Posts tagged Fiction

Custer, Not My Last Stand

by Betsy Finley

After spending the night in Pringle, I got an early start knowing there was a lot to see once I got to Custer South Dakota.  The air was crisp, the sky a crystal blue, and the trees were a lush deep green against the blue, blue sky.  Life was very good and my ride seemed to be speeding by.  I had every intention of going the distance to Custer in one day, but there were just too many distractions.  I know how important it is to continue to stop and smell the roses so I took each opportunity to see what this grand national park had to offer.

I rode into Custer the next day and quickly found a quilt shop to get some fabric to remind me of my time in South Dakota.  I knew Flintstone Village was right down the road, and when one is that close to Fred’s house, one must stop and visit.  It’s a delightful place to take young kids.  I truly enjoyed it myself so I guess I’m still a kid at heart.

As I browsed through the gift shop the cashier asked me if I was that lady riding across the country on a bike.  I told her I was indeed that person, that crazy lady.  She laughed and told me the whole town was abuzz about me.  My first thought was they must not have a lot to do in Custer, but I knew better for Custer is a bustling tourist town with lots and lots to do.  She went on to say the she and a bunch of her friends were going to start biking through the Black Hills and that the local school was using my trip as motivation for several sports programs.  

I was speechless for a moment, but finally found the words to thank her then to ask if there were any tour buses that could take one around to see the sights.  My fear was if I spent too much time sightseeing, I’d get myself so off track that I may have a hard time getting motivated to ride further.  And after what she just told me I knew that this was a ride I had to continue.  It was a very lucky day for me because the cashier told me about Golden Circle Tours of the Black Hills.  She gave me directions, I paid for my trinkets, and I was off to get signed up for a tour of the area.  

And what a tour it was.  This group takes you through the Needles, Iron Mountain Road, Mount Rushmore, Sylvan Lake, and Crazy Horse Memorial.  Best of all they tell you interesting facts about each place that one may never know about if you traveled these hills on your own.  I always knew the Black Hills was full of great places to see, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever take a trip that was so fulfilling.  

I believe the Black Hills is another great place God has given us to enjoy although my heart goes out to those native Indians of years ago when their home, their native land was taken away.  I’m not so sure God was so very happy with Lt. Col. George A. Custer who took this land away from the Indians.  Maybe that’s why he had his last stand 2 years later at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana, but that’s not for me to judge.  I’m just enjoying all that is available to me and thanking God each day for this wonderful life I have.  And the Black Hills will not be my last stand.  

I plan on continuing my journey through the Black Hills, then to Devil’s Tower, up to the Battle of Little Big Horn which seems fitting to see after my tour of Custer.  And having never seen Old Faithful, I’ll have to shoot back into Wyoming to catch a glimpse of this world renowned geyser.  

And as I sit pondering my real life I realize more and more each day how this imaginary bike trip has changed my life for the better.  I spent years hating myself because I wasn’t pretty enough or thin enough or smart enough.  I think it was that day standing on the corner in Aspen when the guy yelled out his car window for me to join Weight Watchers that I realized how shallow people can be.  Not only did I not want to be one of those people who judge people only from the outer shell of a person, but I knew that I was much more of a person than that guy gave me credit for.  It’s this attitude that keeps me biking because this imaginary trip has changed my whole attitude with my work life, personal life, and anything in between. 

My biking has also helped me deal with my mother’s grieving over my father’s death. She had gotten stuck at the depression stage of the grief cycle.  She began having anxiety attacks, lost interest in her favorite passion of cooking, didn’t care much about anything at all.  I was worried that I was beginning to lose her, but since I began this trip, her mood has changed along with mine.  She told me just the other day that she’s excited about Christmas this year, that she felt like a princess at her 80th birthday party, and she’s begun cooking again.  

Maybe my biking had nothing to do with her change, but she’s told me several times since I began biking that she’s happy that I’m happy.  And even though no town knows about some crazy lady riding a bike across the United States, what my imaginary cashier said about the town of Custer building upon my biking trip seems to be true in my life. 

I’m discovering the more positive I am with my own being seems to transfer to others.  It is with that thought that I say I hope this goofy, imaginary trip of mine has helped some readers realize that they are someone great and that this world would not be what it is today without the strength we get from each individual.  May God continue to bless us all, may we all keep our hearts open to God’s word, and let’s keep going the distance.

