Posts Tagged With: Nebraska

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 6

I ended Day 5 at Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area.  Camping at a recreation area is very different from camping in a state or national park.  You pay admittance ($10 in this instance) and just drive to wherever you want to overnight.  Lake Ogallala is gorgeous.  I parked right on the beach under the trees and prepared for the night. After unloading my kayak, chair, cooler and other items I drove to the only restaurant in the rec area.  It was 4:00 but I  thought I would treat myself to a cocktail and a hot meal.  The sign read that the kitchen didn’t open until 5:00.  OK, I’ll sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine until it opens.  I ordered my wine and told the bartender I’d just sit and keep her company for an hour until I could order dinner.  She said, “Nope, that’ll be two hours”.  Well, I had crossed into another time zone and it was actually 3:00.  So, now I’m two zones away from home and I’m a little confused because I don’t know how to re-set my fit bit watch and I’ve been deducting an hour every time I glance at it.  OK, so now I’ll deduct two hours.  But I’m still hungry.  I bought a bag of Doritos and a bag of Cheetos (actually the first junk food since I began my trip – hooray for me!) and returned to the lake.

I inflated my kayak and had a wonderful paddle on Lake Ogallala.  I decided I’d do an early morning paddle so I left the kayak inflated, sat down to write, read, drink some wine (I always carry a bottle for happy hour), plan the next day’s route, munch on junk food  and watch the sun set.  Stunning.

There’s one problem with camping in a recreation area – no facilities. Well, there was a vault toilet but yuck, no.  I used my female urination device for the first time and it worked great although my sister-in-law’s method of outdoor peeing worked even better.  Thank you, Lisa. Contact me if you want her method.  I don’t mean to be offensive but these are things girls must think about when camping. I had a very comfortable night except that my eye started draining. After cleaning it with a washcloth and water, it began to feel better and by morning the pain was gone and the swelling under control.  Whew!

No kayaking in the morning.  The lake was shrouded in mist.  I sat on the dock dangling my feet in the icy water while making some phone calls. The setting was quiet and mysterious and I started thinking about Stephen King’s, “The Mist”.  I got extra spooked when I heard a splash and promptly pulled my feet out of the water and up into a lotus position but reminded myself that there are no sharks or alligators in Lake Ogallala.  It still creeped me out until I saw a large fish jump, wiggle and splash.  It was a trout or a bass maybe and would explain why I saw a bunch of people fishing yesterday.

I had a heck of a time deflating the kayak and getting it back up into the rooftop carrier.  I brought a one step stool but I still wasn’t tall enough to position it, zip the carrier and tie it down.  There was no one around to help so I just did a half-assed job and went on my merry way. I stopped at the Visitor Center to clean up, change clothes, a little makeup (hopeless since I didn’t want anything applied around my eyes), comb and style(?) my hair, etc. The hell with it.  I was anxious to find Wyoming.

The rest of Day 6 was glorious.  I entered Wyoming early and was so enthralled with the scenery I passed right through Cheyenne and Laramie without really noticing. My plan was to stop and explore some cowboy stuff but I decided I was more interested in the countryside than tourist attractions so I kept driving west on Interstate 80 until I discovered a byway through the Medicine Bow Mountains.  It took me two hours off my route but was so worth it.

 

I then got desperately lost but eventually found Rawlins, WY and decided that I would boondock for the first time at the local WalMart.  Many of the camping blogs I read recommend staying at the WalMart lots because they’re safe and convenient.  There are security cameras and lights and I was encouraged that there were at least 20 RVs, campers and trucks parked in the overnight parking area.  I know it sounds odd to boondock in a WalMart lot but if it’s good enough for the big boys with quarter million $ RVs, it’s good enough for me.  WalMart loves overnight campers because they buy their supplies from the store, buy gas, etc.  Whatever you may think about WalMart, they are cordial and supportive of their overnight campers.

I stopped for dinner at the Days Inn restaurant next door because I was exhausted and didn’t have the energy to look for any other restaurants.  I had one of the most delicious cheeseburgers I’ve ever eaten.  Perhaps I was just extremely hungry having only eaten leftover Cheetos and a couple of energy bars all day.  I parked between two huge RVs and in the morning the lot looked like a regular campground. I felt secure and had a comfortable night.  I can’t wait for Day 7 – Grand Teton National Park.

