Odometer at start-up - 1831
Kearney was a big hit with Gates. The hotel, it turned out, had a “water park” - two winding slides to a frothy pool. It was a lot of fun for all of us and a big treat at the end of a hot day. I’m still surprised by the heat here - in was in the 90’s even after we had dinner. The drive took much longer than we figured, so there was no time to take in some of the attractions like Fort Kearney, a stop on the Oregon Trail.
This morning we were up and on the road by 8:15. We figured out that that’s the best way to do it - get up and out early so that by noon a big chunk of the driving has been accomplished. Today was our first venture off the major highways. We’re taking Route 26 northwest to Scottsbluff, the site of Scotts Bluff National Monument and Chimney Rock, a huge rock formation. Along the way, we stopped at Ash Hollow State Park where we saw a sod house with cactus growing on the roof. Rising above the park was Windlass Hill, a treacherous descent along the Oregon Trail.
We all feel we deserve the moniker ECF for East Coast Fools. We spied a turn-off for Lake McConaughy in the distance. Thinking it would be a fine place for a shady picnic (and that it would be right around the bend) we hung a right and roared down the road. And then kept on driving and driving. We finally pulled up at a trailer park, swung around and parked under a tree. The lake was no where to be seen and it was probably miles away.
Another interesting fact is that the hotels are all 1-2 stories with no elevators. On the back of the hotel doors, there is information on what to do in case of a tornado. At the rest stops, the picnic shelters are concrete and are partially enclosed by brick walls. I think they may also act as shelters in case of tornadoes.
The view out the window is incredible - huge rolling fields with wind/water pumps and lots of cattle. Everything is hot and sun baked. We had to wait for construction and it was boiling with the windows open. Robert said we had the chance to experience our own Oregon Trail struggles sitting there in the baking heat.