Monday, July 14, 2008

Kearney, Nebraska to Scottsbluff, Nebraska

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.


svk50 said...

Hi Barbara,

What great adventures you are having! Your trip across Nebraska in search of a lake reminds me of our cross country trip, only we were crossing Canada. Not only do things look closer than they are, but the people (who seem used to these vast distances) act as though destinations are just around the bend. It leaves one feeling that New England is a very small place indeed!

Looking forward to the next installment!


Debbie said...

Hi, It was good to talk to you today. I am so glad you are having a great trip. You are fortunate to creat these memories with Gates and Robert. What great pictures, I wish I was there. Love, Debbie

Sara said...

Hi Barbara,

So enjoying your adventure! Here's a little poem from our former poet laureate about the state you're driving through. Enjoy (and drive safely),

Your Cuz

So This Is Nebraska

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

~ Ted Kooser

Susan Herron said...

Hey Barbara,
As I am preparing to head to Ocean City to have Women's Weekend, my thoughts turned to you, so I caught up with your cross-country excursion. Wow! How wonderful that you are stopping to see so many sights along the way. You will have stored up so many memories long before you reach Alaska. I hope that you all are still talking to each other by then! I have loved the photos, and thought the hay bales looked like cupcakes...yum. Your box city was a sad sight...a reminder that you have left us behind...sob. Better things ahead for you though.

We will be thinking about you as we gather at Susan's. It is not the same without your quirks to razz about! Safe journey and enjoy each other and this beautiful country of ours.
love ya,