Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Camper

The camper* turned four on April 25th. 74,169 miles. That's an average of 18,542 miles per year.  It's right at 3,000 miles from Boston to LA.  So each year we've made the equivalent of three cross country round trips.  If we continue at that rate, by 2016 the Lazy Daze will be approaching 150,000 miles.  Our mechanic says that a well maintained V-10, and transmission, should be good  for about 200,000 miles before needing a major overhaul.   Baring the unforeseen, we have no plans on slowing down. We're talking about buying a 2015. We'll have to see what 2015 brings.

We put about 60,000 miles on our 2000 LD, which we bought used,  before we sold it to buy the '08. That's 134,000 miles of driving a Lazy Daze.We have experienced no Ford or Lazy Daze issues that would not be expected with that amount of usage.

* Some people have a name for their camper. We don't. I sometimes wonder why people name inanimate objects, but they do. My Uncle Leo always had a name for his car. Boats of any decent size,  almost always have a name.  All ships do. Bomber pilots in WW-II named their planes. Tioga George names everything.
We've just never been in that habit. In fact, mostly we just refer to Gopher as "the dog".  She's been called "the dog" for so long, she answers to the name "dog" as well as Gopher.  To each his own.

Today we went to church. Tomorrow Carol takes everyone shopping. $$$$$
We're really enjoying our visit with Suzanne and family. On Tuesday, May 1st, we continue on.

Happy Birthday, Camper. You've been the source of unimaginable fun for the last four years. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Escaping bad weather.

On Wednesday, we pulled into the city campground in Gering.  The plan was to spend the next day exploring the Scott's Bluff area. After registering, the host handed me a list of nearby tornado shelters. He said a storm system was heading this way on Thursday and an RV was no place to be in a really bad storm. No news flash there. The internet weather report was talking about the possibility of hail and gusts to 60 mph.  Unlike the pioneers we were following, we had the option of going someplace else. On Thursday morning, bright and early, we headed south to Chris & Suzanne's house in Longmont, CO.  Scott's Bluff will have to wait.
We're "camping" on the street in front of her house now enjoying the company of  grandchildren Isabella(Izzy) and Oliver .
The Forest Service campgrounds at the lower elevations in CO, open on May 1st so we'll be here until then.  Our Lazy Daze friends, John and Linda, called. They're joining us at the Green Mountain Reservoir next week, along with their dog, and Gophers friend, Sadie. After that, we're working our way north to the Dinosaur National Monument, then picking up the Oregon Trail in Idaho.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Continuing west to Scotts Bluff

We left the Lincoln Highway and continued west on US Hwy 26 towards Scotts Bluff. NE publishes a wonderful guide that locates hi-lights of the Auto Tour Route.

Frequently, when we're traveling through small towns, we'll turn off to drive down their main street just to see what's there or perhaps find a community park where we can stretch our legs. Most often, the main street through town, is simply signed as Main Street. On Main Street in Oshkosh, we spotted this very interesting looking bakery. Inside was a women, the owner,cook,  baker, etc., and one very talkative customer having breakfast. He told me about his dog that was sitting in the back of his truck, how good breakfast was, asked where I was from, etc.  For $4.50, I got Carol four huge chocolate chip cookies and two sticky buns for us to share.  At Panera Bread, the other day, they charged $1.75 for a much smaller, and not as good, cookie.

The sign tells the story of the violence during this era. Attack, revenge, attack, more revenge, on and on.

Broadwater, NE has seen some better days. The old store selling barbed wire, coal, etc., was especially interesting.

The next picture tells of the challenges caused by the steep slopes of some of the hills the pioneers had to traverse.

The speck in the distance is us.

There are very few examples of actual wagon ruts remaining. It's been over 125 years and the rain and wind has taken its toll. The ravine, or trace, is the result of erosion of countless wagon ruts over time.

A marker noting a verified point on the trail.

Chimney Rock was the most recognizable landmark on this part of the Western Trails. Pioneers would scale the rock to etch their names. The piece above, fell off the "chimney" years ago and was found by a hiker.

When the pioneers bought provisions before "jumping off" they brought an assortment of trade items with them. Mens shirts, fabric, knives, etc., to use to trade with the Indians, mostly for food but sometimes for labor or guide services. Moccasins were among the most popular trade items because the pioneers shoes wore out from walking and because moccasins, once their feet toughened up, were comfortable. This is a pair of moccasins worn by one of the pioneers.

