Iowa Bound

Wednesday Evening, Sept. 29
I had planned to stay in Crete tomorrow and talk to the middle school history classes but they were not interested in a presentation - therefore I am leaving in the morning.
The good news is that I figure I can be in Iowa in three days and with it will come a feeling of renewal. Nebraska is a wide state and though I have been walking at a pretty good clip it is not a state that is quickly traversed. It will be good to finally have it in my rear-view mirrors (I really do have mirrors).
I just ate great Chinese dinner at a restaurant across the street. Although I have been trying to eat healthily on this journey it hasn't been possible - mostly the issue has been simply trying to eat! At the moment it seems as if I can feel the vegetable nutrients coursing through my system and serves as a reminder of what I've been missing. I have a friend in Ohio that has promised me some home cooked meals and I'm going to take him up on it when I get there.
I would also add that I'm starting my third pair of shoes tomorrow. To be polite to the motel staff, I took the old ones pictured above and tossed them into the dumpster. You can guess why.
Thanks to my wife for sending them.

A Flag Quiz - Question 1

Having already published a history of the evolution of our American flag, I would like to add other flags that relate to our nation's history in some way. Therefore, I am creating an ongoing quiz. All the flags will represent an independent sovereignty that had territorial land claims and thus flew freely over a section of our present United States.
I will pepper these between blogs periodically to test your general flag and historical knowledge. If you know the answer - feel free to state it in the comment section. With each new question I will answer the previous one.
Here is flag question #1.
What nation did this flag represent and what sections were claimed or explored?

Thank You

Wednesday, September 29
I am now in Crete, Nebraska having walked nearly 80 miles in two and a half days. Obviously I‘m a little tired but I always bounce back quickly after a full night’s rest.
After checking into the motel I turned on my computer and was both surprised and emotionally moved by the many words of encouragement. I wish to sincerely thank each of you. It means much to know that I am supported in my goals.

Moonlight in the Fields

Tuesday, September 28
Nothing unusual today - just walking and walking some more. I did contact a middle school in Crete by telephone and talked to an assistant principal about the possibility of a presentation. The other schools had been contacted by email and I figured that this time the personal touch would do the trick. I explained that I was walking across the United States and the reasons why. I explained that I was toting a historical outfit and was a 36 year veteran teacher who was passionate about American history and I would love to talk to a class or two of students. She replied that she would talk to the principal and get back to me if they were interested. This time I had much more hope.
It is getting much harder to find a place to camp these days - gone are the more wild sections of the West. Scrub lands have been replaced by corn and beans and it is not easy to find a “crease” to slip into. As it was getting nearly dark I spied an opening a farmer had made with his tractor in a corn field and thought, “That’s the spot.” It was near the road but yet hidden from view so there I was lying amongst the stalks with the moon up.
Sounds “corny” but it was pretty cool.

The Bulges of Madison's County

Monday, September 27
Like the old saying, “ Things always look brighter in the morning,” and it is true. I had a good breakfast at McDonald's (an oxymoron?) and several older people came over to talk having seen my cart parked outside. Again, they gave me some advice and wished me well.
On the way from Hastings I passed a radio station and the news director, Tyson Havranek, came outside and asked if I would be willing to come into the station to be interviewed. I readily agreed and before you know it, there I was sitting with a microphone in front of me while he asked some general questions about my trip and purpose. This was my first time in a studio with knobs, dials, and microphones and it was an enjoyable experience. Fifteen minutes later I was on my way and feeling uplifted.
The rest of the day was pretty mundane - walking and trying to cover some distance since I had left late (seems like a regular occurrence when I stay in a motel) and had spent some time with the interview.
Later in the day as I was just about to start looking for a place to camp I heard a car pull in behind me. I looked in the mirror and saw it was a Clay County sheriff's car. He turned on his flashers and honked his horn for me to stop. He got out and asked for my identification so he could run it through the computer. I told him that I had done nothing wrong, that I was bothering no one, and that he had no legitimate reason for his actions asking him, “Do I look like a terrorist or something? He replied, “I don’t know. What does a terrorist look like?” I pointed out my cart, the flags, the Liberty Bell sign, and said, “Yes, that’s me! I’m a terrorist!” Officer Madison (that was his name) said that they had had plenty of people come through “his” county who were wanted by the law and for all he knew I was one of them. I felt that I was trapped in a "Smokey and the Bandit" or "The Dukes of Hazard" movie and had a hard time believing it was really happening.
The situation had started off confrontational and only got worse. A red-headed civil libertarian verses a Nebraska county sheriff officer. I will respectfully draw a curtain on the rest of our interaction.
I wish the reader to know that I do not support disrespect toward the police and I am not making light of the situation. Yet, the confrontation brings to light some serious questions. Had I done something that warranted his investigation of me I would have readily complied but I had done nothing wrong which he freely admitted. I was simply walking across the United States and traveling through “his” county which is the term he used. Some of you will say, “What’s the big deal - just comply with an officer that is trying to keep society safe.” I reply, “It’s the principle of the matter.” No matter how you feel - it generates a great discussion.
By the way, he said that now that he had “checked me out” and I came out clean he would radio the police ahead and tell them not to bother me.

