Day 43. North Platte NE. | End: Paxton NE. | Mileage 2353.2
A cold night but one I was prepared for. Not the typical cold, a winter by no means, just a morning in the high 50’s. Falling asleep with nothing but a rucksack full of clothes as a pillow and a pair of shorts on, I tend to keep it simple. The normal attire for a day at the beach works great for a night of sweating in the tent. Before the night fell I wondered the campground in search of something to photograph and met a man named Jim. He is a retired navy officer and a proud grandfather of many. After talking about traveling and sharing stories, he gave me an old jacket when he found out I was looking for a sports shop in preparation for the cooler weather ahead. Looking like new and feeling like Xmas, I was happy to find me a new blanket. For a man that has little, he was very generous. “No need to be materialistic,” in his words.
Again we pack and find ourselves back on the road, squinting in the morning sun. The town came up quick. Cluttered with cars and the sounds of progress, we found a Wal-Mart and started the search there. Hearing it was cold in Yellowstone at night, I was still in need of a sleeping bag. We tried one store, then another until finally nearing the end of town. After leaving all my hope into the last general sports store, I managed to find a under armor shirt. I took a short breath and handed the credit card over. These things are so expensive; yet knowing I would rather be broke than sick… I man’ed up. Plus the kind woman marked down twenty percent for me, knowing my situation. “You guys are crazy” she said, the typical statement we get. Ha-ha.
The wind was out of the west, hot and humid. It stung like a blast of hot air out of an oven. We planned for a short day due to the route we decided on for tomorrow. The lack of towns and watering holes became our number one concern. Managing the heat and stopping for a drink, we found our selves in the last town before our destination. Jessie, with a smile so big, came over and talked to Dirk while I was in the shop. Bike enthusiast as well, we clicked instantly. She offered us a place to stay for the night and then had to run back to work, Paxton’s postmaster. Dirk and I talked, weighed out everything like an arithmetic problem and decided. We were down!
Later that day after meeting the family and going for a swim, Dirk and I talk with Matt over a beer. Matt is a gnarly dude, Jessie’s husband and father of the family, who is also an avid cyclist. Gravel is his terrain of choice, killing hills with a single speed mountain bike. It was great talking and just relaxing the rest of the day. We were treated with a great home cooked meal that sure hit the spot. We found ourselves in the famous bar of Nebraska and the other two in town. Let’s just say it was easy to fall sleep, the busy day we had and the fun night in town was to blame.