 

 

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Categories: Camping, Kayaking, Life, Retirement, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 5

Oh boy.  I woke up at 3:30 with a lot of itching and pain in my eye.  I almost vomited when I saw the monster in my mirror.  My eye was mostly swollen shut and my cheek was red and puffy.  Uh oh.  What to do?  I have a well-stocked first aid kit but nothing for this.  (Note to self: add antibiotic eye drops to kit.)  I’m in the middle of nowhere – York, Nebraska without a clue.   At 5 a.m.  I called the front desk to ask about a walk-in clinic or an ER but the clerk didn’t know anything so I tried to imagine what a pioneer woman would do.  I’m never sure whether to use heat or cold for swelling so I used both alternating a warm compress with ice. I took a hot shower and let the water drum against the swelling.  It felt better but without makeup I looked like hell.  If it’s not better by the afternoon I thought, I’ll track down a pharmacy or a clinic wherever I happen to be.   Although I felt and looked like Quasimodo I’ll probably never see anyone I run into today again.  So, as long as I don’t scare any small children or animals I’m just going to enjoy my day and forget about my appearance.

OK, first stop Fort Kearny.  I was disappointed.  The fort was an outpost for travelers heading west on the Oregon Trail, where they could stop and re-supply.  There were no battles fought there.  There are a few outbuildings standing and the wooden palisades surrounding the fort.  The clerk in the Visitor Center was a young man who didn’t know the history of the fort or the surrounding area so I left after buying a couple of postcards for the grandkids.

Then I headed to Gothenburg, the Pony Express Capital of Nebraska. The station in the park was used as a fur trading post along the Oregon Trail before becoming a Pony Express station.  It’s hard to imagine in todays world of cell phones, internet, email and text messaging that the only way to communicate in the early days of the country was through brave young men riding relay, galloping between stations picking up and dropping off saddlebags full of mail.  Hostile Indians, brutal weather, robbers – Pony Express riders were tough, courageous and resourceful.  The station is now a museum.  I bought postcards for the kids and placed them in an original mailbag attached to the front door.  My imagination was  deliciously satisfied.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hit the jackpot at the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park in North Platte, Nebraska. Buffalo Bill Cody’s Scout’s Rest Ranch was fascinating; the mansion, the grounds, the barn and all the artifacts from his long life as an Army scout and buffalo hunter and then as a world reknown showman traveling with his Wild West Show throughout the US and Europe.  It was a gorgeous day and I spent a happy couple of hours looking around and plugging the holes in my memory with details of the life and times of Buffalo Bill Cody, a bigger than life icon of the wild west. I imagined living in those rooms that look so small by today’s standards but was a mansion in the 19th century.  The rooms are furnished with elegance and style.  Bill’s wife and daughters were women of culture and intelligence and strength but it was still a difficult life.  Two of his children died from scarlet fever in that house so although it is a beautiful place it is filled with ghosts.   The spring house and a small cabin were interesting.  The huge barn holds a collection of the posters from Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and many of of his wagons, tools and rifles.   I saw my first buffalo. My eye still hurts and I’m still in the middle of who knows where? But, I had a great day and I’m very happy.

 

 

I regretfully left Scout’s Rest Ranch but still needed to find a place to spend the night.  Ogalalla.  I love saying that.  So I decided I would try to camp at  Ogalalla State Recreation Area   More about that tomorrow.

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Life, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 4

I woke up excited knowing I would be entering Nebraska today.  Up til now I’ve been traveling through states I’ve already visited.  My real wild west adventure begins when I cross the border into Nebraska.

At 12:15 I was in Iowa.  Iowa? And 25 minutes later I crossed into Nebraska.  I guess I just clipped the corner of Iowa.  The land undulates;  not hills and valleys but  waves and the crops are healthy and green and beautiful.  Planted in checkerboard patterns, the fields are tidy and neat.  I have no idea what kinds of trees I’m seeing.  There are  varieties of firs I’ve never seen before – some are fluffy and lacy and some spikey and dangerous looking.   I never imagined so many shades of green.  From lime to almost black.    I drove through miles and miles of wide open country, blue skies and green fields and woods.  We live in an amazing country and I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to see it.

My first stop was at the Lewis and Clark Center in Nebraska City.  I’ve always been amazed at the bravery of the men and women who trail blazed the west and when I was a kid daydreamed of running away to be a pioneer.  I know now it wasn’t nearly as glamorous “Wagon Train” made it appear.

I had lunch at a cute little restaurant in Nebraska City and took a doggy bag with me for dinner. My eye was itching and sore. Back in the car I decided to just head toward Fort Kearney and stop at a motel mid-afternoon to reorganize, blog, relax and take a long, hot shower.  What I didn’t realize is that in Nebraska there are long stretches of highway with no exits and the exits that exist do not have the convenient gas stations, restaurants, etc. that I take for granted.  So I’m very cautious about keeping my gas tank filled and peeing whenever and wherever I can, even if I don’t have to “go”.  I drove and drove and drove and finally located a motel in York, Nebraska and had a very comfortable night. I took some aspirin for my itchy, sore eye and swore I would not allow any physical ailments to slow me down.  I’m anticipating great things tomorrow.

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Life, Retirement, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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