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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 23 - Rapid City to Wall - Grasshoppers and Wall Drugstore




It's supposed to be a tailwind...

But the flag at breakfast looks sidewind to me...

Should be an easy day...

Just 57 miles...

Rolling hills...

Piece of cake...


But by time I get to luggage load I'm last in line...



Late start again...






Biking out of Rapid City...

all these small towns start to look the same...

But Rapid City has something unique...

My friend saw Richard Nixon sitting under a tree...



I see FDR...

...gripping a podium to hold himself up despite the weakness induced by polio...

to show strength to the nation in a dark hour...

Rapid City - close to Mt Rushmore - has set up statues celebrating our presidents all around the town...

How fun to wander the town visiting these sculptures...

But I have miles to go...






...and my legs still feel heavy....

The road out of town is long and flat...

railroads...




...and trailer parks...







I look everywhere for remnants of the prairie which once covered this area like a golden ocean...

I find a few grasses...


The tall grass prairie and bison are gone...

replaced by hay...










...and cattle.





Our road today is full of "rollers"...

These long rolling hills...

Some bikers enjoy them....

but I just groan with each uphill.





Beside the dips, I see these small pocket wetlands - I think they're called the prairie potholes...

So valuable to migrating birds and local wildlife, these small wetlands are at risk of losing protection because they are so small.

Out here we realize how precious a little pond of water can be...





We have a SAG stop at the Smallest Biker Bar in the World...





I think about buying a shirt....

but I don't.







Our other challenge of the day is the onslaught of grasshoppers...

Masses of these locusts spatter our legs, arms and faces...

I hear bikers struggle for words to describe the experience....



It's like popcorn...

Like Rice Krispies under my wheels...

Why do they all use food analogies?

I was more thinking of machine guns...

Look at this car's grill and think of my shins...







Okay, grasshoppers...

Rollers...

I'm getting tired and my feet hurt...






I stop in the shade of this church for a snack and foot rest...

New Jersey Mark stops by and sees me taking pictures of grasshoppers on the church siding...

He thinks I've gone crazy...










But we have a tough stretch ahead on the interstate and I welcome his help drafting me through the next 18 miles...

I spend an hour or so pedaling along watching the rhythmic motion of Italia moving with his pedal strokes....


We make it to Wall just in time for lunch...



My treat since he drafted me along the interstate when I was tired...



Dereka and John join us....

Dereka had a tough ride...

She got a flat on the interstate...




One of the strong riders - I won't name names - stopped to help and found out Dereka doesn't know how to change a flat.

This biker than berated Dereka for her lack of skills and even said Dereka shouldn't be on this trip.

Poor Dereka was in tears..

There was an apology later, but there's no reason when we're all hot and tired to make things worse for anyone - especially someone as sweet as Dereka.





Well, nice lunch and on to the famous Wall Drug store...

We've been seeing signs for Wall Drugs for the last thousand miles...

What's all the fuss about?











We get our first clue when we see Entrance Number 4...?












This place is huge!









And supremely tacky...







They have a fudge shop....







...and a chapel.











They sell everything from stuffed jackalopes








...to cowboy hats....











...and books!



Marvelous bookstore!

Cowboy books...

and Indian books...

Prairie and pioneer...

If I had a car I would have bought a dozen or more and been perfectly happy to sit under a shade tree for a week reading about this area.





Some books should be required reading....










I buy Al a pair of moccasins...






Then back to the hotel to enjoy the sunset...





And dream of the day's ride...
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