We woke up next to a baseball field in Sutherland, Nebraska, and continued walking along the Lincoln Highway. We had to leave before sunrise to avoid detection as we had just set up our tent in the middle of the town park. Today we would cross the halfway point on our cross country trip!
Today our plan was to walk to North Platte, home of Nebraskaland Days. Luckily, it was Saturday and a flier in Sutherland told us the county parade was to be held that morning! Excitedly, we hurried toward the town. Since Rebecca had switched to biking in Denver, she was able to make it to the town in less than an hour and a half. Tim, on the other hand, would not arrive until about 10 hours later, and miss the parade.
Six miles before we hit North Platte (at mile marker 172 on US-30, to be exact), we crossed a major milestone: we’d walked halfway across the country! On our route, we were 1,639 miles east of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean, and 1,639 miles west of New York City and the Atlantic Ocean.
While exploring the town, Rebecca got word of a FREE ice cream social featuring root beer floats at a local church, in celebration with the parade and Nebraskaland Days. When we heard FREE, ice cream, root beer, and float – we were in!
The city of North Platte was a great place to celebrate this tremendous occasion. We had planned on splurging on a motel room (if we found an acceptable one under $45), but the town park offered primative camping for only $5! …this meant no warm showers, tv, wifi, or the luxury of hot tea, but it did offer running water along with electricity to charge our cell phones, pedometers, camera, and extra battery packs!
Since we were at the far west end of the Central Time Zone, at the end of June, the sun didn’t set until nearly 10 pm! This was a problem as we were planning on a gargantuan walking day Sunday: 37 miles! We got into the tent by 9:30, but of course couldn’t fall asleep until 11pm.
Tim woke up ahead of Rebecca to get a jump start on the day to another pay campground in Gothenburg. By 6:30 am, before sunrise, he was all packed up and out the (tent) door.
Rebecca met Tim in Maxwell and we had first lunch behind a school (it was Sunday. And it’s summer!!). The picnic tables started off shaded, but every 15 minutes we had to scoot them over as the sun caught up with us on this hot afternoon.
Twenty miles in, a car stopped by and offered Tim a ride to the next town. Tim of course politely turned it down, and that’s when problems arose. Tim lost his headphones he had been using off and on (mostly during breaks and at the end of the day), and decided to go (walk!) back and look for them. This was not the smartest idea, considering today was going to tie our record for longest distance in a day (in the Nevada dessert). He walked over a half mile back to no avail. This added a mile roundtrip! With over ten miles to go, in the blazing Nebraska sun, Tim ran out of water. He called Rebecca, who had made it to the campground.
Within the hour Rebecca had biked out to Tim and resupplied water, and delivered Rainier cherries, Tim’s favorite! We walked together for a mile or two, until Google Maps steered us wrong. This was only the fourth or fifth time they’ve misled us. A “county road” it told us to turn on as a shortcut turned out to be an overgrown farm border, which looked like it was both private land, and impenetrable. This added another half mile.
After nearly collapsing due to exhaustion, Tim made it to the campground in Gothenburg, Nebraska. 15 hours, 39 miles, and nearly 83,000 steps later, he crawled to the campfire.
Rebecca surprised Tim with a Hershey’s chocolate bar, graham crackers, and marshmallows, or as campers ’round the world know it as: SMORES. It was magnificent.
Today had turned into THE longest day of the trip (so far). The 83,000 steps was the second most he’d ever walked a day in his life, besting the 82,378 step, 40 mile walk from his Logan Square, Chicago apartment to his hometown of Griffith, Indiana in August 2013. The only longer walk was a 52 mile trek from the same Logan Square apartment to Kenosha, Wisconsin in April 2014 when he and Rebecca each took over 108,000 steps in a day!
Following a warmish shower, and after moving the tent to the darkest part of the campground, we didn’t get to bed until almost 11:30 pm. Longest. Day. Ever.
But now finally more than halfway there!!
Today(s) we walked through:
Tim: 58,530 and 82,768 steps
Rebecca: 87 miles biked
1615 miles finished