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Pancake Feed for EMS and Oregon Trail

July 11, 2013

Nebraska – Tuesday, July 2

Tula and I started our morning off with a 1 mile walk around the campground. It’s on the shores of one of the few big lakes in Nebraska, and seems to be a very popular fishing destination.

We then set off west – roughly following along the old Oregon Trail. I stopped in Ash Hollow State Historic Park, and we walked a trail to the top of the hills and bluffs in the area. It was a really windy day out, which I don’t think is unusual in these parts! There were some historic signs and photos along the way, and the ruts from the actual Oregon Trail were clearly visible. Since the wagon wheels had an iron rim around them, thousands of them wore ruts in the ground, which have deepened into ravines over time. The trail is very clear to see. A bridge crossed over the actual trail to preserve it, and I saw other trail remnants later too – also now gouges and ravines in the ground. This area was one of the first treacherous parts of the journey that the pioneers encountered, because of the steepness coming down the hills, and it was difficult to keep the wagons from rolling out of control.

As I continued west, I drove past a long section of barbed wire fencing that had old cowboy boots and sneakers stuck on the fenceposts!?! And then I stopped for a little gas at one of the rural stations, and a couple pulled up with the tiniest trailer I’ve seen. It seemed to be about the size of a shoebox, and I asked them if I could take a picture. They told me the tiny trailer actually has a queen bed in it and a kitchen area in the back with a 2 burner stove. I still wouldn’t want to be pulling a trailer, but if I absolutely had to, that would probably be the one I would pull!

I continued on to the town of Oshkosh, where Tula and I got out for another short walk. Our walks aren’t long out in this part of Nebraska, because the towns are small without many sidewalks! But as I was walking past one of the shops in town, I saw a flyer about a Pancake Feed on the morning of July 4th to benefit the Garden County EMS. The EMS covers a very rural part of the state and the fundraiser was for some new equipment. I knew if I had been in town, I would have gone to the pancake feed, but since I wasn’t going to be there on the 4th, I wanted to support it anyway, so I called the local hospital right in Oshkosh, and they told me to come on in! It’s a small facility, which wasn’t surprising, and the hospital was combined with a nursing home. I think out here the facilities fill all kinds of needs – they have a large area to cover, and try to help everyone with their needs. I was happy to see both the flyer, and the banner out by the main road, and they were grateful to get a jump on the Pancake Feed fundraiser. I helped a police department fundraiser back in Wisconsin, and now this was an EMS fundraiser – I’ll have to keep my eyes open for a fire department fundraiser!

I continued meandering northwest through the hills, driving through an occasional old town where things were so quiet it was almost like a ghost town. I came to a state recreation area near Bridgeport and Tula and I got out for another mile and a half walk. Then I continued on to the first of the landmarks that the pioneers would see in this area – 2 huge rock formations that they called Courthouse Rock and the smaller one was Jailhouse Rock. The courthouse rock was said to resemble any courthouse on Main Street back east. After visiting them, I discovered the place where old combines and farm equipment go to die – the biggest (although very organized!) farm equipment junkyard that I could imagine – acres and acres of old colorful combines and tractors and other farm implements! It didn’t even look junky!

I headed north to the town of Alliance, and stopped at Carhenge, which I saw in 2005, but figured I’d stop again. Carhenge is a scale model of Stonehenge that was created by a Nebraska farmer as a memorial to his dad. He took old cars and dug holes to place them on end in a circle, and balanced other cars on top of those, and spray painted everything gray. And it does bear a resemblance to Stonehenge – kind of an odd little tourist attraction! Then Tula and I found a shady park and arbor with a fountain for nearly 2 more miles of walking, and I finished off the walking for today in the town of Alliance. The towns out here still have old-fashioned movie theatres with a marquee and neon lights, and as I walked past the theatre, the doors were open, and the smell of movie popcorn enticed me to go back and get a bag (reasonably priced no less!) to enjoy on my evening drive down to Chimney Rock! It was dark by the time I got to Chimney Rock, but there were lights at the base of it, and it softly glowed against the night sky, and I tried to imagine the thousands and thousands of pioneers who also saw it (day after day on their slow journey) as another one of the Oregon Trail landmarks.

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