When I decided I would take on the Nebraska Passport program, I knew I wanted to get out to western Nebraska. I’ve traveled I-80 more times than I can count, but I am embarrassingly ignorant of Nebraska state highways. I decided on Scottsbluff, because I’d be able to knock out several stamps in one trip. As I started planning this adventure, I realized I don’t always like traveling alone.
I travel alone most of the time, because that’s just my reality. But I want to do less of that as I approach my twilight years. And since I’m not dating and therefore won’t ever be married, and I’m too old to have kids, I get to wrangle my nieces and nephews into traveling with me. Basically, behold my future:
So. Test case number 1: my three local nieces and I would road trip out to western Nebraska and see some sights.
We had quite the itinerary planned, and I quickly learned that planning is great, but be prepared for it to all go to hell. Which it did, 45 minutes into our trip.
The tire pressure light on my car blazed bright orange as soon as we hit Lincoln. If I was by myself, I wouldn’t have stressed too much about it. But I had these girls with me, and I was way more concerned about their safety than mine. So we stopped in Lincoln to fill the tires. Problem solved.
Until we got about 30 minutes from York. Light blinked on again. This time, I knew I would feel better if I stopped and had the car looked at. So McKenna looked up a tire shop in York and we spent 30 minutes with the kind people at Penner’s Tire. They could find no good reason why my tire pressure light was on, assured me I had no nails in any tires, gave me the names of tire shops they trusted in Kearney and North Platte, and sent me on my way.
At this point, we were nearly 90 minutes behind schedule. Yet still we stopped at a bakery in Grand Island, to get a stamp in the passport.
Smiles before we ate the cookies. Not as many smiles after we ate them.
The food wasn’t quite what we were expecting, but you know, adventure. I was hoping to stop at a couple of other fine Nebraska establishments, but I knew Chimney Rock closed at 5, and this first day would be our only day to see it, so we pressed on. But in my haste, I forgot to fuel up in Grand Island, so we had to stop in North Platte. For anyone who has traversed I-80, consider this: we started in Papillion and proceeded to make stops in Lincoln, York, Grand Island, and North Platte. Much like I imagine our pioneer forbears did. So I was totally feeling the tedium of our journey every time Emma would ask “When will we be there?” or Lauren would comment on the sheer duration of our travels.
But at 4:45 MDT, we pulled into the parking lot at Chimney Rock, amid clouds and sprinkles. I am determined to learn how to use the DSLR better, so I quickly whipped it out and snapped some really awful photos, made some adjustments, and took this one:
But as I look at it now, it actually looks a bit like a giant middle finger, which is somewhat apt as that’s how our presence was received by the workers at at the visitor’s center. Not that I blame them; we must have been a sight, we weary travelers rolling up 15 minutes before closing time. We did not get close at all, because we saw signs for rattlesnakes, two mosquitos started feasting on my arm, and we ran into a wasp.
We were outside for maybe 5 minutes. Which was long enough for me to shoot this gem:
I still haven’t mastered the aperture settings, because sky is supposed to have some element of blue, not pure white. But these mugs, coupled with Emma’s inability to look at a camera, make this the best image I could get, considering the fear factor involved.
We traveled on to our hotel, where I had promised the girls they could jump in the pool, only to learn that the pool was closed. Never in my life was I so happy to have brought a portable DVD player, an A/V cable, and five movies that would appeal to all. So instead of the pool, we watched Ella Enchanted, followed by The Princess Bride.
A good sleep was had by all–I shared a bed with Emma, who really didn’t infringe on my space at all despite firm warnings from McKenna and Lauren.
And for Thursday’s adventure, you’ll just have to come back tomorrow.