Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just Ridin'

The weather was perfect for a High Plains bike ride.  This means that thunderstorms weren't threatening and that the winds were only about 30 mph.  Our goal today was to ride the bike and only stop when we felt so inclined.  Our trip plan was an 150 mile rectangle of 3 state roads and one federal highway starting and ending in Sidney, NE. Sidney is about 70 miles east of Wyoming and 10 miles north of Colorado. 

Old downtown

We rode south on 19 (NE)/113 (CO).  I took Duane's pic then we turned around and  

he took mine.

In the city of Sterling we turned west on 14.  This is probably the courthouse.

We stopped for lunch and fuel here since there were no towns on our route for the next 70 miles.

1/2 sized sculptures down the middle of the avenue

We learned several things as we rode along:  people lived

and still live in the middle of nowhere (yes that is a (prefab house way back there),

 rock outcroppings could pop up at any time,

deciduous trees meant water/water courses, evergreen trees like the ones below were planted for protection from wind and weather,

and no snowplowing is allowed from 7pm to 5am,

We rode through part of the Pawnee National Grassland.  The western section is an internationally known birding area.  A network of numbered forest service and county roads (code words for gravel) will take you within easy walking distance of almost all parts of the Grassland.

Our route took us through the (smaller) eastern section, which is a checkerboard of private land, State of Colorado ownership and the Central Plains Experimental Range. 

There were a couple of miles of these black areas.  We couldn't decide whether they were burned areas or cloud shadows.

As the cloud cover thickened, the air temperature lowered.  We stopped here to add more clothing.  

Inside we met a very nice and very informative lady who added to our store of knowledge we were acquiring on our trip.  While discussing the wind she said that most women in this area wear their hair short.  Long hair is a nuisance.  She also said that the south wind (which we were experiencing today) always brought the worst weather.  Hmmm.  I asked her about the name of the welcome center.  She said that it was named for the highest point in Nebraska, Panorama Point about 30 miles south east in thee corner of Ne, WY, and CO.  At 5,424'  she declared that it was higher than Denver.  The welcome center and the town of Kimball on the other side Route 30, are at 5,200+'. 

They knew Duane was coming.  He thinks that all spiders and snakes know him personally and make it their life's goal to bite him!

Snow gate at the center entrance ready to shut 71 southbound.

Residential section of Kimball.  In the middle of town we turned east for the last 30 miles of our trip and on tfederal highway 30.

I was thinking about the contrast of greens and realized that the dark green was the result of irrigation.  I was wondering about how that was accomplished since only a creek runs through this area.

Then we saw this sign.  Our little heads were fairly bursting with information!

Back at our starting point at the Cabela's campground, we had some more learning to do.  Not only is the Cabella's Outdoor World store here, but behind the campground is the Cabella's World Headquarters.  In front of the store is a spot listed in the Sidney places of interest--the National Pony Express Monument.  This monument is the only National Monument with a marker and flag to represent evry state the Pony Express Riders rode through.

In case you're wondering, they are l front to back Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and r back to front Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California to complete the east-west route.

Full-sized sculpture with wonderful detail.  The whip was blowing in the wind.

(William) Russell, (Alexander) Majors and (William) Waddell were owner/operators of the venture, formally named the Central Overland and California and Pikes Peak Express Company.

Across the Cabela's driveway from the Memorial was this lovely green space with a little gazebo overlooking a large pond and encircled by a sidewalk.

By the way, the nice lady at the welcome center was correct.  About 5pm we started getting severe weather warnings for thunderstorms with possible hail and tornadoes.  We hope our luck holds and that they all go around us or just go away.

No definite plans for tomorrow.  We'll just wing it.

Louise and Duane

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