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08/09/2007 Entry: "Platte, SD to Rock Rapids, IA"
Platte to Parkston
As Karen was typing up the last journal update, I was outside talking to Platte's Family Doctor, Doc Bentz. We got to chatting about the wonderful nature of bike touring. I noted that we always end up meeting interesting people wherever we go, and hearing their stories is one of the highlights of our trip. Doc was on his way home to pack up for a family vacation he was leaving on the next day, but as he left he said he would come find us at the library or the park we planned on camping in if he thought of anything or anyone interesting we should know in Platte. He returned within half an hour, finding me on the computer, and said that he had an interesting person to introduce us to. Ilo Vanderboom was waiting to meet us outside the library.
Ilo Vanderboom was two weeks away from his 90th birthday, but impressively agile and active none-the-less. In 1959, Ilo started Boom's drive-up restauraunt, which still thrives throughout South Dakota today (we've ridden past a few). His wife Eudora was on vacation with their daughter, so Ilo was home alone. He invited us to stay in his yard, or in the spare beds inside if we didn't think he was too creepy. He also bought us tickets to go to the dinner theater that just happened to be scheduled for that night. We met the owner of the theater, Marc, who was one of nine children from one of the poorest families in Platte made millionaire. Doc Bentz said that Marc and Ilo where the people who did the most for Platte, putting incredible amounts of time and money into improving the area for the community. The dinner theater was very entertaining. Dinner was catered by Boom's drive-in, and every person that walked in greeted Ilo. His reply was always some variation of "I think Doc Bentz is finally trying to kill me now, introducing me to these three young babes! What do you think of my harem?" Ilo went to work when dinner was over, claiming that he couldn't hear anything anyway, so it wasn't worth staying for the show. We walked into the theater area, and the Sweet Water Girls walked onto stage. They were three energetic middle-aged women wearing blue jeans and white t-shirts with sparkly US flags on the front. The lights went down, the music started piping in through the speakers, and the women started singing, "Oh happy day, oh happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away..." They continued to sing songs from the fifties, tell really cheesy jokes, and keep Karen, MinWah and I extremely entertained, despite the fact that we were very, very tired. They finished up with a song that goes "I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died and gave that right to me. And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, 'cause there ain't no doubt, I love this land, God bless the USA." Then we left to go to bed, laughing at the cheesiness all the way back to Ilo's house and imagining what Seager would have had to say. When Ilo came home from work later, he asked if we had gotten a good fill of South Dakota corn. I didn't understand and asked what he meant. He said that he had gone to the end of the show to get us afterwards, and it was definitely very corny.
In the morning, we went to Doc Bentz's house for breakfast. He made fresh blueberry muffins, and they were still warm when we got to his house. There was lots of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, coffee, juice, tea, and lots of good conversation. We enjoyed eating our breakfast outside, then went inside to listen to Leanna play a song on her enormous, beautiful pedal harp. We rode out of Platte at a reasonable time in the morning towards Parkston.
The ride to Parkston was pretty uneventful. We took a little detour to a smaller road so we could pass through some small towns and avoid some traffic. We passed by an enormous field of sunflowers, fought a headwind until a storm passed over, soaked us thoroughly and changed the wind. Right before the storm came, a woman named Vera pulled over to chat with us. She had seen us a few days before on her way to the Pine Ridge Reservation and was now on her way home to Souix Falls. She gave us her phone number and said we should call when we got into town, offering showers and a yard to camp in.
When we got to Parkston, we bought some fruit and headed to the city park. Being Sunday, there was barely anyone around, so we waited until a police car drove by to ask if we could camp in the park. Officer Lyle Weeks said that would be fine, but we might want to go to the other park because it got less traffic. We looked back at the empty park, and around at the empty streets, and said we thought this one would be fine if he didn't mind. He shrugged, said it was our choice, and then we started talking about our trip for awhile longer. He came back three times that afternoon to chat about bike touring and being a police officer. Apparently there wasn't much crime going on around Parkston. We learned that Lyle had been the youngest elected Sheriff in South Dakota when he was 22 years old. He also said he knew someone interesting we should meet. Doug stopped by later to talk to us, and we learned that he had started the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain. What is it with people introducing us to interesting restaurant chain starters?
