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Day 6
August 26th, 2014
KOA Campground
Near Badlands National Park

I was still in my sleeping bag when I heard it again-rain.  Drops falling through the trees and on the the rain fly, well what was left of it.  "you got to be kidding me, rain again?  Funny when a joker gets a hole in his tent, rains everyday."  I pulled out the Ipad, I had a wifi but like previous attempts in campgrounds it failed to work. I've come to the conclusion, these outdoor wifis seldom work.  None on this tour have.  It could be the distance, too many people on it, or cheap hardware. The Iphone backup had a 4G so I used it to get a radar look.  A isolated system was over me and stalled.  Riding south I'd pull out in a few miles.

The hole in the top of the tent was allowing water to seep in.  It landed on the floor and rolled down to soak my pad and bedding.  Not a good thing.  The therm a rest was flat, confirming it was leaking air, but I couldn't find where.  It didn't matter, this was the last night in the tent, next couple of nights I'm in a motel.  "Soon as I get home I'm gonna start shopping to replace the tent and pad."  I'd had both over 10 yeas so it was time anyway.

When I scrolled the web page south I could see a few storms in the Omaha area, my destination for the day.  "I'll worry about that when I get there, for now I gotta get moving."

It was going to be another late start for the day.  Plagued by morning rain almost everyday, I've been late out of the campgrounds, today would be no different.  

I packed the Eureka wet, and stuffed it in the right saddlebag.  The rigged pole was still holding out, just as long as it didn't have to do any heavy lifting, like a Kansas thunderstorm.  I had the feejer loaded in about 20 minutes, and I remembered to call Debbie before putting the Shoei on.  She was about to leave for the office, I could  hear the keys in her hand.

"Heading out and riding south, on the way home"

"oh hey, about to go out the door.  How'd ya sleep last night?

"OK, but my pad won't hold air, so after first 20 min I was on the ground, and then it rained again this morning"

"poor baby!"  I still haven't told her about Kansas, and how the Eureka was mortally wounded. It would just worry her. 

"well yeah, but anyways the rain has moved on north and I'm goin south"  I was fighting to talk over the wind.

"The wind is still blowing???"

"baby like I said, the wind is ALWAYS blowing out here, just some days worse than others, I better get on the road, its late"

"Ok things are good no rush to get back, just be safe."

"Don't worry, I'm good at this"

" I know that, but you're not as young as you use to be"

"Ok so I forgot my phone one time, that doesn't make me feeble yanno"

"I'm not sayin you are, I'm just saying its different now than it was 12 years ago."  That statement was correct, but I wasn't going to admit it.
With the clouds breaking up I went through the morning ritual of booting up the zumo, placing the phone on charge, and resetting the trip meters.  I love the way Yamaha springs to life, no "errr errr" on the spin up, just instant vroooom!

The bike's clock read almost 8am, "man this is a late start."  All I could do is play the hand.  The GPS took me back out to SR 44 where I went South back through Pine Ridge.  A stiff wind racked me from the West, pushing the bike left, flags and banners were blowing straight out. The reservation didn't look any better going out than it did coming in.

I came up behind a lady in a pickup truck with a couple of passengers.  I was almost on her when she suddenly put on brakes and pulled off.  I hit the brakes and cut left to go around.  I saw many roadside memorials on the reservation in memory of those killed in traffic accidents.  One spot had 4 markers.

Riding south I saw a bird trying to fly into the headwind.  He was having no luck.  No matter how hard he flapped he couldn't move, it looked like he was hovering.
A long uphill presented itself and the wind had shifted to mostly out of the south.  The wind and hill nade a strong combination, so much so even the powerful FJR noticed it.

SR 44 turned East 20 miles from the campground, and now I had a healthy tailwind.  I lost it in White River when the route turned back South on US 83.  I didn't see any traffic or people.  The atmosphere had a lonely tone to it, so I just kept riding.  The custom route I lined out in my study and downloaded to the GPS, seemed to be working well so far. 
The Rosebud Reservation not much different than Pine Ridge, so I left it for Nebraska.  One of the more prominent towns in the Sand Hills of Nebraska is Valentine.  I arrived in the mid morning looking for gas and a place to take my morning break.  I found both in a Shell truck stop with a McDonald's attached.  I gassed up with a tank of powerful 91 V power octane.  The FJR seemed to thank me.  When I finished I moved to the parking lot in front and went inside.

On the way to the restroom I found just what I was looking for in terms of Road Atlas.  By chance I spotted a atlas with the dimensions of a notebook.  Big enough to see, yet small in enough I could stick it inside the motofizz using the side zipper.  Easy to get to for quick reference.
I bought the usual drink and hash browns and studied my new atlas.  It was lunch time but I wasn't all that hungry.  My custom route will take me south of Omaha to a place called Big Lake.  "Not gonna get that far today, going for a motel in Omaha."  I got out my Ipad and answered a text my wife left me almost a hour ago.

" where a u?

"Valentine, Neb"

" there you are! what a romantic name!"

"I can assure ya nuttin romantic about it"

"where is that?"

"in the sand hills"

""they have hills in Nebraska?"

"Not really, but thats what they call this area"
" a package came for ya today at the office."  I send all my amazon stuff to her work.

'OK, just put it in my study"

" can I open it?"



"I don't open your stuff, it ain't nothing you'd be interested in LOL"

"well I can at least see what it is"  When it comes to female logic I gave up long ago.

