Posts Tagged ‘Rails-to-Trails’

Having survived the downpours of Saturday and refreshed ourselves with an outstanding meal the night before, Bill’s ready to leave for the last half of the trail, from Custer to Deadwood.  Although there’s water sitting in the parking lot of the motel, the sky is mostly clear, the temperature lovely.  After he loads the bike and all his goodies, I drive him to the trail head where yesterday’s ride ended.  He’s off with the ease of just getting started.  I head back to town to look for sandwiches for lunch.

At the far end of the main street, I find the only large grocery store in town.  My meandering brings me to bulk dark chocolate-covered malt balls.  I quickly put some in a bag.  Most places only carry milk chocolate malt balls, so I’m filled with joy at the score. There are also (my initial objective) some rather nice pre-made sandwiches that look as though they’re homemade.  Even better, the price is excellent.

Next stop, a bakery spotted the night before.  Resisting apple fritters the size of the wheel of a tricycle, (why did I do that??), I buy a freshly-made glazed doughnut. (No picture, I ate it too fast and discover only after breakfast that I have glaze all over my chin!)   Have to have something to last until breakfast, which is at least 5 minutes away.  It turns out to be longer, as an older man sitting in front of his room, engages me in conversation.  I have to walk away but after breakfast, he and his half-brother are both out, so it takes a bit more time to get past.


Michelson Trail‘s 109 miles run between Edgemont, South Dakota and the much more famous Deadwood.  If you want to do a bike ride, you couldn’t do better than to ride this immaculately-kept trail with its gorgeous scenery.  For $3/day or $15/year, it’s a bargain.  Be prepared for all sorts of weather and all types of animals.  Bill carried bear spray which he fortunately didn’t have to use, but he did spot a rattlesnake, as well as other, non-lethal animals.  The trail is part of the Rails-to-Trails system, where the old Union Pacific track has been turned into a trail for walkers, bikers, and horseback riders.  By the way, one of the major funding sources for Rails-to-Trails is under attack.  Although I’m not for frivolous spending, especially when debt is mounting, this is a worthwhile effort.  If you live in the US and would like to support the continued funding, go here to send a message to Congress.

Edgemont is one of those small towns that make me wonder what the people who live there do.  There’s one main street, gas stations, a few motels and restaurants, a small library (something I always spot), other businesses, and too many apparently empty houses.  The next morning when I look for lunch items, I discover the small store.  But to do any serious grocery shopping, Hot Springs would be the closest town, I think.  The only other places for groceries are two gas stations, although I do get some surprisingly good and not expensive sandwiches at one.  The economy is obviously not robust.

The woman at the motel recommends several restaurants and we choose the one that she says has good burgers.  It’s a small bar in the style of an English pub, not in decor, but where families are welcome.  Although they’re out of some things, we get some tasty craft beer from Alaska and order burgers with bleu cheese and bacon.  Although the cheese turns out to be bleu cheese dressing, the beef and bacon are both excellent.  But the star of the meal is the homemade chips, crisp and delicious!


The Wabash Trace Nature Trail, running through southwest Iowa from Council Bluffs to Blanchard near the border with Missouri, is 63-mile route converted from a railroad right-of-way.  Although the trail is new to me, I’ve been familiar with the song by Johnny Cash since my father used to sing it around the house, evoking the glamor of train travel in the days before Amtrak.

 “The trail’s roots go back to the Wabash Railroad, which was one of the most important connections between the farmlands, factories and people of the American heartland and points east in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Indeed, the railroad is perhaps best known for the “Wabash Cannonball,” a passenger train that connected St. Louis to Detroit and was enshrined in a popular song from the early 1900s.”

My experience with the trail has been much more plebian and certainly slower.  While visiting our older daughter in Shenandoah, Iowa, one of the towns through which the Trace runs, I went there for my morning walk.  The wind was as chilly as that at home, although what surrounds the Trace is very different from that of my park in a Chicago suburb!  Here there was a cemetery, fields (both harvested and with corn still waiting on the stalk), windmills of the kind on my grandparents’ farm, not the enormous, sleek high-risers of today, and other rural surroundings.  My walk, however, was as calming to the soul and as good for the body, which is, after all, why I walk.

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