Nuclear rain

T – I am loving it when every morning I pull back the door of the tent and I am greeted by blue skies and sunshine! It puts a smile on my dial! I used to be an early riser, but with that big stretch of cloudy rainy weather we had a while back, I stopped getting up so early. Now its back to 6am and I am up and raring to go! Come on Channy. Wake up!

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We were passing down the western edge of Nebraska today. Probably all the way down through and into Colorado. We had no real fixed plan, just to head south for the day. So while Chantelle typed up the last two days blog and made us a cuppa, I pulled down camp and soon we were underway!

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Nebraska is beautiful. I really loved it. I love the rolling grasslands disappearing away into the distance. I love the massive sky. I think it reminds me of home. The country side looking very much like rural South Australia. The people here too are super friendly. Almost every driver on the road waved, the people in the small towns we passed through also waved from the sidewalk.

C – Nebraska certainly has an ‘old America’ feel, like you see in the older American movies. I think it helps that it was warm and sunny and the roads were almost empty! The drivers were did see where very friendly and courteous, giving us plenty of room and a wave. We road along some beautiful backgrounds with changing conditions – gravel, sand, mud, corrugations, ruts and some lovely smooth hard surfaces. It was a perfect mornings ride.

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T – We took a nice long back road that took us past some old fossil beds. So we pulled in and had a poke around the museum and sat and watched a short film on the area. The Ranger running the show stopped the film when he saw us coming in just in case we wanted to watch it. How lovely!

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The museum was excellent and after we filled up on nerdy goodness we headed south again.

C – The most interesting part of the Agate Fossil Beds museum was the story of local rancher James Cook. He first discovered the fossils on his ranch and after reporting the find, had lots of scientists over many years investigating his property, Agate Springs Ranch. But the interesting part of the story for me was the friendship he formed with the local Cheyenne and Lakota people. They frequented his ranch and it seems the relationship was filled with mutual respect. Over the years, the Cheyenne and Lakota people gifted the Cook family many artefacts, which are now on display at the centre. The most interesting for me being the buffalo hide that was painted to depict the story of the Battle of Little Bighorn, where Custer was defeated. The warriors involved in the battle painted this hide. What a wonderful piece of preserved history.

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T – The riding was excellent. The roads were empty, the sun was fat and warm, the landscape flashing by us was brown and hilly, dotted with glossy fat healthy cows and their little calves. I was loving life for sure today!

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We eventually came to a town called Mitchell where we had just missed out on a parade announcing the opening of the County Fair. Bugger! There was a cool vibe here and the town seemed to be full of life and laughter. We had a bite of lunch and had a quick chat to a lady nearby.

The conversation started with the usual questions such as, where we were from/going, types of bikes fuel range etc before she apologised to us for Nebraska. I asked her why she felt she had to apologise for this lovely place. Telling her that Nebraska is fast becoming my favourite state.

‘Because of all the Republicans’ she replied.

Well I didn’t quite know what to say about that. But then she said she was worried for her country. That she thought Trump would be getting in and that her country would become the laughing stock of the world. I really felt bad for her. She was truly saddened by how America may be perceived by the world. I told her that the people in the USA were lovely and friendly and that politics usually didn’t reflect on how the everyday person acted. So I told her how in Australia we also have a stupid git called Pauline Hanson who is racist and just generally an idiot and yet she managed to get her party a foot hold in parliament.

We said our goodbyes and continued on. We passed through beautiful farm land. Where crops were farmed in strips. It looked as though one strip was harvested and replanted while right along side it the next narrow strip was growing. It makes for some very pretty patterns across the ground.

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The GPS took us on a back road that eventually dwindled down to a track. We pressed on and soon enough we were back onto gravel/sandy roads.

Then we passed something behind a chain link, barbed wire fence. I doubled back.

There I stood at the gates to a modern day nuclear missile silo. A Minute Man III silo to be exact. The lid of the silo proper clamped down over whatever steel tube of death was buried down there in the ground. I called Chantelle back to have a look. Cameras mounted on a pole swivelled about looking in our direction. A big sign warned of ‘Use of Deadly Force Authorised’. I took a few photos until Chantelle turned up.

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Then things got a bit weird. This is no lie, no exaggeration. Our helmet intercoms filled with a buzzing static. We could barely make out what we were saying to each other over the electronic noise. Then the GPS acted strangely. The image spinning crazily around before it shut itself off. We quickly left.

C – We with laughing hysterically at what was obviously electronic interference, but we enjoyed making up many conspiracy stories about what had happened!!!!! We did loudly apologise and explain that we are just silly Aussie tourists.. no threat here!!!

T – The buzzing went away and the GPS returned to normal. That was weird. So a bit further up the road, I stopped at the next missile silo. Parked Mabel and Rosie in front of the gate and took another photo. Then further up the road was another, and another, and another. These things were buried everywhere. Some right in peoples back yards! We must have ended up passing 15 of them just on this one stretch of road today. Crazy. We both found it a little terrifying that there could potentially be that many nuclear war ready weapons buried out here. Hopefully they are just empty holes in the ground.

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Finally we passed a heap of oil wells and their associated equipment, plus a few missile silos chucked in for good measure, before we were spat out into Colorado. Dusty dry and rattled from the corrugations, but grinning from ear to ear. Thank you Nebraska! You are truly beautiful!

C – We both really enjoyed our ride through Nebraska, and wonder if we would have felt differently had we visited the more populated areas. But what we saw was wonderful – small country towns filled with people just doing their thing.

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T – We checked our map book and set the GPS for a free camp in the nearby town of Fort Morgan.

Just down the road a little ways we pulled over to adjust the GPS. There was a funny smell here. Like burning rubbish. Or tyres. Or something. It seemed really strong and Chantelle suspected Rosie. We shut her off but couldn’t smell it or see anything on her. I hopped back on Mabel. I could faintly smell it again but it seemed to be dissipating. That’s when Chantelle noticed a big smoking hole in Mabels top box. Where all our electronics were house. SHIT!

I quickly opened it up and found our deep cycle battery was rapidly melting into a big pool of jelly and our registration and insurance documents plus our mapbook were on fire.

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Crap damn crap crap crap damn crap damn.

It seems when I had put the mapbook away that I had accidentally touched the metal spiral edge of it to the positive and negative terminals of the battery, hence starting the chemical reaction that produces heat and fire. It was so lucky Chantelle spotted it. Otherwise Mabel may have gone up in a cloud of smoke. Poor bloody bike. She must hate me.

C – I couldn’t believe when I saw the hole in the box and the smoke. Todd was very lucky the whole thing didnt go up in flames. At least we now have interesting looking registration and insurance papers and it did give us the kick in teh pants we needed to purchase a better map book!

T – We made it to our camp. Which was a very busy, very noisey city park. But it was free. So we setup camp and very shortly after we were invited to have dinner with a local couple. They had bought a heap of hotdogs and soft drink to the park and were hoping to give a big feed out to anyone who might need it. Such a lovely gesture. We had a great time chatting with them and then it was time to try to sleep. There was so much music and cars revving and people trash talking going on tha it did take some time before that happened though.

C – Kevin and Leah were truly amazing people. Genuine, kind people who don’t have much themselves but want to make the world a better place by being kind to others. We had a lovely time chatting to them and learning more about them and their family. Some days you meet people who inspire you to be a better person. Today, Leah and Kevin inspired us.

T – Tomorrow we head for the Rocky Mountain National Park!

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