Nebraska was a pleasant surprise. We had not planned on going there, but had a week to kill before Rick and Bobbie came and were not happy with where we were in Wyoming so Nebraska it was. State #19 of our trip so far. We were going to stay in Scotts Bluff, but they were booked for Oregon Trail Days, apparently the biggest celebration of the year for Scotts Bluff. They recommended we stay at Chimney Rock about 25 miles out of town for the weekend and then move back into town. This proved to be a nice choice, the RV park at Chimney Rock was not much, but we had a grand view of the formation right thru the windshield!!!
On the hosts recommendation, we went to Carhenge one afternoon. It was pretty cool, dedicated in 1987 on the summer solicits, it is a to scale replica of England’s Stonehenge made of junk cars. Initially it had 4 foreign cars included in the sculpture, but they have since been removed, all cars are vintage American made. They even had a funeral procession and burial of the last three foreign automobiles leaving the headstone below. Admission is of course FREE!!!
We returned to Scotts Bluff, NE on Sunday and were going to participate in Oregon Trail Days, until we realized that it was just a carnival. Thought there might be some history, reenactments or something going on, but no just a carnival that we could see right out the windshield. The view at Chimney Rock was better, but such is life.
When the carnival was over we did have quite a nice view of Scottsbluff from our campsite. Both Scottsbluff and Chimney Rock are along the North Platte river and were well known landmarks on the Oregon, Mormon and California trails. All three trails were basically one in the same thru Nebraska and then split off going their own way. Interesting to note that the Pony Express traveled this same route for about a year and a half 1860 – 1861 until the first transcontinental telegraph was installed making the pony express pretty much obsolete.
Scotts Bluff National Monument is made up of 5 large rock formations of sandstone. These formations guided many pioneer emigrants thru Mitchell Pass one of the only passes navigable by wagon train. The landmark was turned into a National Monument in 1919 and a road to the top of “Scotts Bluff” with three tunnels and a trail down and around “saddle Rock” with a tunnel thru it were all completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps – CCC in the 1930s. The hike is not a loop but for lazy hikers like us there is a shuttle bus. We took the bus up to the top and hiked down…
We were lucky because there was an avalanche on the trail about 18 months ago and the trail had been closed for repairs until just July 8th!! Perfect timing, you can notice the result of the avalanche, so thankful that although there were people on the mountain no one was hurt when it happened.
Other Nebraska sites – Minatare Lake and Light house. This is a state park and has some really nice camp sites on the lake and has this lighthouse that is open to be climbed. They boast that it is one of only 7 interior lighthouses in the country, but this one does not have a light?? Is it still a lighthouse??
Toad Stools Geologic formations – This trip was around 200 miles round trip (with a couple of other sites) and over 40 miles on gravel roads. But the temperature was 105 and we couldn’t really think of much else to do except ride in an airconditioned car. The problem was when we got there, there was a 1.5 mile hike to see the formations in 105 temperatures with Nellie. It was so hot we could barely sit outside for lunch. Luckily, another visitor told us that you only had to go over this ridge to see the best formations and not the entire hike, so we did.
Rubidoux family was important in this area with trappers and fur traders in the 1800s. We visited their old trading post on one of the passes south of Mitchell, not much to it, but notice the antler door knob. Passed these long horns on the way.
All in all Nebraska was a really pleasant surprise. Peace and Love!!