The sun poured through my shutters and woke me up around 7. With another fairly short day ahead of us there was no rush. I was feeling kinda hungry, but, after a little bit of reading and checking emails on my Kindle, rolled over and went back to sleep as I couldn’t hear any signs of C stirring coming from her room. After the nap and breakfast we ended up being ready to go around 10, C was a bit faster than me and when I went outside to put my bags on the bike found her talking to 2 of the hired help (Beau & Kent) that worked on the farm we were staying on. They were working with the horses and I could see what was coming, C had never ridden a horse and had been eager to do so. When she mentioned it to these guys they immediately went to get the horse that they let children ride, put a saddle on and after being shocked at C’s lack of jeans had her jump up.

C on horse riding

It was good fun. I was glad to get the opportunity to ride a horse. I’d been dying to ride one for years and would have gone for a much longer ride if you (Dominic) hadn’t been chomping at the bit to leave. I was in the capable hands of the ranch hand’s wife’s horse who was accustomed to taking novices out for rides.

I videoed a few minutes of her riding but when she headed off in to the distance I let her go off and went to make sure everything was on my bike and ready to go. The wind was starting to pick up a little and I was eager to go before it got too strong. We were told early in the trip that the wind seems to get stronger after 10:30-11 and it definitely seems that way. That is the main problem on short days when we have late starts. On the off chance it’s a tail wind, which has only been noticably there during a few days of South Dakota, it’s wonderful, but if it’s a side or headwind it makes things much harder.

Between Lavina and Harlowton there were two small towns, Ryegate and Shawmut. We pulled in to Ryegate at about 13:15 and asked about water down the road. The lady at the register told us that if we did the approximately 15 miles to Shawmut by 2pm we could get some more water there, otherwise there was nothing until Harlowton 30 miles later. Even if we’d skipped lunch, we wouldn’t have been able to make it there with the headwind so we sat down for a relaxing lunch of a can of overpriced condensed soup.

The 30 miles from Ryegate were not that fun. Headwinds do a good job of sapping energy and even though it made it not feel that hot, the sun was quite strong. It’s times like this that I’m glad that I have my iPod. A combination of podcasts, music and my Spanish lessons have helped me a lot and so it proved again. Even if I’m not listening to anything, I often have my earphones in when it’s windy to hide the noise of the wind. It’s a small thing and thanks to my glorious mirror, I’m still aware of traffic, but it being quieter makes it feel less windy.

Our first port of call in Harlowton was the grocery store where I went inside to find us something for dinner. By the time I had come out, C had a big bag of trail mix that a lady she had spoken to had given to her. The kindness that comes our way, at least in part because people seem to think that C needs to be fattened up, is always greatly appreciated and the food would make for good snacks on the road the following day.

We went to the nearby church, but got no answer. Next was the police station where we went in and were told that there was a place to camp near the river and, surprisingly given the source, that chances are we’d be gone before the person came round to ask for fees so we could probably camp for free. That seemed a good place, but there was a church on the way so we figured we might as well ask there. We knocked and got no answer but heard a voice from across the street asking us if we needed any help. We turned around to see a woman called Renee who was in the garden of the house across the street.

We walked over and explained our situation. She said while we couldn’t camp in her garden as it had just had been treated that if we didn’t mind sleeping in beds we could stay in the house we were outside. It had belonged to her mother who had recently passed. She was working on cleaning it out but there were a couple of bedrooms upstairs and the house was ours for the night if we wanted. Wowed by her offer we gladly accepted and got taken on a tour of not only that house but her house across the street and her brother’s house next to that. She even mentioned that with her brother out of town we could have seperate houses if seperate bedrooms wasn’t enough. We didn’t take her up on that but her willingness to help was simply phenomenal.

After cleaning up Renee took us to her favourite local eatery to get some dinner, even though we later found out she had already eaten. She wanted to go anyway to drink and meet a friend of hers who works there. We were feeling tired after dinner, so she dropped us back home to sleep and then went back out to enjoy the evening. We fell asleep both amazed by Renee and not knowing what the next day would have in store.

House tour

C riding