Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Thursday, August 14, 2008
We had an interesting day in Nebraska today. We left at 7:40 with overcast skies and a calm wind, conditions that lasted pretty much all day. After admiring the Nebraska hills from across the river in Iowa for 2 days, we were now in them. In fact, we started out on probably the steepest climb of the day, coming out of Nebraska City. The views were stunning, though, such wide vistas and such green landscapes. They were mostly crops, of course, with interesting terracing and field patterns. We were going to be on a bike trail (Steamboat Trace) for about 20 miles - 40% of our day's route - and we were a little concerned that it would be, #1 findable, and #2 in good shape. Well, we didn't have any trouble finding it; it was the most well-marked bike trail we've seen yet. And the surface was good, even though it was gravel. We were actually impressed at how well-maintained it was. It occurred to us that it was a good thing that it hadn't rained the night before, or it might have been quite messy. The trail took us through woods and crop fields, alternately, and moved close to the Missouri River off and on. We had Iowa on the other side of the Missouri at first, and then Missouri, as we moved south along the river. At one point, when we were in crop fields, we saw these interesting structures every so often at the edge of the trail that looked like birdhouses. We took a picture of one that you can see below. As we were getting back on the bike, we thought we heard voices behind us, and a little while later we saw 3 guys on bikes coming up from behind. They passed us easily, exchanging greetings as they went. We caught up with them later, though, when we stopped for lunch, and chatted some more.
Our first town of the day was Peru, a small town that had an old train depot and a campground right on the trail. The train depot had been converted to bathrooms, conveniently enough. They had some bulletin boards with pictures of local birds and a newspaper write-up of Roland Sherman, who did some sculpting of the sandstone rocks on the trail ahead. As we got to the area with his work, we were surprised to find a sign calling it the Roland Sherman Memorial area. The newspaper article was about 16 years old and it said he was 63; I guess he must have died since then. At any rate, we saw a few of his sculptings, especially one of his more "whimsical" ones, as well as a few less artistic graffiti, in some very impressive sandstone cliffs. We continued down the trail past more woods, more fields, coming very close to the river again, and finally popping out into the city of Brownville. We were surprised at how picturesque Brownville was, we expected another tiny town with few services. There was supposed to be a restaurant there, though, and when we asked a couple of locals, they quickly pointed us a block down to a wonderful little cafe. We found our local bikers there, nearly done with their lunch. After a scrumptious lunch, we moved on through the town, seeing lots of other interesting buildings - an opera house (!), a folk art museum, and a winery built over a stream. Quite an amazing little Nebraska town.
After Brownville, we climbed another short, steep hill and got treated to a roller-coaster ride of one hill after another for several miles after that. None of them were very steep or long, so it wasn't all that bad a ride, and again, the views were beautiful. We did notice that it felt a little cooler than we expected and then noticed that the clouds had gotten a little more threatening, and hmmm, doesn't it look like it might be raining up ahead there? NOAA had given it a 30% chance and it looked like we might be riding into that 30% before the end of the day. We plugged on and soon enough, came into Falls City, our destination. We turned down the street where our hotel was and were surprised to find the streets were all brick! We were even more surprised by the sight of our hotel; it looked like an old-fashioned high-rise hotel. The hotel was being restored, we had been warned when we made the reservation, and only a block of rooms was available. We didn't realize that it was being restored to its original 1924 elegance - it was all very fancy. We'll have to get you some pictures of it tomorrow morning as we leave.
We arrived at our hotel at 2:50, without being rained on, having had a very interesting and enjoyable day. We went nearly 54 miles in nearly 5 hours and 40 minutes of bike time. And we have tons of pictures.