Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Badlands and Grasslands

In Murdo South Dakota, 3594 miles into the trip. Hot, humid and windy. Whoever said the prevailing winds in the U.S. are from West to East has never ridden a bicycle across the country! Even the cows have take to the water to cool off!!!!

Spent the early morning riding and hiking through more of the Badlands National Park. Tons of great pictures. The close up of the barren landscape gives you an idea of how brittle the land is and how fast water and wind can cause erosion. The Badlands are eroding away at about an inch every 50 years, which compares to 1/10 on an inch for the granite hills of the Black Hills of South Dakota. In 500,000 years the Badlands will be completed eroded away. Better visit now while the scenery is still good!

Headed East after the Badlands through the grasslands of Western South Dakota. Visited the only standing original homestead house made of sod in South Dakota. Note the sod inside the room above. The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed anyone to "homestead" 160 acres of land. The costs were $18 an acre and you had to plow five acres for farming and build a house and live on the land for at least 5 years at which time the U.S. government deeded the land to you. The common joke was that you were betting $18 an acre and the Government was betting you would never last 5 years on your homesteaded land! Because there were very few trees in the grasslands, many homesteaders built their original homes out of sod from the grasslands. The home pictured above was built in 1909 with the last homestead in the area being in 1935. Unfortunately, very few homesteaders were able to make a go of it due to drought and most lost their farms during the dust bowl years of the 1930's.

During the last several weeks I have at least a hundred rattlesnakes, most of them dead on the road and a few alive. I finally decided today to take a picture of a snake that had just been run over by a vehicle.

I have always said I would rather be "lucky than good". Seems like I have had my share of good luck on the trip. Tonight, I discovered a problem with my rear wheel. After a couple of hours I decided fixing it would be hopeless and hitching a ride to the nearest bicycle shop, about 70 miels away, would be tomorrow's first priority. As a last ditch effort, I asked the front desk clerk at the Best Western if anyone in town might be able to help. After 5 minutes of hearing why no one in the town of 736 people could help and the only person who used to fix bikes had passed away several years ago, the owner of the motel came out of his office and said he used to work in a bike shop 20 years ago and might be able to help. After 15 minutes he had my bike back into working order and hopefully I will make it to the next bicycle shop to have repairs completed. All this, after deciding not to camp for the night which was the original plan, and deciding to stay at the Best Western which I normally wouldn't do because of my daily budget.

Advice for the day--"Always best to drink upstream from the herd"--sign in a local shop in Scenic South Dakota.

More grasslands tomorrow and then into the farming region of Eastern South Dakota.


At July 29, 2008 1:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mel: Hell of a trip you're having. Looking down thru your posts I am amazed. Heard about it at the PAFE summer fundraiser. Stay clear of the rattlesnakes and keep cycling.

At July 30, 2008 12:32 PM , Blogger mindy said...

Hi Mel,
I've been having trouble posting. I'll take that up with Chris B.
Love your pictures and running commentary. What a great trip!
Bill has publicly announced that we are coming to the Florida Keys to congratulate you at The End. Wow! Can't wait.


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