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Taking the Plunge

by Betsy Finley

My biking has slowed down some and I’d like to say it’s because the Black Hills are so beautiful to look at.  As I ride into Hot Springs, SD my mind wanders back to that trip my family took through the Black Hills years ago when I was about 10 years old.  We’d stopped at a gas station to fill up and I wondered what it would be like to live in a tourist town.  It would be many years later that I would experience that type of life when I moved to Aspen, CO.  But for today, I’m looking at the beauty of the red rocks and Fall River which runs through Hot Springs.  I can almost hear the voices of those people who settled here so very many years ago.  The Sioux and Cheyenne came here for the warm springs.  It wasn’t long before the European settlers discovered the benefits of these  warm spring waters.  Soon after arriving, these settlers made Hot Springs their new home renaming it in 1882 from Minnekahta to Hot Springs.  

It was from these warm spring waters that Evans Plunge was established.  The Sioux and Cheyenne fought fierce battles trying to lay claim to the ownership of these springs.  The Sioux emerged victorious, but in 1876, Colonel W.J. Thornby discovered the source of the warm creek.  He traded his spring to Joe Petty for a horse.  In 1890 Evans Plunge was built by Fred Evans.  Originally it was used as a health cure for many illnesses, but today it’s enjoyed by tourists from all over the world.  

After a quick breakfast at Fall River Bakery, I head down the street to take the plunge at Evans Plunge.  The water was refreshing and I did feel rejuvenated.  I also took in Mammoth Site, did some shopping at the numerous antique and art shops in town, and then decided to head to Wind Cave for a tour there.  

Wind Cave still fascinates me.  I can’t imagine the first people who explored these caves on their own.  Being slightly claustrophobic, I’m always grateful for the tour guide’s ability to get us into the cave and back out of the cave.  Years ago I thought it would have been fun to do a little spelunking, but now I’ll just take the open road on my bike as opposed to crawling around in a cave. Tomorrow I’ll plunge deeper into the Black Hills.  My next destination is Pringle, SD. 

I’ve been through Pringle several times in my life, but I honestly can’t say I know much about this town.  I had an uncle who lived there for some time and had a lumber business while there, but other than that Pringle will just be a rest stop on my way to Custer, SD.

And, as always, I end my blog about my imaginary trip with a bit of realism.  I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family.  I didn’t get as much riding in as I had hoped, but I did manage to get a couple of riding days in.  My family was impressed with my trip and commented on the weight I’d taken off.  I think it’s more that I’m toning my body as opposed to dropping a lot of weight.  I do know that my biking helped me through the hectic Thanksgiving week and I’m happy to be on schedule again.  I hope to be in Spearfish, SD by Christmas.  So may the coming holidays bless you with the courage to go the distance and take a plunge into a new adventure, what ever that may be.  God bless you all.

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Monumental Sights

by Betsy Finley

The beauty of the Pine Ridge is now behind me.  It’s sort of sad to leave this area I feel so close to, but the road is calling to me so my trip continues.  It’s a crystal clear morning and I’m now on my way to the Black Hills in South Dakota.  What an awesome site to see these hills from 60 miles away.  

The scenery surrounding me are these rolling sand hills where I imagine pioneers traveling across in their covered wagons.  I guess these thoughts keep coming to me since I am doing somewhat the same type of trip although they didn’t have the convenience of paved roads to travel on.  My mind also travels to those famous monuments in the Black

Hills that I plan on seeing, but I have to admit that nothing can be more awe inspiring than the monumental sights I’m seeing right now.  God has blessed us all with wonderful scenery that differs from state to state.

After 5 days on the road I’ve finally made it to Oelrichs, South Dakota.  It’s a small community and is named after Harry Oelrichs, a rancher in that area.  I couldn’t find out any more information on this guy, but I figured he must have been quite the rancher/land owner to have a town named after him.  You may be wondering why it took me 5 days to go 32 miles.  

