Nebraska and the road home
Sep 23, 2011
|We headed straight south from Custer to the plain state of Nebraska to visit Scott's Bluff national monument. You can see in this photo the distinct opening between cliffs. This was used as a crossing point for many wagon trains of the 19th century.
The North Platte River served as a guide for pioneers following the Oregon and Mormon Trails.The display here detailed the different kinds of wagons commonly used.
We spent the night in a city owned park within view of the bluff. The town of Gering has a population of about 7700 people so we saw "city lights" for the first time in almost a week. The next morning we drove a short distance to Chimney Rock, another prominent landmark along the Oregon and Mormon trails. You can see why it was so widely recognized - it was said to be visible at least 40 miles away
We saw several warning signs like this
which Connie took very seriously by never venturing from any paved pathway. Nebraska is largely flat and uninteresting geographically once you leave the westernmost portion. We wanted to stop at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer which is built right across I-80.
but it was already closed for the day. We spent the night at a county fairgrounds in the town of we Hastings, birthplace of KoolAid. First thing the next morning we visited the Hastings Museum of Natural History where this fountain graced the outside.
We had planned our itinerary in Nebraska specifically to visit the birthplace of KoolAid only to find that the KoolAid man was out being re-furbished during our visit. The museum personnel explained that the exhibit had not been updated in several decades but we were still disappointed.
Soon enough we left the Cornhusker state behind to re-enter the rolling prairie of Iowa where we enjoyed many more miles of corn and cows. We noticed a sign for another national historic site in West Branch, the birthplace of the 31st President, Herbert Hoover. We watched a short film about his boyhood in the visitor center and gained another stamp in our passports. Then we wandered through the rest of the park where we saw the tiny cottage, where Mr Hoover was born. Then this re-creation of the blacksmith shop owned by his father, Jesse.
Next we looked at this re-created one room schoolhouse, like the ones he attended.
There was also a Quaker meeting house where the young family learned Biblical values and principles. Next, we drove past his presidential library to the twin graves of the president and his this wife,Lou.
I took a little side hike to take one last picture of this purple flower of the prairie.
We spent the night near Des Moines, after a short detour to ride this historic carousel with its hand-carved wooden animals.It has really unusual creatures like this
, this pirate cat with a wooden leg and an eye patch
and this sea serpent
The next day we continued east to cross the Mississippi River one last time. At the Illinois welcome center I took this shot explaining some of the history of the river road.
and this glimpse of the wide river itself which forms the boundary between Iowa and Illinois.
The miles of Illinois and Indiana rolled past as we made our way home to Ohio. Join us again the next trip and we hope you enjoyed the journey.