn right on the 53, and make another right onto the 44. So many right turns has me wanting to go towards the construction we just avoided – good thing Dad’s driving.
This detour costs us an hour as we drive 35mph over a gravel road with potholes and deeper ribbed portions that keep us from going the posted 55mph after the paved portion which was only a third of the route. We watch two pheasants cross the road, one running while the other flies, one flapping its wings while the other glides. The sun is out with light blue skies as we cross into Nebraska before noon.
plants of Nebraska
The city of Valentine, properly located in Cherry County, has red street signs, hearts everywhere, and bike rentals (surprising for a population under 3,000) via the Heartland Bike Share next to the Cowboy Trail – a rail trail running east for 321 miles from Norfolk, NE to Chadron, NE, over half of which is developed. Following us is the older, more narrow, version of the 83 that can be seen in parts.
old Hwy 83
Where the 83 S and the 2 W meet, near Thedford, Dad gets the train engineer to honk as he raises his camera to get the oncoming shot. The a/c gets tired again and stops blowing cold air so we turn it off as we drive through N. Platte at 30mph and marinate in 92°F with the windows down. We make it to Selden, Kansas where the conversation and the landscape start to flatten out, a welcome change for both.
Dad taking in the view, digitally
Give anything enough time and you’ll notice a difference. It doesn’t take long for us to see the thick clouds brewing south of Oakley, with threats of tennis ball-size hail, moving east as the storm warning updates. Dad was going to take us northwest but we’ll sit under a semi diesel station pump while around us is barraged with heavy rain and pea-sized ice pellets. A second storm warning emerges as a truck driver nudges us out of his way.
food in various forms
Dad reverses out of the spot as the downpour recedes temporarily. As the rain gets heavier, the day gets longer, and I start to get hungry, tired, and anxious that these feelings will cause me to act out like they would have when I was younger. My calmness is rewarded with beautiful and frequent lightning that get us to dinner at Cattleman’s Cafe II at 9pm when both spouses call. For being rated the best in town, the restaurant was a disappointment.
signs in Kansas
the sky, falling and forming
Reinvigorated with carbs and broccoli we went for sugar and dairy at Freddy’s. This gives us the energy needed to check-in to our hotel, call our spouses back, talk about the large topless tattooed man standing outside our door that’s near the window at the end of the hall, and for me to brush my teeth to be in bed by 1130pm. At some point in the day we stopped for drinks, forgot water, and had to swat ten flies out of the car.