I’m not sure if I ever slept in Auburn. My nylon sleeping bag was too gross and sticky to lie on, and my silk sleeping bag liner was too hot to crawl into, so I tried to just lay on top of the liner and not move too much. I texted my husband around 4:30 a.m.:
Operative word for today is “clammy”. Dew covering everything.
The inside of my tent “window” – the whole inside of the tent fly, actually – was dripping with condensation.
Pancakes for breakfast again, but this time it came with showmanship. The Pancake Man is a hoot, even at 5:30 b.c. (before coffee).
And she did!
(I’m so glad he didn’t choose me for this stunt!)
Fearful of the heat, I hit the road by 6 a.m. Got to the first SAG stop by 7:15 a.m. Funny how the bottle of hand sanitizer was always surrounded by cones. Not sure if that was a *hint, hint* to use it, or if people kept knocking it over.
We went through a little construction, but it wasn’t bad at all.
We got into Nebraska City, and I deviated a couple of blocks from the course to pick up another Nebraska Passport stop (it was closed, of course).
The route turned west down Central Avenue for our Nebraska City tour. Oh my! I like Nebraska City’s downtown. It’s hard to believe the population is just 7,265. There were a bunch of bikes in front of a cafe, but I pedaled on and stopped in front of this building: Central Apple Market.
I went inside. Oh my! The bakery case! I must have been the first cyclist to stop in that day, as a group of people gathered for morning coffee asked me lots of questions about the ride.
I got an apple fritter. I think it was the best one I’ve ever had. I chatted a bit with the guy behind the counter. He showed me the plaque on the history of the building that Nebraska City Main Street Historians had put together. Pretty neat!
Further down the block *cue heavenly music*: a public restroom! (I didn’t need it, but it was there if I did, assuming it was open.)
In a small plaza off Central, there was a lovely mural.
The mural plaza had a twist: a memorial chalkboard on which anyone could write.
There was also the first specimen I’d seen of a public art series featuring painted tree silhouettes. This one had insects in the design. (My husband is an entomologist, so I tend to notice these things.)
I passed Arbor Lodge, of J. Sterling Morton / Arbor Day fame. I love trees. I really do. Without their shade, life would be so much more unpleasant. Especially when changing a flat tire. (That wasn’t me in the background changing a flat – it was another BRAN cyclist.)
I kept a lookout for Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard. A fellow rider joked that I should take it easy on the alcohol at this time of day, but I wasn’t after the wine. I was after the passport stamp!
Aha! Found it!
The building opened a bit early because so many cyclists were knocking at the doors. The smaller squeeze bottles of apple juice were popular. I split a larger bottle of cherry-apple juice with two other cyclists. It was just enough for each of us to nearly fill a water bottle. They also had cherry and apple juice slushies! I totally would’ve gotten one, but the machines weren’t turned on yet.
I was interested to see the partnership between the orchard and University of Nebraska Extension.
Another example of the public art series.
Nebraska City is really into its trees and orchards. Interestingly, there used to be many more fruit orchards in the area. Our BRAN riders’ guide repeatedly mentions in the history of small towns we were passing through “the disastrous frost on Armistice Day, 1940,” which killed many, many orchards.
Randomly, on Highway 75 between Wyoming, Nebraska, (!!) and Union, Nebraska, was a gas station that knew we were coming. They set up a shade tent, were selling chilled pickles and chocolate milk from a cooler up front, giving out ladles of pickle juice for free, were very welcoming about us using their bathroom facilities, and even put up a sign asking truck drivers to keep a lookout. Wish I’d seen the sign and gotten a picture! Instead, I have a picture of my bike parked against some advertisement panels installed on a fence.
As we headed west through Cass County, we had a lot of rolling hills, just like we’d had most of the day.
Here’s the elevation profile for the day: up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, etc. I rather like rolling hills on a bike tour. Yes, you have to work harder on the uphill, but the downhill gives you a little rest, or at least a burst of speed.
Here’s a photo of the scenery that was behind me to my right when I took the rolling hills picture:
I made it to Weeping Water around 10:30 a.m. and immediately began sneezing. Something allergenic in the air! I had to take another allergy pill. We were camped at the Weeping Water Lakes Campground, directly adjacent to some train tracks. When I arrived, there was a train honking past, but luckily, that was the only train I saw.
Again, it was so, so hot, and my tent was baking in direct sunlight. I showered and tried to nap in the shade of a tree. I overheard someone talking about tent fans. A tent fan! Genius! They’d gotten one at a hardware store. I hitched a ride with a nice young man in a four-wheeler into the downtown and stepped into Meeske’s Hardware.
Oh my, Meeske’s Hardware! This is the kind of old-timey hardware store you hardly see anymore. You just never know what you are going to find in there. I asked about a battery-powered fan, and a woman who worked there said, “Oh, that would be in housewares. Come on, I’m headed there anyway.” And we marched smartly down the street to the housewares building.
The woman looked and asked to try to find a battery-powered fan for me. There had been a run on them, it seems. She headed upstairs to “the fan room” to look for more while a second woman poked around in the aisles. Triumphantly, the second woman pulled out from behind a display the LAST battery-powered fan in all of Weeping Water . . . and sold it to an older gent who had come in after me. She thought we were together. I cannot express my annoyance and disappointment at that moment. To keep from crying, I joked about listening for the fan in the tents, waiting until the fan purchaser fell asleep, and absconding with said fan.
Oh, MAN! Here was the temperature on the church sign across the street at that time:
I popped into the church’s activity hall to see if there was anything left of the “rice bowl” feed, which was supposed to have ended at 2 p.m. They were out of rice, but they still had lots of toppings. That was fine with me! I filled my bowl with black beans, corn, cheese, sour cream, and salsa, and added a homemade granola bar to my tray for dessert.
I held onto my ice-filled cup and found a bench in the shade to loiter upon while I sucked on the ice cubes. Just in front of me, a man maneuvered this vehicle into an angled parking space and popped into the auto parts store.
Once my ice was gone, I wandered down the street. The Lighthouse Youth Ministry, which would soon be hosting a chicken and noodle and mashed potato feed, had put out a symbolic welcome for us cyclists.
I popped into Memory Lane Museum (they had a bathroom!) – I didn’t realize until later that there were several other buildings within the museum complex. I just cracked up at their volunteer solicitation method. Clearly, they “need a hand”! Ha!!
In addition to old stuff, and a neat diorama of each block of downtown complete with pull-out boards listing the history of businesses in each building, the museum showcases a local’s “celebrity collection.” Wonder Woman (actually, Wonder Girl) caught my eye.
I wasn’t ready to head back to camp yet. I browsed around Grandpa Snazzy’s – a coffee shop / consignment gift shop / theater costume and props rental store (!!!) and chatted with some folks I knew from Scottsbluff. Then I loped across the street to the gas station to buy an orange juice.
I just happened to be leaving the gas station as they were setting up their beer tasting event at the edge of their parking lot in the shade of a neighboring building. I was one of their first customers. (Good craft beers!)
The craft beer tasting, which had been advertised in the BRAN ride guide, soon drew several more aficionados. Bread crates were pulled up to serve as seating, and a convivial evening was had by all.
I used the bathroom at the gas station before heading back to camp, where there were just four flush toilets and two portable toilets for our whole group. I tried to appreciate the cricket chirping under my tent as I attempted to sleep.
day 2 stats
2,499 feet of climb
11.2 mph avg
(weather data from Nebraska City)
low temp 69
high temp 93
avg humidity 41%
wind 7-13 g 17 NE
Copyright 2017 by Katie Bradshaw