The North Platte River. Frequently, quicksand was encountered on the river crossing sending the oxen, wagon and passengers to a slow death. After a heavy rain, the level of the river could rise by three feet or more.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pioneers and railroads

We started the day by taking the Lincoln Highway from Kearney west towards North Platte.
This part of Nebraska was a tough place to live during the mid-1800's.

We made a stop at the Dawson County Historical Museum in Lexington. These local museums are always so interesting. The items on display were all donated by local families.  Here are some photos of just a small part of the exhibit.

From an old diner on the Lincoln Highway

We continued west to Cozad which, per a sign, is proudly located on the 100th meridian. We went to Cozad to see the original Pony Express station building.

From Cozad we continued west to North Platte. We particularly wanted to see the Union Pacific's Bailey Yard. It's the largest train yard in the world. 

The 8 story observation tower

This repair facility handles everything from complete overhauls to light bulb changing.

Each locomotive is equipped with sand tanks toward the front of the engine that are filled with sand from the sand tower. Sand is the primary source of traction for locomotives anytime wheels begin to slip. In front of each wheel, there's a nozzle that sprays sand on the track with compressed air. This is an automatic operation each time the wheels slip or the engineer makes an emergency stop.
This photo didn't come out very well but it's tells the story of how orphan children from big cities were sent out west to be, hopefully, adopted by farming families who desperately needed the help. 

The plan was to spend the night at the city campground but it doesn't open until May 1st so we're at the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park campground. $18/night.

Nebraska is a fascinating state.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Nebraska. From Seward west to Kearney

A little history.In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act created the Nebraska Territory out a portion of Louisiana Purchase (1803)lands that were north of the 40th parallel. The 40th parallel became the southern border of the eventual state of Nebraska. Since Congress wanted to create new states of as similar a size as possible, it created Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota to each be three degrees of height so they would be of similar size plus fit neatly between Kansas and Canada. The eastern border of Nebraska is the Missouri River. The western border is 104* of longitude which was the eastern border of the Idaho Territory. North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming share the same 104* border. By sharing the 104th meridian as a border, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming all ended up being about 7* of longitude wide. As an aside, Washington and Oregon are also 7* in width. The Southwest corner of Nebraska is now Colorado. While still a territory, the territorial governor released this land to Colorado because it was both mountainous, thus not conducive to farming or railroads, and was populated by miners who were notoriously difficult to govern. Nebraska was admitted to the Union on March 1, 1867.

 This morning we woke up at the Blue River Valley city campground in Seward. It's located on the north bank of the Blue River.  It was 32* with a light frost on the grass. I grabbed a hot cup of coffee and took Gopher for a walk. Since there was no one else in the park at 6:30, I just let her run free.

The Blue River was mentioned in the books we read about the Oregon Trail. Rivers were perhaps the most hazardous obstacle the wagon trains faced. Finding a safe place to cross was critical. The water had to be shallow enough for the oxen to breathe, the bottom had to firm enough to give good footing to man and beast, the current not so strong as to carry the wagons away and the banks had to have a manageable slope. On a typical trip to Oregon, several people drowned and the oxen plus the cart they were pulling got washed away. River crossings were a much more real danger then Indian attacks.  Actually, at least initially, Indian attacks were quite rare. It was only after the number of people crossing the Country grew so large that the buffalo were being wiped out, that the Indians began to attack to drive the white man away in order to preserve their way of life. We all know how that turned out.

 About 8:30 we continued west following the Lincoln Highway. The Lincoln Hwy was built between 1913 and 1925 connecting New York City and San Francisco. Like the old Route 66, sections of the Lincoln Highway have been preserved. We spent a most interesting afternoon at the Great Platte River Road Archway near Kearney. It's a fascinating museum that tells the story of the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails as well as the Lincoln Highway. The museum is actually an archway spanning I-80.

From 60 million bison to 541. When we were in Minnesota a few years back, we visited a USFS exhibit on the timber industry in the Great Lakes area. There was a mural depicting the battle between conservationists and the timber industry in the mid-1800's. The Senator from Minnesota, who was against any controls on the industry,  stated "There is enough timber in this area to last for all future generations".  By 1900 there was no marketable timber left anywhere in the Great Lakes region. Let's see. Global warming is a hoax, air and water pollution is OK because it's too expensive to fix, mercury in your drinking water isn't all that bad, emissions from coal fired plants are not killing the forests, we're not overfishing the oceans, on and on and on. It's clearly time to eliminate the EPA and those whiny, tree-hugging liberals.

1950's Lincoln Hwy diner

And here we are tonight. A wide spot in the road.