East meets West – June 18 & 19

The train tracks we camped next to in Big Springs didn’t wake us up as often as we expected. Only four or five times. This was our first town in Nebraska, and Colorado took 23 days to walk through, about 501 miles. Despite the nearby train horns (and a thunderstorm!), our first night in “The Good Life” state was a success!

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Motivation!!

After we packed up the tent, we saw Carole on our way out of town, and thanked her for dinner and company the night before. Today we’d finally join US-30, which we’ll follow for nearly 1,800 miles to New York City (well, we’ll turn in Philadelphia).

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Tiny Nebraska Town

After climbing a large hill out of town, we reached US-30, which provided great views of the surrounding small farm towns.

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Hills: scenic, but hard to walk up and down

This road has also has many historic markers, largely for the Pony Express. The markers usually offer not only shade, but a history lesson as well.

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History sticks to your feet

We were warned by the townsfolk in Julesburg, Colorado and Big Springs, Nebraska that if we continued east we would walk through a large feedlot in Brule. They said we’d better hope the wind was moving south! Tim didn’t notice the smell, and even took an hour long lunch break in the nice park in town (it even had a rock climbing wall!!).

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It's a Brule, Brule, world

Our destination today was a warm bed in Ogallala (we didn’t stay at the Oregon Trail Motel). When we met our hosts Jolene and Ted, Ted shook Tim’s hand and said he’d never met anyone who thought they were crazy enough to walk across the country (Well Ted, we’re almost half-way there!).

Rebecca got into town early and helped cook dinner, and bake cookies. Right before dinner they mentioned it would be the first time they would host another party, two cyclists biking from Maine to California! We had dinner at 7pm, and Ted said the cyclists wouldn’t arrive until 8. Right at 7, Deborah and Mark walked in! Ted exclaimed he wasn’t expecting them for another hour, and they pleaded that it WAS 8pm. Mark showed Ted his watch, and it said 8. Ted pointed to all of the house clocks, which read 7. Tim then shot up from the couch and explained that the cyclists must have crossed the timezone without realizing it. Western Nebraska is in Mountain Standard Time, and the rest is Central (Thanks for being such great hosts, Ted and Jolene!).

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East meets West

Deborah and Mark were two recent college grads who, similar to Rebecca and Tim, thought crossing the US by foot-power was a great idea! After exchanging stories of the road with them, we realized they had stayed with one of Tim’s co-workers (Brad) from the Chicago Bike Program, in Tim’s old neighborhood (Logan Square). Deborah and Brad’s girlfriend were both leaders for Teen Treks bike trips! What a small world!

Follow Deborah and Mark’s blog:
downtowncoolsville.us

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These boots are made for fencin'

The next morning Tim cooked a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast for Rebecca, Deborah, and Mark (and saved some bacon for Ted and Jolene’s son!). We planned to hit the road early, since we’d lose an hour crossing into the Central Time Zone (Chicago, our home city’s time zone!). We failed and didn’t leave until 10:30am…. so really 11:30.

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Hay, there!

We had a 33 mile day ahead of us. Tim only walks between 3 and 4 mph, so we knew it would take between 8.5-11 hours without breaks. Rebecca stayed in Ogallala a few more hours, and caught up with Tim right as we crossed the time zone! Rebecca went ahead to Sutherland, and a few hours later a cyclist approached Tim.

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A visitor!

Before Tim could greet the cyclist, the stranger yelled “Hi, Tim!”. It’s a strange feeling when a person you’ve never met travels literally thousands of miles to say hello. Axle, the shirtless cyclist, was biking from Washington DC to San Francisco, and had met Rebecca closer to our destination. Tim and Axle traded stories, and info on road conditions and the towns for days to come.

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Riding off into the sunset

Tim still had four miles to go as the sun was quickly setting. It was only the second time we had to walk after sunset. We’re prepared for everything, and Tim donned his bright yellow, reflective rain jacket, along with a headlamp and carefully walked into town. After a fast-paced, long distance walk, Tim arrived to a baseball field in Sutherland where Rebecca had set up our tent in the shadows.

Tomorrow, we would cross the halfway point on our walk across the USA.

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A long day's night

Today(s) we walked through:
Big Springs
Brule
Ogallala
Roscoe
Paxton
Sutherland

Tim: 48,422 and 66,978 steps
Rebecca: 55 miles biked

1552 miles finished

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