Well, in the real world I’m preparing for the Thanksgiving holidays.  I have family coming in from Nebraska and the Thanksgiving meal responsibility is mostly on my shoulders.  But the good news is I’m still biking, maybe not as far, but the motivation to continue biking through these holiday times is there and I’m going to embrace this phenomenon.  I say it’s a phenomenon because in past years if I was doing any exercising, it fell by the way side due to the extra activities that occurred during the holidays.  It would take me 6 months to get started again, but that won’t be happening this year because I’m more disciplined with this imaginary road trip.  I have a goal and I plan on achieving that goal.  And I know that my continued riding will help me get through the added stress of the holidays. 

So for all of you who may are thinking about taking a break from exercising through the holidays, try shortening your time instead of giving it up.  It’s a lot easier to lengthen the time when the holidays are over then it is to get started again.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all and let’s keep going the distance.

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Back Where My Idea Started

Chadron State Park

by Betsy Finley

 This whole journey started this past June from an idea from a book while vacationing at Chadron State Park.  Well, I’ve biked back to that place and I must say the fall colors are spectacular.  I didn’t expect to find anyone other than a few employees in the park, but I guess there are still people out there who enjoy fall camping.  And they were all so friendly inviting me to dine with them.  As tempting as that was, I was too exhausted to accept the numerous invites.  

Instead, I rented one of the cabins so I could sleep in a real bed.  It was a nice break from the sleeping bag.  That night I sat out on the porch and listened to the wind blowing through the trees.  The peace and tranquility was like Heaven on earth.

As the evening’s chill settled in I went inside and planned the next leg of my journey in the comfort of a heated cabin.  Tomorrow I’ll be backtracking back into town to start my trip to the Black Hills.  I’m excited to be heading there.  I’ve gone through the Black Hills many times, but never on a bike.  I plan on stopping at Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore, Reptile Gardens, and maybe Bear Country.  Well, maybe I won’t do Bear Country since I’m on a bike.  I don’t feel like becoming the bears’ lunch.

After spending about an hour on my trip ticket I ate supper then got ready for bed.  As I lay in my bed I thought about where I had started this trip, where I was headed, but mostly I thought about how thankful I was for all that God has given to me.  

I’ve ridden 506 miles since June 18th which works out to be about 3.56 miles per day.  I guess that’s not a lot of miles per day, but it is 3.56 miles more than I was doing when I started this imaginary journey.  Okay, it wasn’t up and down hills like I would have been doing on a real trip, but I’ve still ridden farther than I’ve ever ridden before.  It feels good to have biked back to where this whole idea was born.  And the memory of that night is still crystal clear in my memory.  I believe God touched upon me that night while lying in the bed in that cabin.  And the benefits of this journey continue to grow.  I can’t say enough how this biking trip has changed my attitude with so many things in my real life.  

My biking has also started influencing others to start some form of exercise.  My sister has begun biking in her own way and I’ve had a few co-workers say they are thinking about doing the same.  Now maybe I can’t take credit for them starting an exercise routine, but in my heart I feel I did touch upon them.  It’s a good feeling knowing that this imaginary ride of mine has influenced some to start exercising.  

I’m thankful I kept my heart open to God’s powerful word and allowed His blessings to touch upon my life.  I pray that we all continue to allow God into our hearts, our souls, and our minds each and every day.  May God bless you all and let’s keep “Going the Distance.”

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The Good Life

Nebraska

by Betsy Finley

Nebraska’s state line signs read “Nebraska, The Good Life”.  Well, I’m back in Nebraska and have just finished eating a portion of my 28 ounce Coffee hamburger at Sioux Sundries in Harrison, Nebraska and I must admit this is truly the good life.  I had the pleasure of talking with an elderly local while waiting for my burger. He shared some interesting stories of the Coffee Ranch and life as it is in Harrison.  His rugged face spoke volumes of the hard work he’d put in while living in this ranching community.  If you listen carefully to stories from the elderly locals and watch the lines on their faces, one  can get a feeling of what life must have been like when this area was first being settled.   It can be a harsh territory, but I truly felt close to God while staying here. 

After a good night’s sleep and a visit to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument which is 28 miles south of Harrison, my trip to Chadron State Park continues.  The next leg of my journey will take me through Fort Robinson State Park.  I’m quite sure I’ll need to spend at least a day there because of all the rich history that surrounds this former Cavalry fort  and then a German POW camp during WWII. And Fort Robinson delivered.  What a neat place Fort Robinson State Park is.  I took many tours through the various buildings that once housed the Cavalry.  I stood on the ground where Crazy Horse was killed.  I rode my bike out to where the WWII POW camp used to be and then out even farther where the Red Cloud Agency was headquartered.  There were times I could almost feel the presence of these soldiers and Indians.  It’s a truly fascinating place.

