The Cowboy Trail For The Win

Since we were pointed east we planned a side trip to see our friend Win in Valentine, Nebraska. We had wanted to see her and couldn’t get this close and not stop by to give her some hugs, love and support. Once we got settled she came over to the bus. What a great reunion! I think she was actually happy to see us – ha!

We went on a drive around the Sand Hills area of Nebraska. Valentine is about nine miles from South Dakota. It is rugged and beautiful here and they get some extreme high plains weather too, as we found out the first night.

Win is an encyclopedia of knowledge about the area, its flora and fauna and we went through the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge where we saw buffalo and elk in the rolling terrain that changed from prairie grassland to river valleys and high overlooks.

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Part of what we love about traveling in the bus is that people are always willing and eager to show us their corner of the world. The benefits of this are huge; we get an up-close and personal tour and explanation of the very best things to see and do. Win knew all about the edible plants, the wildlife, the surrounding area and the terrain. It also turns out she is something of a storm chaser too. She said they can often see lightening from Pierre, South Dakota, 60 miles away. The plains go on for miles. She showed us a picture on her phone of a tornado forming. Yikes!

After our tour, we had an early dinner with Win and retired for the evening

Once we got back to the bus we got a text from Win warning us of 60 MPH winds and three inch hail. We had seen the weather and taken down all the awnings and closed the inside shades. There’s not a whole lot you can do except keep your face away from the glass. That was hard to do because outside it was ominous and beautiful. Since I am terrible about seeing/answering texts, Win actually drove back over to see if we wanted to shelter in her basement. We decided to stay with the bus. It looked like this when she left.
storm-pano
We did get a good downpour and hailstorm but it was more like quarter size, not three inch. No damage. Whew.

We spent a couple nights right next to The Cowboy Trail, a 263 mile rail trail from Valentine to Norfolk. We decided to ride from Valentine the first day, then move to ride another section. When we turned around back to Valentine after about 15 miles, the sky started changing. We made it back to the bus, got the bikes put away and it started pouring. Good timing! No hail this time.

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Panorama of the Cowboy Trail

The next day we said our goodbyes to Win after getting much needed haircuts at the salon downstairs in her building. Valentine’s main street is well populated, unlike many small towns we go through. Probably because the nearest Walmart is two and a half hours away. It was hard to leave.

We went down the road to Ainsworth where we had the city park to ourselves. The kitties liked that. It is also right on the Cowboy Trail and we got in more miles riding to Long Pine.

True to the Sand Hills, the trail surface was a little like riding in wet sand. We had more rain and that contributed too. With the headwind and the sand, we were glad to be back after about 26 miles.

Next we are off to South Dakota where we will wrap up some legal stuff since we are “residents” there. Get our will revised and signed…stuff like that.

And the will? No, you’re not in it. We plan on spending it all anyway.

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