Note: Even though I have been stopped by 11 previous officers, Officer Madison is the first to insist on a computer run to check me out. All the others had simply asked me how I was doing or what was I doing in curiosity.
I wish to add that I would not have complied with his request except that the Supreme Court has recently ruled that a citizen must identify himself when an officer of the law asks. It used to be that a law violation must first occur but this is no longer true. Therefore, I complied.


Sunday, September 26
Today was a 32 mile walk to Hastings and I experienced my first bout of mental depression since leaving Oregon. This depression had nothing to do with the physical walk and tired feet but was instead related to my secondary purpose - sharing my love of American history and the Constitution. I am beginning to feel that no one really cares. I suppose it started when not a single school even bothered to reply to my offer to talk to their history classes. I tried follow-up calls hoping to learn what I might better do in future solicitations and talked briefly with one principal. He said his school was busy trying to raise test scores and wished me well. Is this what education has come to?
I had been "mulling this over" on the walk from Kearney and then came my experience with the Boy Scouts. Camped next to me in Minden was a Scout troop and I thought, "What better group to ask about the meaning of freedom than some red-blooded American Scouts?" I walked over and explained my mission to the adult leader asking if he would discuss freedom with his Scouts and let me know what the boys shared. He looked at me like I was a freak - not a single answer did I receive.
Therefore, with cars zooming by, I was feeling rather lonely and insignificant as I walked on down the highway.
To tell the truth, I'm not sure if the most Americans think about or appreciate their freedoms. We like to wave flags, set off fireworks, and embrace Mom's apple pie. We readily use the term "freedom" but without substance it is only a cliche. Now don't get me wrong - everyone has been nice, everyone has been encouraging, and everyone has been quick to wish me well, but this very real question leaves most people lacking. Americans are quick to say what's wrong with the country or their feelings about the President but to answer a question like, "What does freedom mean?" almost makes them uncomfortable.
Perhaps this is all in my mind. Perhaps I've just hit a momentary mental wall.
I hope so - perhaps.

The Twilight Zone - Nebraska Football

Saturday, Sept. 25
It was a beautiful 22 mile walk from Kearney to Minden though, like always, it was windy. Along the way I stopped at old Fort Kearney and went through it's museum. It was the first fort in the Nebraska territory used to protect the Americans passing through "Indian Territory" along the old Platte River Trail. Originally, it had no fort walls - only buildings.
In Minden, after setting up camp I then looked for a place to eat and perhaps watch some college football. They have a small but nice looking downtown area but no one was there - no cars or people! It was like being in a Twilight Zone movie. The reason was Nebraska football. Everyone in the town was inside somewhere watching their beloved Cornhuskers play on television. I stood in the middle of the street and took some pictures with no fear of being run over. Check it out.

