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Heartwarming Small-Town Romances and Thrilling Mysteries


One of the purposes of our summer sojourn was camping near bicycle trails that Hubby could mark off his list of places to ride. He made the campground reservations according to which places were closest to the trails.

Notice I said his list of trails. I limit myself to riding only trails that are not on streets. Rail trails are my favorite because they are away from vehicle traffic. But Hubby feels no intimidation by riding on streets and across town and anywhere he wants to go.

I’ve been on a couple of the trails we camped near: a trail in Spokane, Washington along the Spokane River and the Greenway in Sioux Falls, South Dakota along the Big Sioux River. Both were lovely, paved, relatively flat, off-road trails. Just the way I like them. In both cases, Hubby rode parts of them without me, covering many more miles. In the case of the Spokane trail, I stopped and took photos along the way and when I showed them to Hubby, he asked “where is that?” To me, that statement meant he rarely looks at the scenery, just the mileage. He’s missing out on a lot.

At the same time, I am missing out on a lot too when I don’t go with him. On one of his bike treks out of Oakwood Lake State Park, he rode to the little town of Bruce, South Dakota. The residents in town live on one of three streets: Main, First, and Second. Peaceful, lovely town. There he met a man nicknamed Dub who had worked at a honey mill in Bruce since he was 17. He’s now 73. Dub introduced Hubby to the front office staff which included the owner of the mill. During their conversation, Hubby found out that that honey mill is the largest in the US, with 95,000 hives spread across several states. And they sold raw honey to anyone who brought containers to put it in. So off we went to get canning jars. Initially the hives are smoked to move the large majority of the bees out of the old honey-filled hives and into new empty hives. We got to see the part of the process where they take the honeycomb-filled frames out of the hives and put them onto a conveyor belt where a machine took out the honeycomb and honey. Bees flew around the inside and outside of the door and many more were dead. Those last few bees must have been too loyal to the hive to be driven away. It was sad to see. One bee hitched a ride inside Hubby’s shirt and stung him on the neck later that morning. One last hurrah, I guess. In return for Hubby’s short bout of pain and itching, we got 12 pint jars of fresh raw honey. It is delicious! And we thank the bees for all their work to provide a treat for us.

Hubby also met the curator of the little museum at the Lake Poinsett State Park. The man’s family homesteaded on the banks of the lake and farmed until the present day. As they farmed, all kinds of artifacts were turned over, both manmade (stones) and paleontological (bones). He became the area’s informal, self-educated archaeologist, finding more artifacts and bones on neighbors’ properties. Many of the collected items are displayed in a small museum behind the entrance station. The man is a walking historical dictionary. He has read and researched so many different aspects of archeology and paleontology and can spew them off without stopping for a breath. He also knows the history of the area better than you will find in any book. He gathered his information from a wide range of sources, both written and oral. He ought to be a college professor, but he lacks the sheepskin saying he went through the proper channels to acquire knowledge.


Hubby meets all kinds of people while he’s out riding his bike and hiking. He met a man biking on the Spokane trail and struck up a good conversation and learned where to get some good food. He’s seen wildlife, historical markers, flood water markers, and dead skunks in the middle of the road. How does Hubby do it? Meeting all these people that are so fascinating?

So I am missing out on things. I guess I don’t have the gift of meeting unusual people. Or else I’m too shy to speak up. And I don’t have the gift of riding 40 miles at a stretch. Which means I’m missing out on a lot of scenery and sights. So maybe I should try to speak more to people I meet and I might find that they have interesting stories. And maybe, just maybe, I will try to get into better shape so I can see all kinds of beautiful sights. Other than the dead skunk. I need to find the determination to do it. That’s the really hard part.

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