A short note for today - long ride, short evening, even though we got an extra hour. Another day paralleling I-90, on the old US 16. I offer herewith a few vignettes suggested by Cheryl and Cody.
First, crickets/grasshoppers. To begin with, there have been a few constants on this trip. One has been crickets chirping at the side of the road. Ever since Ohio, we've heard them, unceasing, seeking love in the grass. But now, west of the Missouri, on the Dakota grasslands, they been joined by GRASSHOPPERS. These guys really want to get somewhere - on our legs, on the bikes (they make a great "ping" hitting the spokes), and on the RV. Cody reports that they will jump up on the window and stare at him whenever he stops the truck. The wipers don't phase them. And they make a great yellow mess when splattered on the glass at 60 mph (anybody seen the start of "Men in Black?).
South Dakota is a friendly place - 600,000 people in the whole place, most of them east of the river. So out here, everyone recognizes each other. I've gotten into the habit of waving at all oncoming vehicles. On my bike, I can't adopt the high plains laid back acknowledgement, which comes in two forms. First, for those with windows shut and both hands on the wheel (these go together, and are usually middle-age ladies), the right hand goes up, heel of palm still steering. Second, for those in pick-ups without AC/windows open - they've got the left arm draped out the window, and the right draped over the steering wheel, Either hand flies up, from horizontal to vertical. I usually lift my right hand up and give it a two-fingered wave forward - from vertical down to horizontal. It seems to work; even guys in threshers wave back.
Along with waving, people are constantly trying to make sure we're comfortable. We often park at the side of the road, in a turn-out, or at the entrance to a field. Invariably, someone - local citizen or farmer - will stop by, and suggest some place nicer for us to go. In one instance, we've been offered the grassy plot in front of a farmer's house; in another, the little park we passed up a mile back. If this were the city, I'd think it was a very polite way of finding out if we meant harm, or to get us to move on. But these people seem to be really looking out for us. I guess out here, especially in the winter, no one can get by unless they all help each other.
Used to be that farmers would mow hay, collect it in rectangular bundles, then store in a barn for winter. Now, some new machine puts in into a 6' by 8' cylinder. From a distance, these look exactly like something you'd find on the bottom of a rabbit cage. Whether it's the food pellets, or droppings, I can't remember. But Annie has a new description: from a distance, they look exactly like Buffalo grazing (a family icon).
Other states (especially Iowa) have great signage for their roads. In SD, none of the roads we're traveling are well signed, but they've got something far more practical. At "major" intersections in the country, arrows with family names and distance to homestead in nailed to a corner post.
We figured out how to make cattle stampede. Used to be, they'd just stand and stare at us as we pass ( I know, that's all they ever do anyway, sort of like "teaching" a tired dog to lie down). Today, I tried barking at them; who knows why - it was a long, lonely ride today. Well, they took off in a bunch at a gallop. "Talk about herd mentality", Cheryl said. This kept us amused for about three or four groupings, then we discovered better things to do.
Like peeing at the side of the road. We used to look out for a bush or ditch, but out here, with cars going by about once every 20-30 minutes, it doesn't seem to matter. Cheryl got a big kick out of mooning Shaine.
Finally, motorcycles - the other bikers. There's that big rally in Sturgis this week, and half the Harleys in mid-America are either coming or going along I-90. But none on our little back road. Funny, 30% of the choppers are being pulled by a pick-up - seems they're too noisy and bumpy to actually ride. Anyway, all the bikers look alike. Bandaned head, Levi or black jacket, heavy-set male between 30 and 55, and VERY clean bike. Listening them talk in the RV parks the last two nights, though, they are just like you and me - all have to get back to the job, and are just playing at Marlon Brando. Like we're playing at gypsy bike tourist.
Miles: Al (Tandem&single) 85; Cheryl (Tandem&single) 39; Shaine (Tandem) 20; Ann (Tandem), 8.
Total Miles: 2215
**Next Day's Journal**