Mon Aug 4 11:27:57 CDT 2003
Welcome to the West -- Hastings, NE

I wound up hanging around Anita long enough that I had to camp there Wednesday evening. I didn't mind. It was a beautiful little town, and there was a very nice state park right in town.

I spent Thursday the 30th spent riding into Omaha. It was a fairly long ride, but I had good weather. The traffic was a little rough going into town, since Route 6 became a major highway on the way in. It was made worse by poor visibility since the sun was starting to go down. As soon as I crossed the Missouri I got off of 6 and onto city streets. There was a park to the North along the river where I intended to stay that night. I wanted to spend the night in Omaha, because I had arranged for two packages to be sent to a UPS store there, to arrive on Friday.

I spent quite a while meandering gradually North, spent some time riding through the rougher neighborhoods (not too much time), and finally found JJ Pershing Road, which took me out past the airport and up, eventually, to the park. It was getting pretty late by this time, and I was very glad when I found a bike path that paralleled the road.

Shortly after getting on the bike path, though, I noticed that my rear tire was flat. I couldn't ride any further like that, and if I stopped to patch it, it would be full dark by the time I got to the park. So I just pulled alongside the bike path and set up camp there. It seemed late enough that not many people would come by. The main problem with the site, actually, was that it was tremendously muddy. Anywhere I wanted to walk, there was thick, sticky, clayish mud. It wasn't a problem for camping, since I was going to set up my hammock anyhow, but my bike tires and brakes became completely caked with mud from rolling the bike through it. The next day I actually had to take the wheel off of my trailer to chip dried mud from the fender.

Friday morning I got up and rode back Downtown. It seemed like a much shorter trip than it had the night before. Omaha had a rather disappointing downtown. There wasn't much to see. I gave a woman some money to buy a bagel and she said "Bless you. Bless you! You will receive a blessing." I don't know if I believe in blessings, but as Lewis Carroll said "If I say it three times, it's true." And it did come true the next day.

It took a while for me to figure out the street plan of Omaha, but I eventually found the UPS Store I was looking for. Thankfully, they had my packages. They contained the parts and frame for my old bike, a Linear Mach III (it doesn't go that fast, I've tried). The Linear had a bent support in the back, and I had brought it to The Bicycle Man in Alfred Station NY to be fixed before I left. Unfortunately they couldn't get it done before I wanted to leave, so I found the BikeE online at a good price, and rode that until Omaha. But the Linear is what I really wanted to be riding. There were a couple moments where I thought I was missing some key piece and all my efforts were in vain, but eventually everything turned up and I got it put together. Then I had to disassemble the BikeE and pack it up in the same boxes to mail home. The whole time I was working on it (about 3 hours), the women from the hair salon next door kept coming outside for their smoke breaks and asking how the bike was coming along.

More later, I'm getting kicked off.