Leaving for Minden, Nebraska

Saturday, September 25
Well, my cart is packed and I'm about to start walking again. It rained heavily last night and I was thankful to be in a motel for I had just dried all of my gear. It would have been disappointing to have it get wet again so soon.
Before leaving I wish to express thanks to:
- the construction guys who let me travel on the new section of highway not yet open for cars. I had a full lane of new road to myself. Also thanks for the tip on where to camp and the rattlesnake warning.
- the woman who stopped and gave me 6 bottles of very cold water on the way to Kearney.
- the elderly lady who stopped and gave me $20 and a big hug insisting that I get myself something to eat.
- thanks to my cousin for seeking me out on his trip to Ohio from Arizona.
- and the biggest thanks goes to my lovely wife Cynthia, who sent me a care package of miscellaneous items including a new I Phone. Now I can hopefully take better pictures and even some video if I can figure out how to use it!
I also wish to thank to those of you who choose to follow this adventure and my corresponding blog.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Wednesday, September 22
Last night was the closest I’ve ever slept to the tracks. A passing train would cause the ground to rumble and shake and in a weird way it was cool. Train pathways are set with little variance and I felt perfectly safe.
In the morning as I was readying to leave a Union-Pacific truck came driving up. We had a friendly talk and they then drove on.
Today was hot and one of those days that seemed to quickly tire me out. I think it is the humidity that I am experiencing. In Oregon it is uncommon but not so for the Midwest. Another of those changes since leaving the high plateau. I expect to have a lot more of these days before the trip is finished.
Stopped at a historical marker where Indians attacked some railroad men operating a handcar and then wrecked and burned the train that followed. The Indians had a particular hatred for the trains for they, together with the telegraph, quickly hastened the end of their freedom and way of life. The railroad could quickly move troops and the telegraph could signal Indian movements. Chief Joseph’s Nez Pierce were caught this way before crossing into Canada and freedom. While being chased by O.O.Howard from the west he ran into Nelson Miles coming from the east.
I walked through Lexington and stopped at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. Took advantage of the sit-down time and charged my phone. The solar charger doesn’t seem to be working very well and it is always much easier to charge from an outlet.
Made camp in the corner of a field under threatening skies and practically nailed down the tent - so let it happen!

* Wyoming Border / Nebraska

The Evolution of the American Flag - Part II

The Red Ensign, flown on all British Colonial merchant ships and houses throughout the Colonies since 1674 was in a sense, our first national flag. It can be seen in John Trumbull’s painting, "Declaration of Independence," which hangs in the Capitol Building’s Rotunda in Washington D. C.. In the painting this flag hangs above the Signers in Independence Hall. The Red Ensign’s canton was later combined with the strips of the Sons of Liberty’s flag creating our first American flag - the Grand Union.

The Sons of Liberty Flag, adopted in 1767 originally had 9 strips that on some flags were horizontal and on others vertical. One story explaining the origin of the stripes is that they represented the nine states that attended the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 - a meeting of colonial leaders whose purpose was resistance to the Stamp Tax. We tend to portray the Sons of Liberty as heroic characters but this was not always the case. It was an underground resistance group lead by artisans and craftsmen but its masses were from the poor and disenfranchised. In those days a person could practically hire a riot by promising a roasted ox and a keg of rum, but once started, a riot is hard to extinguish. Our early American leaders knew this and also that mass loyalty is fickle and can easily turn. Many times a crowd went too far in its lawless destruction and the American Cause suffered from it.

The Continental Colors, was a combination of the British Red Ensign with the American Sons of Liberty's flag. (Some historians would argue that it was a copy of the British East India Tea Company's flag with slight variation). It was supposed to represent a still loyal American populace to British law, customs, and Britain itself if the American demands could be met. The first reference to this flag was when John Paul Jones supposedly flew it on his ship in December of 1775. This is also the flag that George Washington raised on Jan. 1, 1776, after taking command of the American militiamen in Boston. The Continental Colors would have been the one flown at the time of the Declaration of Independence later that year in July. This flag is considered the first true flag of the United States.

Having declared independence July 2, 1776, the Americans hurriedly sought allies for their war against Britain - among these were the American Indians. The most powerful were the six tribes of the Iroquois Nation which were anti-American and loyal to the King thus causing a grave threat. The Americans sought to break this centuries-old Indian alliance by courting the Oneidas with gifts and great promises. An Oneida delegation visited Congress in Philadelphia and when leaving asked for a flag that they might raise to show their American friendship. This request prompted Congress to pass on June 1, the Flag Act of 1777, creating a uniform flag for the United States (there were still many variations in use at that time). It stated: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."

