Archive for October, 2009

Still waiting…3rd day
October 30, 2009

I was thinking there would be nothing to post today…but when I talked to Hilary today she said “Mom, post more pictures! I love seeing where you are.” I’ve also heard from a number of sources (e-mail, Facebook and our comment page) that there are some jealous Cabela’s fans out there… So Hilary, and sportsmen, these are for you!

You can click on any photo in this gallery to enlarge it.

Waiting out the storm in Sidney…
October 29, 2009

Yesterday we traveled a few hundred miles south from the northwestern corner of Nebraska and hunkered down to wait out the winter storm. Shortly after we arrived we learned that interstate 80 heading into Wyoming was going to be closed. Our RV park started filling up, the truck parking filled up, the truck stop filled up, Wal-Mart parking lot filled up…there are semi’s everywhere. We will be here until at least Friday. Thankfully, we are not on a strict time schedule and waiting for us means finding something constructive to do with our time…

We found refuge at Cabela’s world headquarters. Because we are not experienced outdoorsmen or campers (we just pretend to be them on this trip) we didn’t know what we were in for… What an amazing place! There is not only a huge Cabela’s store, but an RV park, corrals for your horses, conference rooms, a deli, a fudge store… The store itself has hundreds of animals inside. It is quite a sight! And with hot showers 10 steps away, laundry, cable and internet for $17.00 a night, it is the right price too!Cabela's We sent the kids on a scavenger hunt in the massive store the first night and the employees were even helpful; they steered Tyler right to the rattlesnake boots he was searching for. Today they asked if we could do another one…hmm…sounds like science class to me! Their job was to classify all the animals they could in the given time frame (mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and birds). They loved it!

If the video is “choppy,” let it play completely through one time (it is downloading the first time) and replay it.

Mount Rushmore by Amber
October 29, 2009


Yesterday, my family and I went to Mount Rushmore in the black hills of South Dakota. It was an amazing sight with the lights, flags and the detail. We first visited during the daylight, but after dinner, we went back to take more pictures of the amazing monument while it was all lit up.

 Here are some facts about Mount Rushmore:

-It was carved in granite.

-The faces are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore    Roosevelt.

-It took 360 people to make the monument.

DSC01136-Here is how the faces were chosen; Washington standing for independence; Jefferson for democracy; Lincoln for equality; and Roosevelt for his role in world affairs .

– The sculptor was Gutzon Borglum.

– To make the faces they first used dynamite, then something called honeycombing, and then the granite was smoothed.

– They had to do one face at a time. President Jefferson’s face originally was on the other side of Washington, but after two years of work the granite was cracked, and had to be blasted off. They started again on the left side of Washington.

Mount Rusmore at night


Chimney Rock on the Oregon Trail by Tyler
October 29, 2009

Oregon! The very word gave them visions of paradise. Between 1840 and 1869, over 500,000 pioneers followed the Oregon trail. This 2000 mile trail went from Missouri to Oregon. Not everybody survived because of sickness, accidentally getting shot, or run over by their wagons. Their shoes got worn out easily from walking so much so they traded some of their things with the indians for new shoes.Chimny Rock

This is a picture of Chimney Rock. When Pioneers saw this, they were happy that their journey was 1/3 over but sad that this was a sign of the mountains ahead.


(Here is where Tyler ran out of writing steam but had more to say…)

We visited Chimney Rock.  It is in the shape of a chimney and very tall (over 300 feet). We were amazed!  We watched a video and saw real pictures and worked together to load up a wagon. We put in dried apples, lots and lots of flour, salt pork, lots of water, a piece of silver (for money), pots for cooking, silverware, one of those things a blacksmith uses – not a hammer (an anvil), coffee, molasses, a dresser, a cradle and some bed things.  There was no room for us in the wagon.DSC01120DSC01124

 PS (from mom) Chimney Rock was an important landmark during other journeys too, like the California Trail and the Mormon Trail.

Remember friends, we called this the Way Big Adventure, not the Way Big Tropical Vacation!
October 28, 2009


Our backyard - Tuesday 4pm

This is a super quick post. After we set up camp on what I consider a mountain in the northwestern corner of Nebraska, (Scott said, “No honey, these aren’t mountains yet!) I sat down to update our post… and discovered we had no internet. I have plenty of photos from our recent excursions, but those will have to be posted later. I think you might find these just as interesting.


Our backyard - Wednesday 8am


Amber is holding a ruler in the snow -- 8 inches!

