Several days behind, here is the latest.
I left prairie by way of the road. Surprisingly, there were several options for leaving Prairie. I headed for the town of Pine. Everyone who heard that was my route of choice expressed concern over "that hill." I'd already found out the hill was after the town, and the pavement began in Pine. So I wasn't too worried. Maybe I should have been.
To get to Pine I took a lightly traveled but well maintained 26 mile dirt road. Spectacular scenery along the way. In Pine I stopped at the only cafe, fortunately it promised to be biker friendly. In my case, that only requires large portions.
You have to be careful, though. All those cafes are bars, sometimes when the sign says "biker friendly" you can be surprised to find them full of burly men in tight leather pants with the butt and crotch cut out. I may be wearing lycra shorts, but that is too friendly for me!
The road out of Pine did live up to the dire warnings. It wasn't too steep to ride, but it was enough to require my lowest gear and I think I pedaled up it for over an hour.
Back on the main road, I made my way to the town of Hill City. There was one store, which was also a bar, and promised live music. After noticing a mule tied up next to the bar, I went inside. Instead of a bell to announce someone entering the store, I heard the one of the members of the band yell out that "there's a biker in the store and he probably wants carbs." He was close. What I really wanted to know was if there was anywhere to camp.
It was determined that the back yard of the bar was both my best and only option. After changing into regular clothes, I sat at the bar talking to the locals. The band, by the way, was two guys with guitars, one of which was Lyle Evens (sp?). Check him out if you can. And the Hill City Bar, too. Odds are they will adopt you as one of their own as quickly as they did me. How nice were they? Once the bar closed, and the after-hours party wound down, they decided it was too cold to sleep outside and told me I should sleep in the bar. On the pool table would have been a good choice. On the stage might have been a good choice. On the floor was probably not the best choice. But by the time the party wound down, I was not putting lots of thoughts into my sleeping spot. I wanted to stay and say goodbyes, but I also wanted to get some miles in. So if you're reading this, Hill City Bar cast and crew, thank you again for all the hospitality.