One important aspect of the Flag Act is that it contained no declaration regarding the constellation of stars, thus you will see many variations of the early flag. Most people view this flag as the "Betsy Ross" flag which has become an urban myth unable to be debunked.
The original American flag was created by a delegate to Congress and signer of the Declaration - Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey. He submitted a bill to Congress for his efforts and was denied being told he was already paid enough for his services as a member of the Congress. (Try to imagine that happening today!) The perpetual "Betsy Ross Myth" was created in 1870 when her grandson, William Canby, wrote a book containing the fanciful story and the rest as they say - is history. She was indeed a seamstress and flag maker in Philadelphia and did make American flags but so did many others in the country.
Another note: Most Americans associate this flag with the Declaration of Independence though it was not created until almost a year later. This is mostly due to two historically incorrect paintings.
1. "Washington Crossing the Delaware" which was painted by German artist, Emanuel Gottlieb Leutz in 1851. Washington crossed the Delaware on December 25, 1776 and this flag did not exist at the time.
2. "The Spirit of 76" which was painted by Archibold Miller, an Ohio artist, for the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition celebrating 100 years of American Independence. Again, this flag did not exist in 1776 though to the artist's credit, the painting was originally called "Yankee Doodle" and later dubbed "The Spirit of 1776" by the American public.

In the beginning, as a new state was admitted to the country, a new star and a new stripe would also be added. This would eventually create design and proportion problems so in 1818 President James Monroe signed an act declaring that henceforth our flag would have 13 stripes and a new star for each state of the Union.
Contrary to another popular myth - the colors of our flag have no meaning.

In Kearney, Nebraska

Thursday, Sept. 23
Last night it rained and did not quit. In the morning I lay in my sleeping bag hoping it might perhaps stop but as it did not, my normal routine now became a wet adventure. A friend once said that setting up and taking down a camp in the rain is an art - for me it is just wet! I rather “artlessly” packed my stuff, donned my gear, and headed down the wet highway. The good news was that today I would finally get to Kearney and a motel in which to dry.
I stopped at the cafe in Elm Creek - another agricultural town with massive silos and grain elevators. There is a certain smell it produces and I’m sure to someone working there it simply smells like money. Anyway, it was good to have a regular breakfast. My caloric intake is increasing along with the increasing population. Each new community already seems less distant from the last and I’m sure this will continue as I continue east. Cafes and small stores were hard to find walking through the American West. In a weird way I already miss it.
Later in the day, the sun came out in full glory and you could watch the water vapors evaporate into the air. It reminded me of Florida after a heavy summer rain making the air thick with moisture and humidity.
Nearing Kearney I passed a historical sign about a very large ranch that had once been located there. It was named “1733 Ranch” because it was 1,733 miles from both San Francisco and Boston which means I’m now over halfway finished.
Soon after I got a surprise phone call from Glen Mellott - my friend and cousin. He was driving from Arizona to Ohio and wanted to surprise me. We met in Kearney and had a great time talking and catching up. Seeing an old friend is uplifting, yet it is always followed by a sadness as my solitude becomes more real.
I will stay in Kearney another day for the regular - chores and bringing my blog up to date.

Holy Smokes! Wild Weed in Nebraska!

Tuesday, September 21
I had been walking for 27 miles and was looking for a place to camp. It was growing dark as I passed through the small town of Brady and I needed to find a place soon. Finally, a mile east of town on a gravel spur connecting the RR to the highway, I set-up the tent and crawled in for the night.
In the morning as I sat drinking my coffee I looked to my left and thought, “That plant sure looks like marijuana. No, it couldn’t be.” I then looked to right and said to myself, ”That sure looks like marijuana!” Then I rose from my chair and walked up to it and said, “Yo! This is marijuana!” Pot was all around me! I remembered reading that during WWII the farmers grew hemp for making rope and that it now grew wild along the railroads and highways of the American Midwest and sure enough - here I was camped in the middle of it! I called a friend on the phone and he checked the internet and my memory was correct - it was wild hemp in Nebraska! I’m not sure where it began but I continued to see it for the next 50 miles to Kearney.
I offer no opinion on the subject. Like FOX News, “I report - you decide.”

