Downpours, Downed Trees, Bridge Crossings and Iowa Hills

July 14, 2021
July 14, 2021 Shevonne

Downpours, Downed Trees, Bridge Crossings and Iowa Hills

“You will never get through the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska with those tires,” said another cyclist we had met back on the Mickelson Trail in SD. “It’s now quicksand because of extensive flooding in 2019.” We were extremely disappointed as we had been focused on cycling multiple miles on the Cowboy Trail. Resourceful as we have become, we punted, rented a 10-foot U-Haul truck in Chadron, drove through the Sand Hills and dropped the truck off in Lincoln. After a night’s rest, we were back on the Great American Rail Trail, destination Omaha.

We headed east on the MoPac Trail (the old Missouri Pacific Railroad) through Lincoln, stopping for lunch in Eagle minutes before a thunderous washout kept us from moving forward. And then a subsequent downpour caused us to attempt to stay in a local park until a neighbor gave us a thumbs-down. Onward we went to South Bend, to a brand-new campground, called the Omaha Campsite, complete with a horse, several goats, chickens and a Great Pyrenees. The owner, Corey Price, was thrilled to have us as his first paying customers. “I am going to frame this $20 bill and hang it on the wall,” he said.  And, after a somewhat soggy night, Corey showed up in his golf cart the next morning with a thermos of coffee and some goat’s milk soap.

Heading towards Omaha from Corey’s, we crossed the recently renovated Lied Bridge over the Platte River before the real fun began. There was the road, closed for construction, that we needed to cycle through – a bad move as our bicycles and our shoes got covered in mud. Then we got a bit confused because of the lack of trail signage and thought we were going west when we were really going northeast. Lastly, having dismissed the idea that even though two days earlier Omaha had sustained severe thunderstorms, 95-mile an hour winds and that 200,000 homes were without power, we would be able to cycle right into the city we discovered that was too optimistic. The trails were covered with downed trees, requiring plenty of bicycle carries and debris removal. Upon our very late arrival, we were welcomed to Omaha by Christopher Schmidt, our second “Warm Showers” host on this trip. He rolled out the red carpet, making us a scrumptious dinner and shared plenty of cycling stories. Because we inevitably are next to a freight train, either when camping or staying in a motel, we asked Christopher if he lived near the train tracks. “I work for the Union Pacific Railroad,” he said. Does that count? And as usual, we heard at least one freight train go by in the midst of the Omaha night.

Monday morning, we found our way to Council Bluff, IA, crossing the Missouri River on the impressive Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.  You may have noticed my fascination with bridges. That’s because I majored in Civil Engineering. In the middle of the bridge, we crossed into Iowa, my first time ever in this state. Being from the East Coast, my stereotypical image of Iowa is that it is flat.

Monday’s journey solidified that as we made our way some 30 miles over flat terrain to Underwood.  And then we turned right onto the Magnolia Road.  Oops, big hill staring at us! Since it was already 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and there was a truck stop motel in front of us, we opted to bag the last 20 miles we had planned and rented a room.

I spent hours planning our travels for the next few days and today, Tuesday, we rode over 40 miles, from Underwood to Lorah. The trip featured hill, after hill, after hill. Iowa is not flat! This area undulates up and down like a sine wave.  Along the way, we passed through Neola, Minden and Avoca, all towns that were established when the Rock Island railroad was built. And then there was Walnut, a town of 745 people, whose main street is lined with numerous antique shops and pretty much nothing else. Oh, and we saw fields and fields of corn and soybeans. Now, that’s the Iowa I was expecting.

During the heat of the mid-afternoon, as were we fighting the hills on a gravel road, a woman named Teri stopped her car and asked if I was okay. I told her I was fine but the hills were beginning to get to me. “Come up to my place and I will provide you with some chilled water,” she said. Of course, that meant one more hill climb but it was the best water I’ve tasted this whole trip.

Tomorrow we’ll be back on a rail trail, thank goodness, riding the T-Bone Trail.

Follow us as we spin our wheels

Pat and Shevonne






Comments (20)

  1. Jeff Ricciardi

    Great going guys, glad to hear of details of the epic. Shevonne you will have enough material for a book. The U-Haul was a great idea. Keep it up! Jeff

    • Shevonne

      Yes, the U-Haul strategy worked like a champ. We’ll keep it up. Onward and eastward!

  2. Bobby-Jo H Salls

    What/where is that statue of (looks like slenderman made out of tinfoil!)? Cooper would love that. He’s always making figures out of my tinfoil – I say stop wasting my tinfoil and he says “it’s art!” 🙂

  3. kathy bollerud

    You guys are totally awesome! Can’t believe you are doing this.

    • Shevonne

      Thanks. Sometimes I can’t believe that we are doing this!

  4. Bill Zekas

    I’m so impressed with your resourcefulness and fortitude! Ride on!

    • Shevonne

      Thanks, Bill. We certainly have learned how to be flexible and adjust. My decades of construction project management has probably helped!

  5. Pat & Shevonne….

    Thank you for the mention and was wonderful to make your aquaintance. You guys are a wonderful couple and your smiles are contagious. Hope this trip finds nothing but safety and fun and we look forward to the next time you pass through town.

    Corey & Stacey Price

    • Shevonne

      Corey and Stacey,
      We have been taking full advantage of your goat’s milk soap every night. Great to meet you all and your menagerie. All the best with your campsite. We certainly will continue to suggest it as a place to stay while near Omaha.

      Shevonne and Pat

  6. Raffaele Cardone

    That last photo is right out of Field of Dreams! Nice update – pedal on!

    • Shevonne

      Hi Raffaele,

      Yes indeed, it’s Field of Dreams here for sure. Ever been to the movie location? I have several years ago on a different cycling trip.


    • Shevonne

      Glad you are enjoying reading about our travels. There’s something new and different every day.


  7. Manny

    I admire your persistence. Did you ever imagine that you would encounter so many challenges?

    • Shevonne

      We certainly did not consider all of these challenges in advance. And they will keep on coming I am sure.

      Shevonne and Pat

  8. Kris

    From the comfort of my deck in the bright sunshine with my morning coffee, I admire your stamina! Like reading about Greek gods!

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