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This chapter was written and sent on the internet from the Kearney Public Library.

April 26, Sunday
We must have worn ourselves out yesterday because we slept 11 hours last night. We needed the rest because we were battered by winds again today. Our route took us mostly due east and the NNW winds of 20 to 25 mph were more of a nuisance than impediment as they tried to push us off the road. Tumbleweed rolled toward us and dust clouds sprayed our faces. The land continues to be rolling hills with large ranches. Each ranchhouse is surrounded by trees as a kind of fortress from the invading and ever-present winds. Entering into North Platte we were now in the Central Time zone. We took advantage of a short bike day to do laundry, update our journal on computer, and get a bit of rest. By not taking a previously scheduled day off tomorrow, we will be able to once again be on our planned schedule.

35.4 miles, 10.8 mph, 3 hrs 14 min, 349 total miles

April 27, Monday
The day dawned cool and misty with more north winds. We inquired at the front desk of our motel about getting a taxi into town to run some errands, but they volunteered to drive us themselves. So, we picked up our mail at the Post Office, sent our journal via the internet at the library and got some groceries before the motel clerk came back to pick us up.

Once on the trail, we were again often on gravel canal roads. The Tri County Canal is growing to 30 to 40 feet across and large enough to have rapids. It attracts many ducks and waterfowl. To the south, irregular sand hills abruptly rise from the valley. With the nearest town five miles away, we stopped at a nearby farmhouse to ask permission to camp. To our delight, they invited us in for the night. Cheri, a state police trooper, had to leave for work so her kids, age 12, 16, and 19, plus a three year old grandson kept us entertained, made us dinner, and made us feel welcome.

Brandon, age 12, showed us around the ranch and explained to us about branding day. Neighbors get together to help each other out and in 20 seconds they can do one calf which means: rope, brand, castrate, put medical injections up the calf's nose and in his ear. It has to be the worst 20 seconds in the calf's life, but at least its over fast. Cheri's husband, Don, came in from planting corn around 8 pm. He explained how many ranchers have trouble with their cattle being rustled. Some auction houses in eastern Nebraska take cattle without checking the brands, which is a sore point with the ranchers. He went back out later than night for several more hours of corn planting by headlight. This is not an easy life!

41.5 miles, 10.6 mph, 3 hours 54 minutes, 391 miles total

April 28, Tuesday
More chilly overcast weather and strong winds from the northeast. Our route today was mostly east with a little south thrown in. When we're headed south you can barely feel the wind, but our speedometers read 18 mph with little effort. Then, as we turned east, the cold blast slowed us to 7 mph. We camped at Johnson Lake State Park in a beautiful grassy area. There was no competition for choice sites at this time of year. We have been very pleased with the ADT route in Nebraska so far. It has a good mix of gravel and paved roads, interesting scenery, and visits enough towns to provide services.

35 miles, 10.3 mph, 3 hours 23 minutes, 426 miles total

April 29, Wednesday
It rained during the night so we had to pack the tent wet. By 9 am the rain quit and we were off. We can really make good time in the morning before the winds start and 15 miles goes by rapidly. After that, the east winds cranked up again and we fought the cold blustery air in our faces the rest of the day. At one point, we rode 8 miles of gravel road that was wet from the rain. Our tires sunk into the sandy surface and with the winds, we could only do about 7 miles per hour.

At a roadside ranch, in a corral, we saw a group of men who were up to something with some bulls. We asked if we could watch and they invited us into the corral. The ranch raises bulls and they had just sold six of them to other ranchers. Prior to taking delivery, they have to do a sperm check on each bull to assure they are virile and potent. They herded them into a single file pen and then a huge hydraulically driven clamping device locked in the first bull. One man took a large round object and installed in into the bull's rectum (with plenty of complaining by the bull). Then they turned on an electrical current, which stimulates the bull to ejaculate. Another guy catches the semen in a cuplike device and then checks a drop under a microscope. If the bull passes, he gets two more injections, a medicine is applied to his back, his ear tag gets cut off, and the brand of the buying rancher is burned into the bull's flank with an electrically heated iron. Believe me, the bull is not havng a fun time here, but the payoff is the many future years he gets to spend procreating with all his female friends. The things we learn on the American Discovery Trail!

After 46 miles of riding in the winds without a single store or gas station where we could take an inside break, we rode into Kearny, a large town of 25,000 people. We had failed to understand the long distance between services today and we had very little to eat for lunch, so we stopped at the first McDonald's and chowed down. Then, to a motel, then to the library to work on the journal, and then a later dinner.

46.3 miles, 10.6 mph, 4 hours 25 minutes, 473 miles total

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1998, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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