As soon as Amber and Tyler woke up and looked outside they could hardly contain themselves. It was like Christmas!  Dad couldn’t get the “snow-clothes bin” out fast enough. They had a ball working on an igloo, and having a snowball fight while mom and dad packed up, sholved out, closed up, hooked up…needless to say we wDSC01153ere on a “school delay” this morning because of snow!



And, just like at home, they were ready for hot cocoa when they came in. Thanks so much aunt Jill for sending your homemade cocoa! How did you know?

More Explorations…
October 26, 2009

North Platt building billboard

We spent our last afternoon in North Platte visiting the last few “must see” places. After school in the morning we set out to see William Frederick Cody’s (aka Buffalo Bill’s) estate. In his day he was the living symbol of the American west.  He became a Pony Express rider at 14 years old and once rode 322 miles in 21 hours exhausting 20 horses.He was later hired by the railroad to kill buffalo which provided meat for the workers. He killed 4,280 buffalo in 8 months. His wages were a whopping $500.00 per month! He settled in North Platte and started his “Wild West Rodeo Show” eventually joining the Barnum and Bailey Circus. The cost to build this house was $3,900.00 in 1886.

Click on any photo in this post to enlarge it.

October 25, 2009

Union Pacific Railroad

Union Pacific Railroad

While some of the museums and sites we would like to visit are closed on Sundays, we still found plenty to do this afternoon to occupy our time. North Platte is home to Union Pacific Railroad’s Bailey Yard, the largest in the world. Union Pacific celebrated the grand opening of this yard in 1869 boasting transportation from the Altantic to the Pacific. Currently this yard handles 15,000 rail cars every 24 hours. The east and westbound cars are sorted into 114 “bowl” tracks where they become part of trains heading all over the country. We got to view the enormous yard from the top of the ‘Golden Spike’ tower. The view of the 8 mile yard was amazing! We watched trains pass through, cars hook together, we could see the foothills of the Black Hills to the north and the huge Platte River basin…and while I rarely put my camera down, I now realize I do not have one picture of what we saw from atop that tower! It must have been the altitude! DSC01077

We also enjoyed a Sunday drive in search of some historical markers. Our first was a Pony Express Station rightfully placed near a present day horse farm. The Pony Express was a mail service between California and Missouri.DSC01086 The brave riders would hop on a new horse every 10 miles on their 200 mile route before passing the mail to another rider. It took only eight days for the Pony Express to get a letter to Sacremento, but the service was replaced after just a few years by the telegraph.

North Platte
October 24, 2009

Driver Down

Driver Down

After two long days of traveling we were ready to stop, rest and explore for a while. This area has a number of historical sites we plan to see, but today (Saturday) we needed to stop and catch our breath.

We had breakfast at Penny’s Diner, just around the corner from our campsite. The kids enjoyed watching our breakfast being cooked just four feet away from us. Scott and the kids plan to sneak back a little later and grab a malt or a root-beer float. Yum! While we were blessed with a gorgeous day, (64 and sunny) we did see piles of snow in the parking lot; remnants of the 17 inches they got two weeks ago, as explained by our waitress. DSC01062

As I was cleaning, doing laundry and cooking, (the first I’ve prepared at a complete stop – I’m used to 55mph dinners) Scott unloaded the bikes and took the kids for a ride. They found a bike trail that follows the Platte River and were completely suprised by a rattlesnake stretched across the path.  Of course dad felt that it was a Kodak moment (I think the snake might have felt differently). Take note of the two horrified children in the background who feared their father was about to die right before their eyes.




Corn Country
October 23, 2009

Iowa was full of corn, corn, corn and windmills. Tyler counted 127 of them near the town of Adair, then had to stop because they were going by faster than he could count. There were at least 20 or 30 in every field. Amazing! I never knew windmills grew in corn fields!

World’s Largest Truckstop
October 23, 2009

After stopping in Grand Rapids for lunch with Don and Stacy, we had a long drive to make it inside the Iowa border. The kids loved their first day of  RV-school (who doesn’t love the first day?) but after that Amber thought the day was very, very, very long. Our driver just might agree. I let him sleep in this morning, but I was startled awake by the roar of the Diesel right beside us at 4am. After breakfast Scott took the kids inside to see “The World’s Largest Truckstop.” The eight minutes of quiet in the RV were delightful. The best part is that it only took me four minutes to clean it!

That is a full size tractor/trailer inside the store. It was one of three.
That is a full size tractor/trailer inside the store. It was one of three.

My serenity was short lived… Scott and the kids just didn’t want me to miss it.  This truck stop has a museum, barber, dentist, jeweler, and movie theater on site. I even saw some cute shoes and purses! We made it out of there with a couple stuffed animals and a toothbrush.