August 5 - Empty Lands at Last: Platte to Kennebec, SD

Today, we saw just two towns. And we spent most of the day going up and down hills like we haven't seen since MA (or WA). Shaine and I hit 47.1 mph down one (neither the longest, nor the steepest, but those are usually the ones we can fly on with the tandem). Good thing, too, because as we started up the other side (where Bikrutz was parked), the cable on the rear derailleur finally snapped at the shifter. It had been fraying all morning, and I knew it was just a matter of time, but there it was, after more than 3000 miles, it had lived its full life. Ah, another evening spent in bike maintenance.

How to describe the wide open spaces? Here's the best way I know: the only feasible way for us to get across them is to parallel I-90, on the "old" road. You know, the one you see from your window as you zip along at 80 mph, remembering what it was like before the Interstates, if you're old enough, or what it must have been like, to travel the Lincoln Highway, or the National Road, or Route 66, if you're not.

For the first 55 miles, we went up and down and across the Great Plains, seeing nothing and no one. For the last ten miles, I went down Old US 36, seeing nothing and no one, but knowing that a mile south, semis and motor homes and Caprices full of squabbling families (not yours or mine) were eagerly moving towards Sioux Falls or Rapid City or places further on. Reassuring, and a good safety net, here in the land of nothing and no one. Besides, in eastern Montana, we really will be totally lost.

But an amazing angel has agreed to fly into our Bikrutz for one night. Uncle Frog (better known as Craig, the husband of my sister) for reasons even he probably doesn't fully understand, is going to (a) fly to Billings from San Diego, (b) rent a car, (c) drive to Broadus (look at a map - in the SE corner of Montana, it's the only thing you'll see), (d) meet us there at 9:30 PM, (e) ride with us the next day to Miles City (how we'll get his car there is still a mystery), (f) drive to Billings (g) fly out, all in less than 48 hours. He's been reading our web pages, and found out he wouldn't get to take his annual vacation in the West, and became entwined in our quest for grandparents' past (he really liked Harry), and so I guess he wants to be a part of this, or at least be around for that part of this Bikrutz. Whatever. We're glad he's coming, even if for only one day. Now, do I have to do a Dramatis Persona on him?

In brief, he's fifty, owns Oceanside Photo and Telescope (the only place to go to really see the heavens in North County -, and is losing his business manager. He already works five days a week from 10 AM to 10 PM. This is a man seriously in need of a sabbatical, or better yet, someone to buy his store for what its really worth, so he can get on with his life. He's bearded (of course), balded, and looks a little like a white Kirby Puckett. And he's gotten into biking. More later, I guess.

This evening, the kids again fired, marshmallowed, and worked together, without a scream or whimper form any of them. Amazing. But, like the tail winds (which switch to northerlies tomorrow - we head west), all this may shift by the morning. And Cheryl. Her bruises, rash, and aches are worse today than yesterday. Even the hot tub at this KOA didn't fully cure her, although she did learn a lot about Sturgis, and the difference between Harleys and Hondas.

Miles: Al (Tandem&single) 65; Cheryl (Tandem&single) 52; Shaine (Tandem) 16; Ann (Tandem), 11.

Total Miles: 2130

**Next Day's Journal**

-Al Bikrutz