Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gering and Scottsbluff, Nebraska

After one night in Dodge City, Kansas, we headed almost due north to North Platte, Nebraska.  Just before we arrived in North Platte, Brooks and Dunn's 18-wheeler truck passed us.  I wasn't too quick with the camera, but it's the red truck -- on the back, it said "Brooks and Dunn The Last Rodeo."  We later learned it was on its way to Cheyenne, Wyoming, for Frontier Days.

We had reservations at the Holiday Trav-L-Park in North Platte.  Knowing we needed to have the oil changed in our Motorhome, we saw a place behind the Flying J not far from the park.  I called them and they said to bring it in the next morning -- which was Saturday -- and to bring our own oil and oil filter.  So we went to Wal-Mart to purchase what we needed.  Our plan was to be there when they opened at eight o'clock.  

The park gave us a 10% discount card for dinner at the Whiskey Creek Grill.  My steak was tough, but Alan said his was good.  We returned to the Motorhome and vegetated the rest of the night.  We didn't even take a picture of the park -- what was wrong with us??   I can tell you it was a nice, quiet park -- altho it was just off I-80.  However, for pictures and more info on the Holiday Trav-L-Park, check out www.holidayparkne.com.

The next morning, July 24,  we were off to have the oil changed -- albeit at nine o'clock instead of eight.  When we arrived, we were told it would be an hour-and-a-half wait -- OH WELL.  We waited -- by eleven o'clock, we were back on the road.  Our destination was Gering, Nebraska.   Our friends, Paul and Margery, were already there and we were excited we were going to spend some time with them.   

Again, the terrain was much the same --a lot of wide-open spaces.

We couldn't help but notice the hay -- it was golden in color -- alfalfa we believe.  Nebraska alfalfa producers annually harvest approximately five million tons of alfalfa hay on 1.5 million acres.  WOW, that's a lot of hay.


We also drove through the small town of Dalton -- again, not too quick with the camera, but Dalton...this is for you... Dalton, Nebraska -- that's what it said on the red water tank.

And did you notice the bank said 78 degrees -- in the middle of the afternoon -- WOO-HOO!!
It's a loonngg road with more corn from I-80 to Gering.

As we approached Gering, we saw the bluffs in the distance.  It definitely was a change in the terrain.

And a couple of trains loaded with coal passed us.

We have since learned that the State of Wyoming is the nation's largest coal producer,  with over 400 million tons of low sulphur coal  produced each year.  The coal is shipped to at least 37 states to produce electricity.  The coal is shipped by trains, which explains why there are so many train tracks in this area.  The typical coal train is 100 to 110 cars and each car holds 100 tons of coal, which only lasts 20 minutes in fueling a power plant.  Over 80 trains leave Wyoming each day with coal.

We finally arrived at our destination for a week --  Robidoux RV Park in Gering, Nebraska.

Robidoux RV Park is a well-maintained, city-owned park.  In fact, this park is one of our favorites -- clean, quiet and reasonable -- $22 a night for full hook-ups, which included a $2 discount with Good Sam's membership.  And if you stay for a week, there is more of a discount.  All sites were concrete with patio and picnic table.  We cannot take credit for finding this park -- our friends, Paul and Margery found it.  Alan had to back in to site 27 and did it perfectly the first time, except he had to pull forward a little so the slide would clear the electric box.  We would stay at this park again in a heartbeat.

Lots of green grass that was watered and mowed frequently.

Gering, Nebraska, is a city in Scotts Bluff County and was founded in 1887.  The city of Scottsbluff was founded across the North Platte River from the bluff in 1900.  Separated only by the river, the two cities have since grown together and now form the seventh largest urban area in Nebraska. Gering and Scottsbluff are centrally located between the Colorado Front Range, Yellowstone National Park and Mt. Rushmore.

I learned something new about RVing and traveling.  Margery told us that when you travel to meet someone, whoever is there waiting is responsible for dinner that night.  So, they had us over for steak on the grill, baked potato, salad and ice tea and boy was it good.  I learned a new way for baking a potato -- spray it first with cooking spray (preferably olive oil) and sprinkle it with coarse Kosher salt -- YUM.   And Paul -- he knows how to grill a mouth-watering steak.  We never did eat the sherbert they had for dessert -- we were too full:( 
On Monday morning, the four of us set out to explore Scotts Bluff, standing tall behind the visitors center.

Scotts Bluff towers 800 feet above the North Platte River and has been a natural landmark for many people, serving as a path marker for those on the Oregon, California, Mormon and Pony Express Trails.  Scotts Bluff preserves 3,000 acres of unusual land formations which rise over the otherwise flat prairie land below.

Scotts Bluff was first seen by the Sioux Indian tribe who used the bluff to chase and hunt buffalo.  In  1828, a group of fur traders from St. Louis were traveling along the North Platte River when one of the men, Hiram Scott, either caught a dreadful disease or was wounded -- different stories depending on  what you read.    Anyway, he was abandoned into the wild of western Nebraska to die.  He made it to the bluff where he in fact died.  The fur traders  later found his body and gave the bluff the name Scotts Bluff.

From the visitor center, we walked the trail through Mitchell Pass where pioneers once trod. Emigrants heading West encountered the bluffs after a six to eight-week trek across the flat grasslands.  Through the 1840s, deep ravines near here forced early wagon trains to bypass this area, but in 1851, a wagon route was opened.  For more than a decade, pioneers drove their teams and wagons through Mitchell Pass.

Sentinal Rock was on the left of the Pass. 

And Eagle Rock was on the right

Along the trail, we met a pioneer with his covered wagon.

