The Grumbys Go Camping With Boy Scouts - Undaunted Porridge - CycleBlaze

June 1, 2018

The Grumbys Go Camping With Boy Scouts

Death and worse happened on the plains.
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove


Its not that the wind is blowin', it's what the wind is blowin'".                                            Ron White

Preface: I have provided detailed descriptions of the weather events in a couple of my posts not to complain, but to be accurate. I'm experienced in the outdoors  and understand there are risks and unpredictable conditions. And as I write this 3 days later, things are much better. We are having fun. 

Anyway....after two days hanging with Bonnie and Ed, the Long Haul Truckers were saddled and rearin' to go at 6am.  The ride up the driveway was a little thigh-burner, but then we had a nice hill to scream down on the way to the bike path that leads all the way down town and across the Missouri into Council Bluffs. It was reasonably cool but started to warm by 8:00, so we kept the hammers down in an effort to finish early in the afternoon. Eastbound and Down, as Jerry Reed said. 

The path along the Missouri at sunrise
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Chugging along on the Long Haul Trucker
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The pedestrian bridge leading from Omaha to Council Bluffs
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After about 12 miles we exhausted the separated bike paths and entered Old Lincoln Highway and headed north. The Hitchcock Nature Center was our destination for the night and we took the gravel cutoff at Ski Hill Loop rather than Old Lincoln. It was very hot and hilly (ski hills are usually up hills), and headwinds caused inadvertent cursing to flow from me. Very unusual. 

Jen got a good shot of the swallows flying around
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The gravel and the heat
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We arrived to Hitchcock at about 11:30, pretty good, but it was already low 90s, blowing like crazy and humid. If you go to Hitchcock, the tent area is waaay down a hill, not fun after climbing up to get to the park in the first place, and then it is a steep walk down into a fairly flat tree lined area. I vetoed immediately and we set up on an RV site and laid down on picnic tables under a covered pavilion next to a parked RV trailer. The RV occupant, a lumbering guy with a scowl, stomped around a bit, ignored my greeting, and then began power-sawing 2x4s into little blocks. Gotta have a hobby in retirement I guess. I think he didn't like us bikers under the pavilion. 

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We then rode to the Hitchcock Lodge, which is impressive and air conditioned! They are educating and preserving the natural prairies and wildlife habitat in the Loess Hills of Iowa, and they do a lot of education for kids. After poking around there we headed back to camp in the even hotter sun. Jen started to feel sick, probably from the heat, so she laid down in the tent for awhile. I had moved the tent to the area right near the covered pavilion because more thunderstorms were forecast and I wanted a place to go if it got too wet. The plan was another we early pre-heat departure tomorrow, so we ate delicious mashed potatoes and summer sausage with a salad.  The winds and clouds were kicking  up, so we hoped for the best and went to bed. 

Grumpy RV man had a few people over to his site and decided it would be a good idea to start a fire with 20mph winds and impending lightning, but it was blowing the other direction and not at the tent.  Still not the smartest thing you'll see. At least he'll never be president. Right?

Anyway, we fell asleep around 9:00 pm and blissfully snoozed all the way to about 11:30 pm when the wind started pounding the tent like Mike Tyson pounding on Trevor Berbick. The aluminium poles flexed and bounced up and down violently. Aside from a couple nights ago in Falls City, there has only been one time I can remember with storms like this, and it was years ago in the Ouachitas with my buddy Scott. But this was something else. At about 1am it finally got so bad that we headed to the restrooms for shelter. We chose the men's room and when we opened the door were met by 8 boy scouts, their two adult leaders, a young woman and her drunk boyfriend from Wisconsin, or Colorado, depending on which story he was telling. He started talking about wind not being that big of a deal, and then Jen landed the line that I was thinking:

Its not that the wind is blowin', it's what the wind is blowin'.

Bam! Nailed it! Brilliant, and I was proud of her for being so quick. Drunk Wisconsin Guy smiled, recognized the Ron White line, and gave her thumbs up. Then he offered us some Fireball, which we declined. 

We talked for awhile, and then everyone began to drop off from exhaustion. Jen and I brought some warm clothes in, so we put those on and laid on the concrete men's room floor. Luckily it was new, large and very clean. 

The clean, spacious bathroom that protected about 14 people
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The madness continued; lightning, pounding rain, 40 mph wind; until about 5:30. The scouts walked back to their tent sites way down the hill and Jen and I walked the 30 yards back to ours, climbed in, sopped up some water that got in where the rainfly had become unstaked, and slept for 3 more hours. 

It was an interesting experience and something we and the scouts will remember for a long time, but both uf us were pretty demoralized when we woke up. We are living as nomadic bike travelers, but if it's not fun most of the time, what's the point?  So far on this trip, of 5 camping nights involved seeking shelter from deadly winds and lightning. What the hell? But we are committed. Our Hostile Actors friends sent messages that said "you don't have to prove anything to anyone" and "stay safe and be smart". These and many other comments have been helpful. This is going to be fun. Just watch! 

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Today's ride: 28 miles (45 km)
Total: 130 miles (209 km)

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Cissy ByrdThis tour is going to be a memorable one, for sure! Some of your weather stories are similar to some of ours..... we have spent quite a few nights in bathhouses also! One of these days we will get together and trade “war stories”! Happy trails🚴🏽‍♀️🚴‍♂️
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2 years ago
Scott AndersonWhat do you mean, not fun? I’ve never gotten to hide out in the men’s room with a bunch of Boy Scouts before. You’ll be telling that story for the rest of your lives.
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Scott AndersonYou're exactly right. I actually told one of them that same thing, that he'd be telling his kids about that night.
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Cissy ByrdYes, I remember the heat you guys had in the L&C in Montana.

Interesting note: I was looking for a Warm Showers host in Sioux City and found a review you and Rich left for them that year.
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2 years ago
Bruce LellmanI feel bad that you have had such a hard beginning but for some reason I can't stop laughing.
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Bruce LellmanAlways laughing at my misfortune.....
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2 years ago