Day 44: The longest day on the longest day — Pierre, SD to Huron, SD. June 21.

Daily miles – 123. Total miles – 2651.
Happy Solstice everyone! We celebrated by riding 123 miles from Pierre to Huron! Why? Well, we got to FINALLY enjoy a serious tailwind today. Also, the terrain was really flat with a net elevation drop of a few hundred feet. Mercy. There were stretches where we maintained 25 mph for nearly an hour! We felt rested and refreshed after the day off and just let the wind take us away! I guess Earl the weather god is finally acknowledging brother Joshua’s selfless offering of bourbon. Thanks brother!

We were awakened around 1am by a huge heat-lightning display accompanied by massive winds through the campground. The lid to our cookkit took a ride, but Chandra found it. The tarp over the bike made alot of noise so we had to secure it and then re-stow the cooking gear out of the wind. Nice thing about a Bibler tent, though….once we got inside, we didn’t have a worry in the world. It flexed in the wind but not even close to a problem (I think gusts were up to 35 or 40 mph). It started raining around 4am, so we were slow to rise, letting it diminish. So, it was nearly 10 am before we got on the road to climb out of the Missouri river valley.

A new feature joined the lanscape today! We lost most topographic relief, but gained trees!! Now, the terrain looks almost exactly the same as Southern Minnesota. Also, when we tell people we are heading to Madison, WI via St. Peter, MN, they know BOTH places. This all leads to an even stronger sense of approaching the familiar. …which leads us to reflect how many ecosystems, landscapes, differences in culture we have been through on this journey. It reminds us how far we have travelled. We are not the same people that set off across the Golden Gate bridge on May 9. Our concerns are not the same as they were then. Much of our lives will return to the roles, routines, and ideals of that time, but we are closer, more resourceful, and so at peace with the world now.

Approaching our new home, with St. Peter being the real beginning of the end of the journey, the air smells like childhood summers. The cool morning dew, the hot afternoons, thundershowers, wind. It’s all different than th coasts and mountains. Our emotions are mixed – we want to accomplish our goal and complete the journey, but we also never want the journey to end. I guess, in some sense, it never will end. It may pause, but we have changed who we are and what we do from here on out. It’s exciting. Sleep, however, is also exciting! With bellies full of past puttanesca I made with anchovies, olives, onions, garlic, and tomatoes seasoned with chilli flakes and cayenne, followed by fresh blueberries, it is time to dream.

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