Since leaving Valentine, the towns have been flying by. Exotic places like Sparks, Norden (of the two, one had a store), Springview (public campground next to a golf course where the fairways were brown and the greens were sand), Burton, Mills, Butte (in Butte I was going to camp in a city park but rain and wind chased me to a hotel at 9:30 PM), Spencer, Bristow (in Bristow I went in what I thought was a grocery store but it turned out to be a meat and used clothing store. As it was Friday the 13th, I beat a hasty retreat before I became the daily special). Lynch (a town with 2 bars, a grocery store, movie theater, but no ATM), Minowi (population 1), Verdel, and finally Niobrara, the last town in Nebraska for me. From there I crossed to South Dakota.
South Dakota has had it's share of fun names too. But somehow, it's different. Also, although there are a lot of roads, everyone is using the same one (the one with pavement). In Beresford, a stranger started talking to me with the usual questions. After about a minute, he said the town campground was closed but I could camp in his yard if I wanted. Lacking a better option, I said sure! Yard became porch; a nice 3-season porch with a tv and a jukebox and a fan... And the stranger became Donnie, a mail-carrier who has done the RAGBRAI two or three times in the past and may do it again this year. Thanks, Donnie.
As I got closer to RAGBRAI, I've actually encountered other riders heading there and the locals are more likely to have heard of it. One of the things I'm looking forward to: with 10,000 other people riding bikes, I'm much less likely to get stared at like a space alien when I go, well, anywhere.
And Thursday morning I arrived in Sioux Center. A couple days early, but I can deal with that. Sunday starts the big ride, and a week later I'll be in a car for the first time since June 1st. Then I'll be on a train (first time since 2006) and 48 hours after that I'll be back in Seattle. And the adventure continues from there.