Stop 2 @ Flying Bee Ranch LLC south of McGrew NE
Didn’t get quite as early start as I wanted. Working on the blog script kept me longer than I had wanted. I stopped at a little city park in Oberlin Ks, located on US 83, before entering Nebraska. At McCook I turned west on US 6 to Imperial. At Imperial, I was to head northward on NE 61 and come out at Ogallala and head westward to Bridgeport on US 26. Wellllllllll. . . . . . . .
It didn’t turn out that way. I missed the turn off at Imperial. By the time I definitely realized I had, it was too far to go back. So Plan B (which I made up just then) - that was to keep heading west and take US 385 at Holyoke CO northward to Julesburg, then catch up with I-80 somewhere - hopefully around Bridgeport. It worked.
I enjoyed driving through the hillsides of southwest Nebraska following such creeks as Frenchman, Horse Canyon, Boothill Creek. It is referred to as the Prairie Lakes area. Frenchman Creek enters into the Enders Reservoir and then eventually ends up in the Republican River. Many of the cottonwood trees were starting to turn the chartreuse color that many get when the cooler weather comes in. In fact, my first two nights I needed a blanket.
Whoa pardner, this is it for the night I told my crew of Big Red and Eggie as we alighted among the midst of thousands of hoppers and flies. Boy, did I quickly get my truck windows up tight; but not fast enough.
Not only am I sharing a spot with those creatures, but have seen a toad or two, heard the coyotes at dusk and dawn, and saw a bighorn sheep on my first morning. Louise, co-owner with her husband, said that several years ago Fish & Wildlife reintroduced big horn sheep south of the Ranch up in the Wildcat Mt. In fact, when Louise was telling me about the bighorn sheep, several Fish & Wildlife guys were driving down the road past the campground. She said when the original bighorn were released they tagged and GPS coded them, so that’s what they were possibly doing this morning. Oh, and this is rattlesnake country too.
The first night I was the only one here, the second night a couple from Pennsylvania had rented the cabin for a night. Tuesday was a quiet day for me, sorta get my bearings and hash over what I wanted to see and do and mainly just enjoy the quiet and beautiful country. The winds came up in early morning and pretty soon my eyes were bothering me so I stayed inside the most of the day. Dark and ominous clouds that showed up in mid-afternoon, along with stronger winds, were messing up my plans to cook my steak fingers on my little Coleman Fold N Go Grill I bought recently. Was going to do corn on the cob too but think my corn got froze in the refrigerator like my bag of lettuce. Anyhoo, will use my toaster oven for the steak fingers and wrap the corn in tinfoil and cook in the oven too. My supper the first night here was applesauce, chocolate cake and grape-cranberry juice. I was tired and went to bed around 8:30 MT
Got my steak fingers cooked in the toaster oven, boiled the corn and fixed rice for supper. Corn ended up being pretty darn good. After sup, visited with the folks from PA. They are on their way to spend a week in Glacier National Park. In bed around 10 p.m. and slept pretty good.
Wednesday: Slept ‘til 7 a.m. this morn, had breakfast, unhitched the trailer and got it stabilized as the wind was coming up again as well as rain.
First headed for Gering and the Gering Bakery. I have a book called “Road Food”, by Jane & Michael Stern, and it has thousands of those little mom ‘n pop operations, locally owned places to get something to eat. The Gering Bakery is listed for this area, as well as Al’s Diner in Melbeta. First the Bakery, oh my it’s one of those that has miles and miles of bakery goods! I got one of each cookie! And, a cinnamon twist to go. In addition, Nebraska is known for the Runza, which I think is a registered trademark now, so they have the Cabbage Burger. The runza is like the bierocks you find in Kansas except they have a bit of a sweeter dough surround the cabbage. So I couldn’t leave Nebraska without getting a locally made runza for supper tonight. I showed the owner the book I had and she read what it said about the Bakery.
The other place is Al’s Diner and it was run by a 90 plus year old woman Ruth Neal. When the book was published (2008), she was 92. April 15th 2008, she fell and broke her hip and had to give up Al’s Diner. She was still cooking at the time. She is still living and is in Scottsbluff. I visited with the present owner about the place and he showed me around. It’s even written, on the calendar, the day she fell. I heard tell she fried up smaken' good fried chicken. And, as she had put it, her cooking ain’t done her no harm! The present owner told me that the building was moved from the former W.W.II Internment Camp just a few miles to the north. It was the mess hall. He also said, that many of those interned there, moved back to the area after the War was over.
After the Bakery, I drove westward to Scotts Bluff National Monument, just west of Gering. Visited the Visitor Center, watched a slide show on the area and drove to the top of Scotts Bluff. Since the wind was, again, blowing strongly and bothering my eyes, I chose to drive up and walk around. i ran into the “cabin renters” who had hiked up. It’s referred to as ”500 Feet of Great Plains Past”. To the weary travelers, on the Oregon Trail or Mormon Trail, the Bluffs was the end of the Central Plains/Great American Desert and the beginning of the Rockies.
I headed south on NE 71 to Robidoux Trading Post, which was located along an older section of the Oregon Trail crossing through Carter Canyon, until the Mitchell Pass was used thus cutting off a day of travel for the westward travelers.
Back to the campground, nap and supper. Wind started dying down around 5 but didn’t
need the Grill tonight. Runza here I come! Thursday, it’s visit the town of Bridgeport and Chimney Rock. Will head to northwest Nebraska on Friday morning.