RA44: Great River Camping

Snake River Rec Area SD to Randall Creek Campground SD

I slept great last night at Snake Creek Rec Area and woke up refreshed.  We packed up and retraced back up the 3 mile hill to climb out of the river valley, then headed east on SD44.  Dark gray clouds hung overhead as a moderate headwind came directly at us from the east.  The riding conditions for the last few days certainly haven’t been favoring us.

I fell into my “infinity” mode, spinning along at a comfortable pace for the headwinds, while Jack seemed again to tackle them in better fashion.  He covered the 14 miles in to Platte SD only a minute or two before the rains let loose.  I was not so lucky, and was foreced to stop, locate my rain gear and put it on, which of course probably took more time than it would have taken to reach town.  And of course I got drenched anyway.

Small spillway on SD46 near Platte SD

We had breakfast at a place that was suggested to us by two Platte residents, at Shorty’s Café and Bar.  When our server came around Jack ordered a couple of eggs and a bowl of oatmeal (both on the menu) and our server stopped him immediately and told him that the oatmeal order was not allowed.  She explained in no uncertain terms that anyone could make oatmeal at home and it just wasn’t right to order it in a great breakfast place like this one.  Jack kept going, “But, I want oatmeal.  I’m on a bike…” to no avail so he ended up with a pancake.   Incidentally, pancakes here were a good 7.5 on the Kimmie scale.

A 9 mile eastward segment from Platte took us straight into the rain and headwind.  I almost prefer this to straight wind – it is at the very least more interesting.  I used my jacket, helmet cover, shoes covers, and yellow glasses.  I also tried the Rain Legs over my bare legs for the first time and they worked very well.

Donning rain gear in Platte SD

South to the town of Geddes.  We made a brief loop down Main Street just because I wanted Jack to see this place.  Just like I remembered it – a ghost town.  No convenience stores.  One old gas station.  A few agriculture businesses.  One bar not yet open.  And dozens of empty decaying buildings.  One thing strange was that there were more parked cars than should be.  But where are the people and what are they all doing?

The rains finally let up but the winds did not.  We slogged another 8 miles east from Geddes, slowly climbing as we did.  My scrawled map said to take county route 20 south after around 9 miles, but at the 7.5 mile mark we found a route labelled 29.  We stopped for about a minute studying our maps, and must have looked like Dumb and Dumber, because the first car along slowed and asked if we needed directions.   People are really friendly around here.

This is one reason photos are difficult to take during the ride
This is another

South into the town of Lake Andes.  The only possible reason we could think of to stop here was ice cream, so at the first convenience store we asked a customer about it.  He pointed us across the street to Moe’s Place.  Yes!  One large vanilla milkshake for me + one hot fudge sundae for Jack = two happy cyclists.

Moe's Place - Lake Andes SD

A final quick 6-mile roll south to Pickstown and Fort Randall Dam areas.  We found Bill and Gary at a restaurant.  Bill had, of course, been here for hours, having especially hammered away at the winds today.  That guy is strong!  He’d already scoped out camping at the Randall Creek Campground, part of the Army COE recreation site.  I soon headed over to Abby’s Café.  This was the source of last year’s “Six Mile Chicken,” and so represented known good eats for me.  In fact, knowing that Abby’s was here had had me experiencing a chicken fit for most of the afternoon.

So here I sit, once again in my comfy green pod.  The chicken (and fries and salad) was marvelous, but not quite as good as last year’s.   The campground is very pretty and well kept.  Tonight we met a fellow tenter who has canoe’d down the Missouri River all the way from Fort Peck Lake in eastern Montana (we rode just north of it), intending to reach the Gulf.  However, he is ending his journey here because the river is closed to all recreational vehicles south of here for more than 600 miles.  That’s too bad, but what a cool trip.

Yet another beautiful campsite at Randall Creek Campground

Our 55 miles today felt like about 70 because of the headwinds, so maybe the guys are right about the neverending 70 milers.   Gary is experiencing some nagging fatigue that was brought on by that day of horrors riding to Whitlock, and he feels he hasn’t recovered.  He, and possibly Bill, may be taking a direct route east tomorrow on SD46 to Yankton, about 65 miles.   The purpose of doing so is create two straight rest days so he can recharge.  Sounds like a good plan unless the winds continue from the east.  We shall see.

Jack and I will probably take our planned 2 riding days from here to Yankton, stopping in Springfield, then stopping in Yankton for a rest day ourselves.   I continue to love so many aspects of this tour, despite some of the challenging riding conditions.  And I am seeing Jack get quite strong  as a cyclist – there are times I can’t keep up with him.