Western Nebraska Food Pantry – Scottsbluff
Nebraska – Wednesday, July 3
The first thing I wanted to take care of this morning was shopping for my donation to the food pantry at the Community Action of Western Nebraska. I had called them to see what they might need, and shopped for cereal, tuna and canned chicken and vienna sausages, canned chili and ravioli. They gave me good directions to their building, and I found the pantry and carried the food in. In addition to the food pantry, they also help with healthcare and youth programs and other things in the community.
Then it was time for some walking. I started with a short 1 mile walk by the North Platte River so that Tula could get out, and then I headed for the Scottsbluff National Monument. I had been here back in 2005 and it was worth a return visit. Scottsbluff was another of the landmarks for the pioneers on the Oregon Trail – they would pass Courthouse and Jailhouse Rocks, then Chimney Rock, and then Scottsbluff, and then they were out into the open expanses of land again. There was a 3.2 mile roundtrip walk to the top of the bluff, and from up there, one can see for miles and miles in all directions. It was a pretty warm walk to the top, but it’s a good hike, and there are amazing views all the way up. I walked on a couple of the trails on top of the bluff too, and met an older couple with binoculars. We tried to figure out how far we could see, and Chimney Rock was visible even without the binoculars, and that was about 20 miles away. It was such a clear day. I started to head back down the bluff, and saw a sign that said the mile and a half back down would take about an hour. With all the downhill walking, it was a little too easy to get going too fast, and I was almost jogging, although still watching my footing. I made it down in 35 minutes, but my left knee was not happy with the quick descent, and I paid for that for a few days!
There was also another Oregon Trail site here, and they had several styles of covered wagons, and even life-size statues of oxen pulling one of the wagons, and in the warm breeze and dust, I could almost here the pioneer voices and clatter of wagon wheels. The trail led out to more covered wagon ruts – again, the wagons had formed depressions in the ground, which have deepened over time. Three different groups of people used the trail here on the south side of the North Platte River – the Oregon Trail pioneers, the California Gold Rush miners and the Pony Express riders. The Mormons made their own trail on the north side of the North Platter River – there seemed to be friction between them and some of the other people, so they made their own route. I just stood in their very tracks and looked out over the ground they traveled with awe – about 15 miles a day with questionable food and water sources, possible hostile attacks, and many of them had to throw out some of their meager possessions just to lighten their loads. Yet they continued on and on for months, and simply kept going.
At this point, I had less than 2 miles to walk to finish off Nebraska, so I pointed the van west toward Wyoming, and drove to Morrill, Nebraska – the last Nebraska town I would see before crossing the border. Tula and I got out and walked our couple miles – through some neighborhood areas just outside of town, and then through the downtown area itself. Morrill also had the ubiquitous grain elevators by the train tracks at the edge of town, and some osrt of auction was going on by one of the shops on the main street, and that had drawn a bit of a crowd.
And then Nebraska was done. I had walked all 56 miles, and all 7 donations given – the Kids’ Cruisin’ Kitchen summer lunch program, the Relay for Life, Adopt a Soldier, the Nebraska State 4-H camp, the Golden Spike Visitor Center, the Garden County EMS, and the food pantry at Community Action of Western Nebraska.
Since it stays light so late, I crossed into Wyoming this evening – State #40 – and stopped in Torrington to get the first mile and a quarter of the Wyoming walking done. On my way to Cheyenne, where I was going to stay tonight, I passed the Cold Springs historic site, which was a good water stop for everyone who was westward-bound. And then I enjoyed my drive south to Cheyenne, and saw a pretty sunset on the way.