14. Jul, 2016

12-13.07.16 Atlantic, Iowa to Mullen, Nebraska via Grand Island, Nebraska

We set off yesterday morning after saying goodbye to Karen, who had been our AirBnB host in Atlantic.  We had spied her apartment which seemed perfect for us a few days earlier, and it was in the basement of her house, completely separate from where she lived.  The kindness and welcome she had offered was amazing, with cakes and cookies on arrival, and a fridge with food for two days’ breakfast in it.  Karen had also checked out the restaurants in the area which were open on Sundays, so that we could find one easily to visit, which is how we found the previously mentioned ‘Oinkers’!

All in all, a nice homely experience for us.

Anyway, the day started well with us heading off to visit the Swedish Coffee Pot made from a water tower, in a Swedish settlers’ village called Stanton.  We found this easily enough.

The next stop though, found us with the Sat Nav dangling on a wire, having broken away from its plastic holders that attached it to the mounting system on the bike.  It had been quite problematic for the last week or so, and we were having to use WD40 on it, to get the spring load to work, and attach its little pins to the back of the unit, which the electric charge goes through.  It kept shutting down as we rode along. Anyway, now it was dangling, so we set off to the nearest shop, where a helpful guy sent Paul to Walmart in the big town Council Bluffs, Iowa, 20 miles away- no luck there.  Paul had spied a big Harley Davidson dealer on the way to Council Bluffs, so we tried there on the way back, although they were super helpful (despite our bike being a BMW -*hiss, boo, hiss*-), they couldn’t help.

We decided not to worry as we’d faffed for a couple of hours already, and rode on in what Paul knew to be the correct direction, before stopping for lunch.  Paul then very handily whipped out some cable ties and tied the Sat Nav to the mount, with the idea that we would try and order a new one online and have it sent to a future motel.  Sat Nav bobbed along happily for the rest of the day, working better than it had for ages.

We’re finding everybody whenever we stop at the moment tells us “you’ll love it when you reach the West”, and we are really looking forward to it, at the same time as not wishing away our time. In particular yesterday, we met a guy at a Gas Station, Don, who was extremely helpful with route suggestions for what we had coming up.  Whilst we sat together, he took a call from his Mom, and told her all about his new friends and their plans!

Today we followed route 2, to the West, the Sandhills Trail out from Grand Island, and slowly the landscape began to change from those relentless Cornfields into what looked like and endless golf links, with hills made from sand. It was a thing of real beauty after all the flat lands we’ve been travelling through.

When stopped for a drink, in a small village of Litchfield, Nebraska, we had a chance to count the rail carriages on one of the rail road trucks that passed us, it was 120 carriages long, with four diesel engines. Yesterday, Paul had measured the length of one, and it was 1.4 miles.  They take a jolly long time to pass through anywhere, and come often!

So tonight finds us in Mullen, Nebraska, where the lady checking us in to the motel told Paul it really is the West, and very different from East Nebraska, where they are Easterners.  She told him that we will find people even more friendly here, and very self-sufficient.

Can’t wait for tomorrow.