We were running against the wind … Against the wind … I found myself seekin’ shelter against the wind.—From Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” (1980)
It was 26F when we left North Platte this morning. The wind-chill was 16F (-9C). I’m insensitive to cold. Jeffrey tolerates it well, but today was painful even for him.
The road north was mostly good.
But for 66 miles, until the road made a sharp turn at the outskirts of Thedford, the Great Plains wind pressed us backward. It was like pedaling uphill.
We didn’t stop often for photos. Jeffrey’s hands got too cold. And the scenery didn’t vary much.
Thirty miles on, Jeffrey was so cold that we stopped near Stapleton to warm up at a gas station convenience store.
Arlen, a regular customer, noticed our trike and struck up a conversation.
Arlen taught Jeffrey important things about farming, the Ogallala Aquifer, the Sandhills, the decline of the town of Stapleton, and what to expect on the road north. They talked about grandchildren, and about wonderful spouses. (Arlen is a widower.)
Jeffrey asked whether there is a local labor shortage. Arlen said that a nearby feedlot (where cattle are fattened before slaughter) employs lots of Mexicans and South Africans. That led to a discussion of how hard it is for American employers to hire foreign workers. Arlen said that government should keep its hands off everything. (It’s unlikely that he meant we should have open borders.) Jeffrey gently mentioned agricultural price supports. Arlen allowed that there are good programs that have been corrupted by a few greedy farmers and by politicians who pretend to farm so they qualify for subsidies. Arlen and Jeffrey agreed that while there are bad apples in every barrel, most people (including unauthorized immigrants) are good.
Jeffrey came away with a better understanding of farm issues. We hope Arlen came away knowing that asylum applicants aren’t lawbreakers and that many immigration “problems” result from a mismatch between our laws and real-world common sense. Arlen and Jeffrey wished one another well and parted as friends.
Except in the convenience store, the restaurant, and the motel, we saw no one today who wasn’t in, or walking to or from, a motor vehicle. On the road, no one but us was exposed to the elements.
Our discomfort today, and on recent days too, is a reminder of how easy is our city life in the gentler climate of the U.S. northeast.
It helps us understand what Great Plains residents put up with to help feed and fuel the world.
And it gives us a tiny little taste of migrants’ plunge into the unknown.
Hi Jeffrey- I have been reading about your and Joey’s successful battles with the elements (with and without help) with admiration. Glad you’re able to keep on triking! Also heartened that for the most part you meet such generous hearted people. You and Joey make a dynamic duo.
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Thank you for sharing your adventures. Zena
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Wow. Tough riding. Too much wind in the wrong direction.
you’re truly amazing. Much more challenging than backpacking.
We had an interesting discussion last nite on specialized schools in NYC. We’re hoping something constructive comes out of it with members of WES.