He educated us on the trials and tribulations encountered by the early settlers on the Oregon-California-Morman Trail.  Enough supplies to last the occupants up to six months had to be packed into an area usually ten feet long and four feet wide.  The men built the wagons and prepared the livestock, while the women prepared and stocked food and clothing for the journey, as well as decided what household items to pack.  Oftentimes, there was so much inside the wagon, the settlers had to walk alongside.  As they traveled, items no longer needed -- even heirlooms -- were sometimes left behind on the trail.  If you stop and think about everything they would possibly need or want had to be packed in that wagon -- all their food, clothes, bedding, cooking utensils, medicine, weapons -- no wonder there was no room for the people inside.

Out on the prairies, wagons spread out to avoid the dust stirred up by wagons in front.  Here at Mitchell Pass, Emigrants encountered a bottleneck where wagons had to squeeze through narrow ravines in single file.  The clomping, scraping and grinding of hooves and wagon wheels over the same place gradually wore deep ruts in the soft sandstone.  Today, more than a century later, traces of the ruts remain.

Wooden posts mark the trail today.

There is a 1.6 mile trail -- Saddle Rock Trail -- that leads from the visitors center to the top of Scotts Bluff.  You can walk the trail or drive through three tunnels on Summit Road to the top.  It was hot, so we opted to drive.  Alan videotaped a panoramic view from the top, but unfortunately, I was unable to post it here, so we have no pictures from the top.  However, when leaving the area, we took some pictures of the tunnels.  Can you see the small holes in the rock -- those are the tunnels we drove through to reach the top of Scotts Bluff.  We also learned that the Summit Road is believed to be the oldest concrete road in Nebraska.

We enjoyed our visit to Scotts Bluff and learned a lot about the early settlers who traveled 2000 miles across treacherous, rugged ground in covered wagons for whatever reason -- to find wealth,  religious freedom, cheap land -- whatever the reason.   I personally came away with a new admiration of the thousands of Emigrants who traveled the Oregon, California, Morman Trail and the adverse conditions they ewere face with every day.  We are thankful we can see this great land and relearn all the history we had forgotten, or never knew, in our modern wagon-on-wheels with all the luxuries we have become accustomed to.  We are truly spoiled.

Several nights Paul and Margery joined us for a game of bowling, boxing, baseball, etc,  on Wii.  Some may think playing Wii is not as physically challenging as playing the "real" games, but I would disagree.  It depends on how much effort one puts into it.  One thing for sure, it gets you off the couch and moving.

Look at that form

Paul gets another strike.

The night before Paul and Margery were to leave, we went out to eat at Rosita's.

They had a special -- for $19.98, you could get an appetizer, two meals and two drinks -- what a bargain. We chose nachos and enchilada dinners -- me, chicken, Alan, beef.  Paul and Margery also had nachos and chili rellenos -- it was wonderful authentic, fresh Mexican food.    We also wanted dessert -- although we were full already, we had to sample everything.  I don't remember the names of the dessert and neither does Alan.  The one we selected was a puffy-pastry with cinnamon, sugar and honey, similar to the sopapillas we used to eat when Alan was stationed in New Mexico, except they were more like biscuits.   However, the waitress brought us three different desserts and did not charge us for any of them.  I think we had a dozen and not a crumb was left -- of course, we all shared the desserts and they were DELICIOUS!!

We hated to say good-bye to Paul and Margery, but we will see them again in September when we attend our first ever Escapees rally -- their 50th Escapade -- in Goshen, Indiana. The Escapees Club is an organization comprised of  thousands of RV'ers -- full-timers and part-timers -- from all over the U.S. There will be classes to attend -- everything from computer classes to how to drive a RV to gold-panning. and so forth.  We are definitely looking forward to attending the rally.

We took a final picture of Paul and Margery, but our camera died and the pictures didn't turn out.  Now we have to purchase a new one.

After telling them good-bye, we headed out for Chimney Rock. I attempted to copy a pic from a website and ended up losing part of this posting and had to recreate it, so I am not going to try that again.  If you are really interested in learning more about Chimney Rock, just Google Chimney Rock, NE, and you will have access to all kinds of information.

We also made the drive to Cheyenne, WY, approximately an hour and a half to two hours West.  We hoped to find a camera at F.E. Warren AFB's BX, but their BX was much smaller than Little Rock's.  We also checked out their FamCamp, which was full.  It's good F.E. Warren doesn't have airplanes, we saw lots of free-roaming antelope around the base property.  F.E. Warren has 150 Minuteman III ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missles).

We did attend church on Sunday at the First Baptist Church of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  The pastor presented the message from Philippians 3:12-14 -- (1)  Never think you have reached perfection; (2) Never quit progressing and (3) Never stop pressing on.  He also led the singing.  It was a nice size church building, but we did notice in the bulletin that the week before they only had 33 in Sunday School and 89 in church service.  They were starting VBS this week.  We also saw they were leading a mission trip to Deadwood, South Dakota, on the same week as the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis.  That should be a very interesting mission trip.  We have added this church to our prayer list.

We have much more to tell everyone, so stay tuned to see where we go next and what we see and learn.  This is definitely a learning experience.  I know I say this all the time, but we are so blessed to have the opportunity to travel and see this great land we live in called America.  We don't know how long we will actually be on the road -- right now, we pray it's a long time -- but we, like everyone else, have no idea what tomorrow may bring or what God has planned for us.   

May God continue to bless our voyage and my God bless our family and friends everywhere.  Don't forget to come back now to see where we are and what we are doing.

No comments:

Post a Comment