Day Twenty-five: Torrington, Wyoming to Hemmingford, Nebraska - "Vibes" - CycleBlaze

From "Vibes"

By Jeff Lee

July 9, 2024

Day Twenty-five: Torrington, Wyoming to Hemmingford, Nebraska

I stayed up too late last night, and probably drank too much caffeinated Diet Pepsi, and had another night of not so great sleep.

I was up early, though, and ready to go  pretty quickly, after finishing yesterday's pizza in my room, then eating some eggs and oatmeal at the hotel's breakfast. They had the "Chef Pierre" Danishes, so I took some of them for the road.

It wasn't very busy on US-85 out of town, and then the traffic was even quieter once I turned onto WY-92.

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It didn't take long to enter Nebraska, and the first Nebraska town, Lyman, population 341.

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I immediately stopped at a little store called "Skippy's". There were no  meatless breakfast sandwiches already made, but the friendly woman working there offered to make me an egg-cheese-biscuit. 

She seemed confused about  what to charge for what was presumably an extremely uncommon order, though; I'm not sure, but I probably paid the same as the standard sandwich with sausage.

I ate my sandwich while I sat at a table next to a taciturn old farmer who was slowly working a word search puzzle in one of the several tattered puzzle books stacked on the table.

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I looked around the Lyman downtown. Most of the buildings appeared to be empty, but the Kelley Bean Co. appeared to be operational.

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Mark BinghamA lock on the door of the tornado shelter?!?!?!
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1 week ago
Jeff LeeTo Mark BinghamI wondered if anyone else would notice that!
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1 week ago
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Back on the road. There wasn't a lot to see, other than irrigated fields. I turned north onto a minor road, and then east onto County Road F, which is apparently part of an historic route:

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It started off as rough pavement then turned to gravel that alternated between decent quality and annoying washboard. A couple of trucks stirred up dust, but otherwise I had the road to myself.

The road turned to pavement, and I entered the outskirts of Mitchell, population 1,548. I stopped at an old gas station, primarily to use their bathroom, which was outside the store, and required a key attached to a large, unwieldy piece of plastic, handed to me by the friendly woman working there.

I felt I should buy something after using the bathroom, even though I didn't really need anything. I'd been searching recently for the "Salted Nut Roll" candy bar that Kelly Iniguez has written about on this website several times.

This old store with its limited selection of candy bars and snacks actually had it! I was almost beginning to think this thing was a myth :)

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Kelly IniguezI haven't found one for days. Idaho must not be the spot.
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1 week ago

After  a brief ride on the busy highway through town, I exited onto "Experiment Farm Road" for several pleasant miles.

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Experiment Farm Road ended. My route had me turning north onto NE-71, for a long, long, stretch. I had glanced at the map last night. If I'd looked at it more closely, I would have noticed that there were no services of any kind for many miles on this road. I realized now that I was probably cutting it very, very close in terms of my water supply.

NE-71 was not especially pleasant. The shoulder was minimal to non existent, and while it wasn't terrible, there was an aggravating amount of truck traffic. Aggravating to me, with my extremely low tolerance of traffic, anyway. And it seemed hillier than I expected, based on the RideWithGps elevation profile.

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As I write this, my memory was jogged. Joy and I actually rode this same highway eight years ago to the day (!) in 2016, when we rode from Mexico to Canada! This is the link to that day. I'm shocked now that I didn't mention then how hilly it was. Also, I wrote that the highway was almost completely empty. It sure didn't seem like that today.

I find this a little sobering. Has the eight years made such a difference in my physical and mental stamina, and my ability to deal with traffic? What seemed easy back then seemed difficult today.

A sign announced nine miles of roadwork ahead. Aargh!

It was as annoying and dusty as expected, and more disorganized than these things usually are; none of the flaggers seemed to know what do with me. I decided to just ride through the entire work area, ignoring the pilot car and the flaggers. They didn't appear to know what they were doing anyway.

The road work actually was to my advantage, I suppose, since the traffic was bottled up into small clumps. I just got off on the dirt next to the shoulder when a group occasionally passed me.

Finally, the road work ended.

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I was in a better mood  now, and took a few photos.

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I remembered a decrepit old church from 2016. Back then, I'd actually walked into the place and looked around. Today I was too hot and thirsty to bother with that.

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The Nebraska highway became US-2. I was now deviating from the route Joy and I did in 2016.

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I saw black smoke billowing far from the road. Was a house on fire? Should  I call 911? It didn't look like the smoke produced by burning brush or a field. 

A few minutes later several fire trucks came down the road.

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I rode on. It had flattened out now, fortunately, since I was out of water, with six miles to Hemmingford, my destination for the day.

I passed some sort of trucking operation to my left, noticed a pop  machine in front of the office, and pulled in. A woman walking into the office asked me "Is it warm enough for you?" and then confirmed that the machine was in working order. I put in a couple of dollars,  and pressed one of the very faded buttons that I could barely read.

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The machine disgorged an ice cold Sunkist orange soda, which I chugged as quickly as I've ever chugged any drink.

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That powered me to Hemmingford, population 771.

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Hemmingford was a nice town. I checked into the Schoolhouse B&B, a recently remodeled little house. It is surely the nicest lodging I've paid for on this trip. I walked to the small supermarket, purchased ice cream and chocolate milk, and used the kitchen in the house to cook a noodle dish that I'd purchased the first day of this trip, and had been carrying in a pannier since then.

It felt like my cold, or virus, or whatever it is had gotten worse the last couple of days. The coughing had returned and I felt slightly short of breath.

I organized my online maps for the rest of this tour, and added up all the miles. 995 to go. I decided to do a shorter today tomorrow, 50-something to Rushville, and called an old motel there to make sure they had a room.

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Today's ride: 94 miles (151 km)
Total: 1,647 miles (2,651 km)

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