“I’d Rather Have Hail Than A Tornado”

By all means, our time in Wall, SD should have been short. We got to the stayover late (9 pm) and were ready to go on time (7 am), but the weather of Wall could not let us go. Upon mid-mosher a thunderous storm intruded on our day. Luckily, the team was able to retreat to the notorious, almost mythical Wall Drug. And once we entered Wall Drug, not many wanted to leave. Keychains, shirts, postcards, 5 cent coffee, and donuts so good you had to have at least two of them were all common items sought by the team. Finally, after a 4 hour rain delay the team was able to depart in clear skies, but not for long. After the first rest stop the team waited out a second storm; nothing too serious of weather, but also nothing any of the team wanted to ride through on a 60 mile day. So, the team stayed in a church that was just let out of mass and ate the normal PB&J lunch.


After a prolonged rest, the groups headed off again in hopes that the bad luck with the weather would end, but compared to what was ahead of us it was only starting. Between mile 30-35, each group stopped in various barns because of the grey clouds to the right and the impending rain that could be seen to the left. To say it rained would be an understatement and an insult to the term rain. It poured. It came down hard. Cats and dogs were everywhere. In a matter of minutes after finding shelter, golf ball sized hail and lightning surrounded the team. Though this type of weather would be frightening to many, after 35 days on the road, the storm was nothing. Many people on the team rested, played games, conversed, and napped as what seemed like an impending dooms day surrounded us. After about 20 minutes the sun came back out, the skies cleared up, and all of the hail had melted. We were back on the road.


At the last rest stop, the whole team reconvened and continued westward. Surprisingly, after the eventful stop-and-go day, getting to Rapid City was a breeze. Everyone arrived to the church on time, but there was one surprise left in the day. The couple that a few of our teammates had met earlier at the first rest stop had invited us for dinner! Again, the amount of generosity and kindness we have encountered through this trip has been amazing. At The Merchan family’s house, we were treated to an amazing, homemade South Dakota barbecue for all of the riders. Thank you so much for treating us like family, and offering your home and food for all of us! The time with The Merchans concluded the night for the team and we returned for a restful day off in Rapid City, SD.


Comments (1)
  • Gayle Winters says:

    I too am so amazed at all the kindness strangers have shown the Illini 4000! It makes me want to be a better person and reach out to others. All the bad in the world today can seem overwhelming at times, but following the Illini’s journey has brought out a lot of good left in the world. God Bless America and the Illini 4000!!! <3

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