7/14/12 Rest day in Valentine, NE
Slept in until almost 6:30 am, then got up and went through my morning routine. Finished yesterday’s journal. Then Randy called and we walked to town to find breakfast and check out Main St. We ended up at the Bunkhouse Restaurant and had a delightful breakfast. I declared the bacon the best of the trip so far.
Valentine is known for its river rafting, canoeing and tubing. I tried to find one of the local companies and arrange for a 2 hour canoe rental. However, I had trouble getting anyone to return my calls.
Randy and I went to the Motel Raine office to tell them we wanted to stay another night and spoke to the owner, Tim, about things to do in town and the Cowboy Trail. The Cowboy Trial is a bike trail from Valentine to Norfolk that is a work in progress. When I looked it up on the Internet, it had gotten very poor reviews. Tim told us that there was an old train bridge just out of Valentine on the Cowboy Trail that we should see when we leave town, then we could get back on the highway. He also told us that the Niabara Wildlife Reserve was worth seeing, and generously offered to let us take his car to the reserve. Randy and I discussed Tim’s offer. While we agreed that neither of us would normally feel comfortable driving someone else’s car, I pointed out that Tim was really sincere and wanted us to take him up. I also noted that this was the first time we really had a chance to experience a town and not just ride by/through it. So, we took Tim up on his offer and drove out to the reserve. It was almost 100 degrees and few animals in sight. Mostly prairie dogs. We did think we saw a big buffalo off in the distance next to a wind vane (or maybe that was a grizzly bear). What was really interesting was that you had miles and miles of never-ending brown grasslands. Then, within walking distance, a totally different view of trees and a hike down to the Falls. Beyond the Falls was the river, where we were able to wade out and cool our feet. Very schizophrenic – two very opposite terrains within a very small distance from each other.
After we returned to town, I dropped Randy off at a bookstore and headed for a gas station to put some gas in Tim’s car. I saw Frank pedaling down Main St in the opposite direction and rolled down the window and yelled at him. Understandably, Frank looked confused and as if he were seeing things – I mean, seeing me driving a car in Valentine, NE was about the last thing he would ever expect. The look on his face was priceless. He called me a little later and I confirmed it was me and explained the situation.
I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, performing basic bike maintenance, reading, e-mailing and just generally enjoying the day. There was a picnic table in a grassy area next to the motel and I parked there for awhile. Randy and I had decided we would also spend another whole day tomorrow in Valentine. Two whole rest days! That is a first. But we have a couple of extra days to kill before RAGBRAI starts next weekend, and the Motel Raine is such a pleasant place we decided to stay. Also, I believe that taking a little extra time off at this point in the journey will give us an edge heading into the final month or so of the bike trip.
For dinner, I had Tim’s famous BBQ ribs. They were as tasty as any ribs I have had anywhere, and just fell off the bone.Tim and Dana are the owners of the Motel Raine, and have been exceptional hosts. As I mentioned previously, Tim graciously lent us his car. They also have made us almost feel very comfortable – almost like family here. That is one of the reasons we decided to stay the extra day. I told Tim about TBT and my journal and he and Dana graciously agreed to pose for a photo. If anyone reading this ever gets up this way, I would definitely recommend the Motel Raine.