After spending a day and a half at the Fort, I took an easy 3-mile bike ride into Crawford, Nebraska.  This town, too, has a rich history and is named after a soldier stationed at the Fort.  But to my big delight I found a wonderful quilt store where I was able to buy another stash of fabric for my trip quilt.  The women at this store were very friendly and informative as were the other folks in town.  It made me want to set up home there, but that would mean ending my trip and I’m not nearly ready to do that.  

After a tour through the local winery in Crawford, I ate dinner at the local Dairy Keen which boasts of the best BBQ north of Texas.  I do believe they are correct as I had my fill and still have leftovers for tomorrow.  My time spent in Nebraska so far has truly depicted their state line road sign motto “The Good Life.”  It truly is a good life here and a place I’ll be coming back to.

And after spending the last couple of days in my real life at home due to inclement weather, I ponder on my imaginary biking travels and the time I have actually spent at Fort Robinson and in Crawford.  My biking has been instrumental in making my life more centered, healthier, and happier.  And my memories of actual time spent at Fort Bob and Crawford are fond memories of a quieter life, a life of simplicity where you can walk outside and enjoy what God gives to us each and every day.  I believe it is this same feeling of simplicity I get from riding; a feeling I try to keep in my life so that I, too, can enjoy “The Good Life.”  And, as usual, I hope that all you who are reading this can find “the good life” in your life whatever “the good life” may be to you.  It’s different for all of us, but then we are all different.  May God bless you all and thanks for your continued support.

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Imaginary or Real, It’s All Good

small town

by Betsy Finley

Whew!! I’m glad to have left the Interstate. It seems the back roads are an easier ride from the information on my trip-ticket; the next few towns being a little closer

together. I should be able to make it from town to town for the next few days although, according to my research, the next few towns are barely towns.

My first stop after leaving I-25 was Shawnee, Wyoming, a small unincorporated town. It made for a good rest stop, though. Town number 2 was superb. I spent the night at the

mayor’s home in Lost Springs, Wyoming. You may be wondering how it came to be that I spent the night at the mayor’s house. Well, Lost Springs is a town of 1, the mayor, and is known as the smallest incorporated town in the U.S.

As I rode into Lost Springs I noticed that the only business open was the “Lost Bar”. To my surprise, the mayor was there and was gracious enough to give me a tour of the town which is pretty much the Town Hall, an antique store where I was able to buy a trinket or two, the “Lost Bar”, an outhouse, the old jail, and a few dilapidated buildings that are standing only by the grace of God. It was nice to have spent the night in a real bed and the mayor was a great cook. What a pleasure to have come through this little town of one. Actually a few other people live there, but they were not included in the last census.

With each passing town I meet more and more people who add a little zest to my life. Some give me great history of the surrounding area, stories one would never read in a history book like those stories I heard in Van Tassell, Wyoming where it’s known as a ghost town although people still live there. Others give me tips on where to eat, places to avoid, and will often give me some home cooked food to take with me on my travels.

This is the way to see the United States. There are those people who are suspicious of the stranger in town, that crazy lady riding a bike across the U.S., but for the most part people are great. You just have to open your heart and mind and do a lot of listening. It helps that I’ve researched most towns I go through prior to getting to them. That research helps open those doors in towns where everyone knows everyone.

By next week I should be in Nebraska and will partake in the largest burger in the U.S. at Sioux Sundries in Harrison, Nebraska. I’m sure I’ll need to take a day off from riding after attempting to eat a 28 ounce hamburger. I think I’ll be eating leftovers for a couple of days.

And, as usual, I remind myself that this is my imaginary trip, but allowing my mind to visualize such adventures surely makes the miles fly by on what would have been a boring exercise routine; a routine that would have long been stopped had I not added a little imagination. I feel like a kid again playing imaginary games with imaginary friends. Watch a child play some imaginary game and you’ll see that in their mind it’s all real. Don’t allow the pressures of life drag you down, keep the child in you alive.

You, too, will see a change in your energy, work performance, relationships, and all other facets of life.

May God bless you all and let’s keep going the distance.

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