As night closed in, the park got much more traffic, but everyone was gone by dark. We set up our tent underneath the park shelter just to keep the bugs out. Around midnight, a group of loud teenage boys came to hang out in the park and talk boisterously about sneaking out at getting drunk. I then remembered Lyle telling us about a Youth home for juvenile criminals nearby. It was the first time on this trip that I have ever feared for my belongings on my bike. I stayed awake watching our bikes and wishing Lyle would drive by for an hour or so until the kids left, then went back to sleep. A few hours later another car drove by (maybe around 4 AM), honked, and someone inside yelled "Good Morning!" at us out the window. When Karen woke MinWah and I up a few hours later to tell us she was leaving to beat the heat, we were groggily confused that morning had come and we hadn't even noticed that she was up and packing.
Parkston, SD to Larchwood, IA
MinWah and I got out of the park about an hour after Karen, and we met up with her for lunch 45 miles later at Parker. On the way, someone yelled at us out their car window, "Hey, are you headed to Rock Rapids?" We yelled back "yes!" and he said he would see us there. RAGBRAI was in the air. At the gas station in Parker, I heard that we were once more on the tails of the Father/ 3 daughters group who we had heard about all the way through Oregon and Washington. We had a rather uneventful, pleasant ride from Parker to Souix Falls, where we had planned to stay the night. We stopped at a gas station to call some connections we had in Souix Falls, only to find that the Bike Whisperer's friend he had told us to call lived in the middle of a construction zone that we would have had to carry our bikes through, and Vera, the woman who had stopped us on the road wasn't picking up her phone. After a snack and some bribing of MinWah, we decided to do a century day, just for the fun of it. Immediately when we got back on the road, a strong wind whipped up at our faces. Souix Falls was a complete mess, since it seemed they had decided to do road construction everywhere in the city instead of working in one area until it was done then starting somewhere else. We had lots of construction dust blown into our faces, and had to go on lots of detours, but finally we made it out of the city back onto nice roads. Fighting the headwinds, we were very tired and very hungry by the time we crossed the South Dakota/Iowa border near Larchwood. We kept going by thinking of the dinner we would treat ourselves to when we reached town. Sadly, all of the restaurants in Larchwood were closed when we got there, so we pigged out at the gas station, which luckily had subs and pizza and fried things to eat. Larry, the guy in charge at the gas station, told us that we probably weren't supposed to sleep in the park, but we could sleep in his back yard. His daughter, Heather, came to get us, we set up our tent among the fireflies, and slept like little babies all night long.
Larchwood to Rock Rapids, IA
This morning we slept until we woke up. I even got out of the tent before Karen (amazing!) We set off to finish the last 15 miles to Rock Rapids and rolled into town before 9:30. The first people we talked to in a gas station said "You're early!" It feels great to be in RAGBRAI country. While riding through the cornfields on the way here, I had the thought that Iowa smells like love and happiness...when you aren't downwind of a hog farm. We found the Community Affairs Center and the women there quickly offered up their houses. We will be staying at Elisha's house until Saturday when we will meet up with the rest of Team Roadshow at Paul's parent's house. Four days off a bike will be good for our poor butts, and interesting since we have all forgotten what one does when they aren't spending all day on a bike.
Yesterday I talked to Seager and he said that he had worked out another month with his landlord. He and Kendra will be here for RAGBRAI, and he'll stay on to finish the rest of the trip with us. HOOTINANNY! SHOOT 'EM UP! We will be happy to have him back.
Yeehaw, RAGBRAI here we come! I look forward to seeing many of you soon.
Until next time, baa maa pii,
PS. I finally was able to finish a photo update. Enjoy!
Replies: Leave us a note! (1)
Hi, girls. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow in Hartley. I think I gave you my phone # 712-928-2473. Cell phone is 712-212-1773. I've finally found your journaling and have been reading some of it. You've had some interesting things happen. See you tomorrow. Janet Branson
Posted by Janet Branson @ 07/21/2007 08:43 AM CST
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