Monday, March 7, 2011

Bathroom Talk with the Crypt Keeper

Monday, June 7th. We awoke in the firehouse quite well rested. There was no one around to thank for our stay, and no shower, so we packed up and hit the road. Thanks though Osage Fire Dept! Food options were a little scarce in town. The plan was to continue southeast on route 16 into South Dakota today and we knew there was a larger town, Newcastle, about 15 miles down the road.

It was a really nice day out and the biking went smoothly. We made it to Newcastle in good time and found a little diner on it's outskirts and popped in for a breakfast. Our waitress seemed a bit disheveled, coming back a few times to double check the order. When we got our food Josh had to ask a few times to get some syrup for his pancakes and I could tell he was clearly getting a bit pissed which is frankly no easy task. When pretty boy Josh stepped into the restroom I overheard the waitress talking about how one of her friends had just died the night before. I figured that was probably why she was so mixed up. Josh felt a bad for being upset. We left her a nice tip figuring there wasn't much more we could do for a stranger.

We biked into the heart of the metropolis known as Newcastle. We found a local grocer and replenished our stores. When we stepped back outside we were a pleasantly surprised to find two touring bikes next to our own! It was easy to locate the owners (hint- spandex). It was a father cycling with his 24 year old daughter.

Unlike ourselves these were true transcontinental-ers. They had started out on the west coast and had intention of making their way to Maine. We swapped stories and even discovered they were blogging their way across the country as well! We also learned of Nutella, which apparently is some sort of cyclist's holy grail. A chocolaty peanut butter like concoction I'm told! They let us try a bit, its was pretty good. After a while I felt we were perhaps holding the fellow cyclist up we let them get to their groceries and we hit the road! South Dakota bound we were! Only a few more miles until the border, but before then...

Milestone 14 of 35ish!

I wasn't completely sure why but I was really excited about South Dakota. Even back when I was doing my very scarce planning for the trip South Dakota had caught my eye. The south eastern edge of the state begins the Black Hills as their known. Two things about the Black Hills-

A- They're definitely hilly.
B- After reading some informative signs it turns out they're called the back hills because the dark foliage that exists there. From a distance they do indeed look blackish!Or at least so compared to all the green around..

Not long after seeing the Black Hills (you can see the beginning of them in mile 1400 photo above) we crossed into South Dakota. A land of Great Faces. Great Places. And a saddening lack of fireworks. Its wasn't long over the state border before I faced a whole new bike related issue. One of my freaking spokes broke off! I must admit, Josh and myself were a tad stumped. Can you ride on a broken spoke? What do we do?

Lucky for us, the father/daughter combo just so happened to be biking past us while we were pondering our predicament. The father took a look and gave us a diagnosis. Turns out you can bike on a wheel with a broken spoke it's just going to wobble a bit side to side and rub up against the brakes. The bigger concern is once a single spoke breaks the likelihood of more breaking increases and increases. Shit. I have the worst effing luck on Earth with this damn bike. I sometime wonder how we've made it this far with my bad luck and shocking lack of bike knowledge. We thanked the family and continued on our way.

The bike still traveled fine and after a few miles I really didn't even worry. We spent the next few hours biking through the hills. They weren't too bad as far as hills go. Regardless at this point I'm pretty damn conditioned for hills and frankly even got ahead of Josh a few times! That musta pissed him off though, cause when a bus got "a bit too close for comfort" Josh swerved out of the way, bumping me with his bike. Luckily, no one fell but I took the hint and let the pretty boy take his position back in the front of the pack.

We really weren't too far away from Mount Rushmore although I didn't think we would quite make it there today. When you cross into South Dakota the first town you come to is Custer, followed by Keystone a bit north. Mount Rushmore is right outside Keystone. There's also another lesser-known monument called Crazy Horse. It's pretty much the same thing as Rushmore but for the injuns. And also four times the size. I wasn't 100% sure where it was but after asking some locals (a terrible idea) it turned out we were almost there! Just a few miles up the road and we came across it. It's kinda hard to make out.

So when you compare you can see what they're going for. I think it's a pretty cool idea, but it's kinda unimpressive. Then again, Rushmore had government funding and I think Crazy Horse is just donations and some dude with a lot of dynamite and time on his hands. Maybe in 50 years when I come back it'll be a bit more impressive?

It was getting a bit dark and it was clear we wouldn't make it much further today. A few miles up the road we found a campground and decided to pull in and take a look. Right off the bat we saw the charge (18 dollars) and kinda said fuck that. But, we figured we'd scope it out, and they did have a bathroom which beats doing it like a bear in the woods. We met a few people while there and chatted them up. Very nice people, as people tend to be. They cooked us up some burgers which were spectacular. While we were hanging out talking this lady who must had been in her 70's came over to check out what was going on. Turns out shes a campground employee and was just ensuring we weren't causing any trouble. Because clearly four people sitting at a table is a problematic situation. Then again she was just doing her job. We hung around with our new friends for what must had been an hour or two. At about 10pm the Crypt Keeper came back over giving us a hard time about being in the campgrounds so late. She kept interrogating us!

"You have to pay if you stay here tonight"
"Were not."

"Are you going to sleep in the bathroom? Don't sleep in the bathroom."
"Lady, that bathroom smells SO BAD I would die well before I fell asleep in there."

Since clearly Skeletor wasn't going to give us a break, we said our thank you's and bid farewell to our new friends. On our way out of the campground the employee asked us where we planned on sleeping if not at the designated campgrounds (I think she was worried we'd sneak back in). I pointed across the street at the forest. She argued we couldn't camp there cause it wasn't a designated camp ground. Smirking like a true dick, I explained how it's a National Forest and I can camp where ever I damn well pleased. She was real pissed clearly. I would had been worried about her having a heart attack or something but I'm fairly sure she was already the living dead, so I think were in the clear.

So we walked into the woods a good 100 yards or so. It was pitch black which was problematic when it came to setting up camp. Josh held the flashlights for me while I set the tent up and I held it for him while he was hanging the food. I had a weird feeling though. I kept hearing a noise off to the left. A couple times I'd beam the lights off in that direction but it seemed to be pissing Josh off. Bout the third time I did it though I caught a glimpse of something. A pair of glowing eyes. I watch and followed them as they slow circled around us. Getting no closer. No further. Just slowly circling. Being well aware there are mountain lions in the region I kinda flipped out! Josh on the other hand... very unconcerned. He just felt it was a wolf or coyote and recommended we just get in the tent and forget it. I slept with the mag-light next to me just in case I needed to beat a puma off in the middle of the night.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 64.2
Total mileage- 1445.9