"OK, OK, and then you can tell me what it is"

I took too long a break in Valentine, and when I got back on the road I had to refocus.  I was now on US 20 East.  For the third day in a row I had on the leather gloves.  They worked well in the conditions I found myself in.  

                       Making my way through the Sand Hills of Nebraska.

Kansas was prairie, Nebraska was corn; endless miles of it.

On a forgotten stretch of US 20 I found a old drive in.  The last customer was probably 20 years ago?  I stopped to check it out.  Tall grass had taken over the parking lot.  The ticket shack was still up, and so was the concession stand.  The screen was falling apart from the tireless prairie wind that constantly pulled on it.  The seat from a old swing set swayed in the wind.  I thought about the people who once came here on Friday and Saturday nights, as I walked around the empty site.  I could hear the sounds of kids on the playground, the smell of popcorn and hot dogs from the snack bar.  It was here folks came to forget about crops, dry weather, and 5am mornings.  I'd bet next month's pension Westerns got top billing.  From their pick up trucks they'd watch John Wayne triumphed over bad guys.  It was a different country back then.

                            Now playing at the Pineview Drive in....

     .........This old ticket shack.  Pick up trucks once lined up to get in to see John Wayne....

                               .......Next up this old movie screen

                        .......In the supporting cast, a long lost see saw.

                                         .....and last but not least, the concession stand.

The FJR noticed the smile on my face when I fired it up to ride out.  I'd just paid my respects to American icon, the Drive In Theatre.
The ride east began to wear on me.  The wind was constantly shifting, bucking me, I couldn't seem to get comfortable in the saddle.  No matter where I moved, my butt got stiff.  I resisted the urge to take a break and kept riding.  I made good use of the cruise control on US 20.

The windscreen of the FJR is more flexible than the ST 1300's,  It will bend slightly in strong wind, where as the ST 1300 has no flex, and I think that contributes to its famous "weave" at high speeds, with the screen up high.  The FJR is rock steady at any speed.  I don't know that for a fact, just my theory.

I split off US 20 for US 275 southeast of Oneil.  The skies grew cloudy and rain was in the area.  "The rain I saw on radar this morning still hanging around the area I see."

The town of Neligh looked to have more than the 1500 people than it read on the city limit sign.

While passing through the busy city of Norfolk, a cop met me, and made a U turn. "Uh oh this ain't good."  I wasn't speeding so I wondered what it could be.  He turned off before he got to me, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  It has been a long time, and many miles since my last LEO encounter.
When I found Wisner, it was time for a break and gas.  The Feejer was down to one bar.  It had been 200 miles since my last stop ( the drive in).  I filled up, bought a gatorade, and caught up on messages.  One of the local guys came in and sat near me.  He was cussing up a storm to his friends because he couldn't find a tractor part and would have to go to Omaha the next day to get it.

From Wisner I took SR 32.  I remember this section in my atlas when I layed out today's ride, but the area looked nothing like I thought it would.  The route dipped and sloped over the hills as I drew closer to the Missouri River.  At US 32 and 75 I went to the side to look for a motel on the GPS.  I brought the list up from the lodging icon and scrolled the options.   "Motel 6 in Omaha sounds good."  I tapped it and continued on.
My thoughts turned to sad thinking how this would be the last day of back road riding.  The next 2 days would be interstate riding to get home.  There is no such thing as back roads in Missouri, the state is mostly urban sprawl.  It would take way too long to get south off the interstates in this part of the country.

I followed the GPS into downtown Omaha.  "Motel 6 not usually in downtown areas, but we'll see."   When I came to the end the motel was a high dollar place.  I'm guessing somebody messed up the titles in the software because I saw nothing even close to a Motel 6.  I decided to work my way back to I-29 and ride south to see what I could find.  I was tired and ready to get off the road.  I wanted a warm bath and a decent supper.
With darkness settling in, I found a Super 8 in Council Bluffs off I-29.  I turned the FJR off after a 433 mile day, it felt more than that.  Clerk gave me a 69 dollar internet rate.  I found out on this tour how inflation has worked its way into long riding.  I recalled not long ago a Super 8 went for about 50 something, but I was glad to be here.

I had a upstairs room which really sucked, but I made do.  It took 2 trips to get all my gear in.  Then I went back down to clean the 1300 best I could with Plexus, most notably the windscreen.  Back in the room I took a long hot bath to help my stiff back.  The result of sleeping on the ground last couple of nights, and long day in the saddle.  The bath felt good and my loosened my back.

I also cleaned up the Shoei.

Finished that, I took a short walk across the street for supper at a truck stop with a Apple Barrel restaurant inside.
The inside was basically empty and the hostess told me to sit anywhere.  I had a good order of chicken fingers.
After supper I went back to the motel, and while crossing the street a police cruiser pulled along side.

"Did you call us?"


"Hmmmm someone did"  About that time we saw a guy walking out from between 2 trucks calling out-

"Officers!  Officers!" over here!"

I didn't stick around to see what the deal was. 
In the room I made phone calls and watched tv.  I half thought about going the distance tomorrow and break for home.  Before putting it in the GPS I correctly noted that the ride would be 1000 miles.  "That would be a brutal ride across I-70 and on into the night.  Prolly not gonna happen, but I won't rule it out just yet.  We'lll see how it  goes."

I fell asleep with the tv on about 10pm.