Starting off the day early, we stomached some coffee from our hotel and got ready quickly. We knew we'd have to get through the first 60 miles without any real town, so we packed some bars and filled our waters and got on the road.
After leaving Martin, we knew we'd be riding along the Rosebud reservation for a good portion of time. The rolling flat terrain made for pretty fast riding, but we wanted to make sure that we got through the area swiftly given the warning we'd received the day before from the woman in Batesland about drunk drivers. Luckily, we barely saw anyone on the road for the morning - just a whole lot of crops growing. We did pass a very fortified-looking building, which we learned fr the sign once we got closer was actually the tribe's Tipi. The next building we saw looked nicer - we guessed it was a school - but it turned out to be an "adult correctional facility." Seemed a little out-of-place...
After leaving the reservation, we finally got to the town of Mission, where we stopped at the Turtle Creek Crossing supermarket to get some food and sit inside the air conditioning for awhile. This place was kinda cool- all the signs (for the aisles, the restrooms, the deli) were in both English and Sioux. We got the backstory on the store later when we were bewildered by the fact that none of the staff knew the prices on anything: apparently the store first opened 6 years ago under the operation of the tribe, but they closed because the tribe was unable to keep it operating. They had just reopened recently under a contracted management.
After soaking in the cold air for awhile, we headed out on our next 40 miles towards the town of Winner. While we had been inside, the temperature had risen a bunch, and combined with the humidity this meant that riding was pretty sweaty. People keep talking about some polar vortex coming back but I'm pretty sure that it's still super hot here. We stayed on highway 18 this whole time, going pretty much due east, in direct sunlight.
When we finally got to Winner, we found te first place that looked like it would have cold drinks and immediately went inside. I wandered the aisles briefly, and came back to the front of the store to find Don and Dave seated on the floor in front of the bread shelf drinking iced tea and eating cookies. Apparently this was allowed, but it definitely attracted attention. Lots of people stopped while we rested on the cool tile floor and talked to us a little.
After Winner, we switched into highway 44 heading east, which quickly disappointed us. We knew we had only 40 additional miles to go for the day, but the road and the continuing heat made it tough. Why the road, you ask? While it's hard to encapsulate in words, the surface of highway 44 heading east from Winner was basically broken up into fragments every 20 to 30 feet. Instead of say, paving the road with asphalt the 55 miles from Winner to Platte, apparently someone decided this would be a better idea. It was as if, instead of buying asphalt for 55 miles, South Dakota saw a deal on eBay for 20-foot fragments of pavement and decided "Oh hey, let's just buy a bunch of those and glue them together! That should work great!" Well, it doesn't. At least not for us. The constant gaps in the pavement over which we were riding did not make for a pleasant time.
Though we could see a storm off to the southeast, we never got any rain during the day, though by the end of our ride I think we all might have appreciated it. After 130 miles, we hit our last 10 miles before the campground and also hit some big hills. As we learned later at dinner (spoiler alert: we made it though the hills), these hills are the ones that trucking companies send their drivers-in-training to from the Sioux Falls area and surrounding states when they want them to learn what the Rockies are like. So, these are big hills.
We finally reached the campground after a nice descent down and across the Missouri River.
The state park is right on the east side of the river, and we quickly showered with some improvised towels (some old handkerchiefs printed with the park schedule from 2011 that the nice park attendants gave us) and headed to dinner across the street at the only place around, called Dock 44.
While we were at dinner, the family at the table next to us stuck up a conversation with us about our ride. Much as most people we meet along this trip are, they were very friendly and even offered to call relatives in Sioux Falls to ask if we could stay with them tomorrow. Whole that sounded like too much of an imposition for us, we appreciated the offer sincerely. The couple and their daughter left after we talked to them a little about how they had relatives interested in long-distance biking, too. Much to our surprise, after they had left, the waitress came up to us and told us that they had paid for our dinner- without even telling us! Definitely the first time that has happened to us on this trip, and it was incredibly generous of them. Thank you, family from Sioux Falls! You made a tough day much better.
After they left, the two couples playing cards at another table came over and also started talking to us about our trip. One of the two men came back a couple minutes later with ice cream for all of us- again, fantastically generous and very appreciated. They stayed and talked to us awhile and gave us advice on our route for the next couple of days. Apparently highway 44 gets less bumpy on this side of the Missouri, so we're excited for that!
After some great info from all the patrons of the restaurant, we headed back to our campground to get some rest. Hoping to recover from our tough 140 miles today with a more normal 120 tomorrow!