The final destination on our fall trip was Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. We were fortunate to continue our streak of brilliant weather and to find some more great cycling. Not to mention a Mexican restaurant we enjoyed so much we ate dinner there twice. Mazatlan was conveniently located right across the road from our hotel. We were also a close walk to a school where we could throw Paisley's ball for her after dinner. Score!
Ride to eat.
From Barry's morning walks, he figured out how we could access urban bike trails to get to the MoPac Trail East, a rail-trail running along the historic Missouri Pacific Railroad line.
I thought this feathery foliage we rode by in town was so pretty but don't know what it is -- yet!
Eventually the trail turns to packed gravel and becomes quiet and peaceful -- just what we like.
Here's some of the varied scenery we saw on our ride. There were a few other folks riding, but not many, especially for a beautiful Sunday. They don't know what they're missing!
We didn't quite make it to the end of the trail because it went on a bit longer than we'd realized. Even though I was still feeling good, I ultimately decided we'd better turn around as it was already going to be my longest ride of the year (just over 50 miles) by the time we got back to our hotel. Of course Barry could have easily continued to the end, but he was kind enough to defer to me. Thanks hon!
Eat to ride.
I'm sure you knew I couldn't end this blog post without some photos of the terrific Mexican food I mentioned above. One thing I found especially unique about Mazatlan was the mushroom ceviche they brought out along with the usual chips and salsa. It tasted just like fish ceviche, with the usual flavors of fresh lime, onion, chile, and cilantro but mushrooms instead of fish made it vegan. What a smart idea! Plus I got to eat all of it since Barry doesn't particularly care for mushrooms. Excellente!
The restaurant also earned extra points for the frosty mugs they served with the beer.
The night before our big ride, I had veggie enchiladas, homemade pinto beans, and rice. The pinto beans were especially savory and delicious.
Barry got a chicken fajita burrito, black beans, and rice. Yummy as well!
The night after our ride, we had to return for one last meal. On this night, Barry got chicken fajitas, and I got a grande shrimp burrito. I couldn't believe how many delicious, tender, large shrimp were inside! We both saved enough to put in the cooler and eat for dinner the next night.
We splurged and indulged in desserts since it was the last night of our trip, and we had been very active. Yep, we deserved it!
This beautiful sunset closed out a wonderful trip!
Leaving South Dakota behind, our first brief (one night) stop in Nebraska was in the small town of Valentine. I had actually heard of this town only because when I was a girl, I mailed some valentine cards there in a large envelope to be hand-stamped. According to Wikipedia,
Valentine participates in an annual re-mailing program where thousands of pieces of mail flow into the local United States Post Office so that they can be re-mailed with a special Valentine's Day postmark and verse.
So, I was expecting a kind of cutesy Valentine-themed town, but there really wasn't much of that, at least in late September. Perhaps in February they really get the decorating thing going. There were red hearts painted on the main street's sidewalks, but that was about it. I had hoped for more.
Barry was interested in this town because the Cowboy Trail ends here. He had thought he might ride some of it on this trip, but he had heard that parts of it were in pretty poor condition after some flooding that occurred. And timing-wise, it just didn't work out. I'm sure it would have been a letdown after the fantastic rides he had on the Michelson Trail anyway. It was a bit neglected looking, to be honest. Looks like maintaining and promoting it just hasn't been a high priority lately.
This sign greeted visitors as they entered the town via the trail.
This stretch of the trail certainly looked rideable if a bit monotonous compared to other rail-trails we've been riding lately.
But the prairie flowers were pretty!
We had time to take Paisley on a little walk on the trail, but that was all. And a cold front was coming through overnight, bringing cloudy and much cooler temperatures the next day, so it was just as well that we were moving on in the morning.
We did get to witness a bit of a farm auction as we walked through town and see a couple of cowboys. If memory serves me, I think this was actually a woman.
And that's about all we did in Valentine. Our next stop, Lincoln, was a bit more up our alley, so stay tuned!
After all our great hiking and cycling adventures in the Black Hills of South Dakota, it was time to start making our way to Nebraska. Fortunately, there was plenty to see along the way.
Our first stop was Wall, South Dakota, the home of the famous Wall Drug Store. Barry had been here with his family many years ago but was willing to stop again so I could check it out. Wall Drug is a huge tourist attraction and according to Wikipedia draws two million visitors annually. Fortunately, outside the peak season (this was September 26th), very few of those two million were in evidence. We had no trouble finding a parking place nor walking around without bumping into people. We didn't spend a lot of time there; just long enough to snap a few photos and buy a refrigerator magnet. It was certainly touristy but still had its small-town charms.
I liked these murals painted on buildings in the downtown area.
We even made some new friends!
Our next stop was Badlands National Park, and we were so fortunate to be able to visit before the government shutdown closed the gates. Although we only had time to drive through and have a picnic lunch this time, we'd love to go back and hike someday. It was gorgeous! Photos don't do it justice, but you can get an idea of how dramatic it is, and perhaps soon it will be open once again.
It was very hard to concentrate on the road as we drove through this kind of scenery. I was glad Barry was doing the driving!
We had a nice picnic at the visitor information center.
The last three images are each comprised of three photos that Barry "stitched" together using his photo-processing software. They do a good job of illustrating some of the varied types of geologic formations in this park.
Stay tuned for Nebraska, coming up next!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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