Hank and Marilyn Coast to Coast 2017 travel blog

Going to the Fair

Quilts, Quilts and more Quilts

Telling Them where to Go

Today we chose to drive and not follow the Oregon Trail, having not slept well at the campground (barking dog, cool night air). We traveled 137 miles to our next campground on the Trail at Grand Island, Nebraska. We traveled part of the way on US 80, the very road that we travel when we visit Marilyn's mom in NJ. It parallels Rte 30, which is the nation's first transcontinental highway and is also known as the Lincoln Highway. It is a road that takes us through towns rather than around them and helps us see more of the country. The towns tend to be small and many of them have 1 or 2 traffic lights before leaving on the far side of town and on to the next one.

Marilyn wanted some caffeine so we stopped at a Wendy's along along the route. Hank placed an order for coffee and a smoothie. His gray hair must have tipped the cashier of his "senior" status because it turns out that Nebraskan Wendy's give free coffee to seniors. A nice surprise. Someone needs to check if local franchises make have the same policy.

We ate lunch in Grand Island, Nebraska at our campsite. Grand Island is also the home of the State Fair. After lunch and setting up our tent, we went into town to attend the American Tradition. The fair runs through Labor Day weekend and each day is filled with things to see and do. The first pavilion we entered was dedicated to shopping. Local and national companies had booths, and samples. Jacuzzi, bakeware, tractors, mattresses, Free-motion quilting machines that caught Marilyn's eye but were too large to fit into our home.

Thinking we were in the wrong place for what we wanted to see, we turned to leave and there in corner was an opening and through that opening we saw - quilts! Hundreds of them. Nebraskans like to quilt and the variety was astounding. Bright colors, autumn colors, pieced, applique and cross-stitch squares joined together to create works of art. We've seen quilts at other fairs but they were county, not state so there were fewer quilts displayed. Here there were so many quilts that they were laid across each other, meaning only a portion of the quilt was seen - even the ribbon winners. Docents wearing gloves were available to handle the quilts if you wanted to see more, but don't touch them yourself. Body oil and grimy hands leave a mark. You need to be a quilter, I guess to even begin to understand the excitement of seeing all the quilts.

We saw the finals of the dog herder competition. Shetland sheepdogs and Huskies were tasked with guiding three young cows through a set of "obstacles" laid out in the arena and given five minutes to complete the course. Their handler was permitted only the use of hand signals and whistles to guide the dog and had to remain in one position on the course until one obstacle from the end when he could physically help the dog by blocking the path of the cows (standing with raised arms). We watched ten dogs go through the trial. Six were disqualified due to time overage or their handler messed up the course's layout but all the dogs were amazing, stopping the cows with a look and moving them in a certain direction with a nip at their hoof or running around them. One poor pooch was so distracted when the three cows refused to stay together that he ignored his handlers direction and kept trying to bring the cows back into one group rather than bring the straggler to the two. The audience groaned when that happened because that took time and he ran out of it. Anyway, the remaining 4 dogs came in under the wire with the winning time being 4 minutes 34 seconds. Second place was 4:36.

Had gyros, baklava and ice cream for dinner, took a tram ride around the perimeter of the fair and called it a night. Got to campground around ten, bed at 11 and fell asleep to the traffic sounds of Rte 80. Marilyn grew up seeing 80 from her kitchen window so it was a familiar sound. Hank needed to adapt and with the cool air still an issue it took longer for him to drop off. But we're still here and we're still moving.

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