Ron & Elena's 2007-2010 Travels travel blog

We spotted these Nebraska Black "Hippos" today.

Did you know that NE has a National Forest? Actually it has...

The forest was planted from seedlings!


One of many fields here used by the forest service to raise...

Today we saw thousands of these coal cars on the tracks paralleling...

Train after train hauling nothing but coal heading east.

A typical ranch and empty coal cars heading west to reload.

A typical view of the rolling sandhills and cattle gathered at a...

Another typical view of one of those long coal trains we saw...

The sky before this afternoon's storm.

The rainbow after the storm.

(Ron Writing) We had a pretty wild storm last night. Not too much wind but it rained very hard for several hours and we had some marble sized hail but it wasn’t frozen real hard and didn’t do any damage. There was a lot of thunder and lightning to add to the drama!

This morning we left Grand Island, NE heading west on NE-2 through the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills. This highway is also called the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. This large area of NE has the appearance of grass covered sand dunes. The soil in most places is not suited to farming and the land is not level enough. There are very large ranches and very few people. About every 30 or 40 miles there is a small town – most of them have less than 500 people. If it weren’t for the employment provided by the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad there would probably be even fewer people.

NE-2 runs right beside the railroad in most places. There are two or more sets of tracks everywhere and the trains run almost constantly. We saw dozens of trains today. Each train is either going east with cars full of coal from Wyoming or it’s an empty going west for another load of coal. We measured a few stopped trains and each was about 1.2 miles to 1.5 miles long. I counted the cars on one train and there were 138. Every train has 2 engines pulling and either one or two engines pushing. It looks like a coal pipeline!

Before this trip we didn’t know that Nebraska had a National Forest. It’s the only National Forest that was planted from seedlings – quite an interesting story. We stopped at the visitors center today to learn a little more about it.

Most of the day we just drove and enjoyed the scenery. We pulled off the highway into several small towns to have a look around. Most of them look to be well past their prime with most of the homes lacking TLC and few remaining businesses.

The weather was great today until late this afternoon as we arrived in the small town of Hyannis (pop. 300). Then the sky got very dark and we had a thunder storm with very heavy rain. It was all over in about 30 minutes. A little later the sun was out and we enjoyed a beautiful rainbow!

There's no campground here in Hyannis but we found a nice level parking lot by the high school where we plan to spend the night - unless someone changes our mind!

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