Kearney, Nebraska - 95 Miles Hence

Monday, September 20
Today I will continue walking Highway 30 toward Kearney.That means four days of walking and three nights of sleeping out unless there is something available in between. As the prairie becomes replaced by crops it will require an adjustment as to where I am able to set my tent. I am beginning to feel, perhaps prematurely, that people and settlements will become more regular from here eastward - it sure couldn't be any less.
I have also entered a new time zone. I am now in Central Standard time and share the hour with Chicago. I'm pretty amazed with that. It is now 2 hours difference when I call home to Oregon.
I believe Highway 30, often called the Lincoln Highway, was the first road to completely cross the nation and it helped lead to the formation of our modern Interstate Highway System because it was such a terrible road. Dwight Eisenhower, as a young Army officer, traveled it cross-country with an military convoy when half of the crude road was dirt. Later during WWII, Eisenhower saw the paved Autobahn system of Germany and this influenced his future support for building the Interstate Highway System we have today.
I had breakfast this morning in a little country style restaurant and talked to some men about my mission and asked if they would like to share any thoughts. As often happens, one man dominated the discussion. When I went to leave, another of the men who had been relatively quiet came up and began to talk. I eventually had to dismiss myself for he had so much he wished to share and I need to get packed and out of here. I didn't have my notebook with me but will try to remember some of what he said.
Today the temperature is supposed to climb right back to 90 degrees so I better get moving. It is always easy to dally when leaving a motel. Before leaving I will send my first emails to a couple of schools inquiring about the possibility of doing a presentation while dressed in my historical outfit. We'll see what happens. I've included a picture of my display that I use for schools in Oregon. Obviously I do not have this with me but I do have my costume. Hopefully, I will get an invitation to speak.

The Evolution of the American Flag Part I

St. George’s Cross has been recognized as the flag of England since the time of the Crusades. It became the official flag of England and Wales in 1277 and can still be seen today hanging in windows of English nationalists or being waved at sporting events. This is the flag that fluttered over Jamestown, Plymouth, and other early English settlements in America. In 1606 with the official union of Scotland and England, the two nations’s flags were interposed to create what is commonly called the "Union Jack." Both flags were used for the next 100 years - the Union Jack being used for Britain’s maritime ships and St. George’s Cross for her land settlements. After 1707 the Union Jack would be used for both.

Scotland's St Andrew’s Cross, though never officially flown in the American Colonies, has had its influence on our country nevertheless. As stated, it was combined with England’s St. George’s Cross in 1606 to symbolize the union of Scotland with England and Wales.
St. Andrew’s Cross was also used by the Confederate States of America to create what is called the Confederate “Battle Flag” in its war against the North as many of the white Southerners had Scottish heritage.
Note: We often mistakenly refer to this as an “X” when it is actually a cross based on the execution of Christ’s disciple Andrew. He supposedly felt unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus and was granted this last wish by his executioners.

The Union Jack was created in 1606 to symbolize the Union of England and Scotland. The light blue of the Scottish flag was darkened so that it would not fade so readily at sea. This flag flew over the American Colonies from 1707 until Independence. Though similar to the modern Union Jack, an astute observer would notice a difference. Do you recognize it?

North Platte, Nebraska

Fri./ Sat., Sept. 18,19
I am now in a motel in North Platte having walked 53 miles from Ogalla. Yesterday was a perfect day for walking - sunny, cloudless, and cooler. I hope to have many more of these as autumn continues its approach. I have also been noticing a change in the landscape - the dry hills are receding and more of the land is now under cultivation. Trees are also starting to make an appearance dotting the landscape here and there.
Today’s weather was yesterday’s opposite and provided me with a new challenge - cold rain. It started as a foggy mist but soon turned into a steady drizzle. All the while the temperature continued to drop finally settling at 45 degrees. It is bad enough dealing with the natural rain but add to this the spray of every passing car! I view today as a reminder to try to better weatherize my trailer before the rain becomes a regular companion.

Leaving Ogallala

Friday, Sept. 17
In just a short while I will begin walking the 52 miles to North Platte, Nebraska. I would prefer to stay in Ogallala another day but each day of delay adds another at the end of my journey. Though it is officially still summer, I have noticed some birds already beginning to migrate providing fair warning of what is yet to come. With that thought - I really must move on.

Random Thoughts III

In Wyoming, every eating establishment offered “Buffalo Burgers” on the menu but I haven’t noticed this in Nebraska at all.

When I stay in a cheap campground it seems there are always poor people living there just trying to maintain. I feel lucky that I am there for a day and gone.

They now make railroad ties from cement. I didn’t know that.

I’m not a sports guy but I do enjoy college football. One of these days it would be nice to be in a motel on a Saturday.

Styrofoam cups and plates, which have pretty much disappeared in Oregon, have resurfaced.

Killdeer have also resurfaced. They were constant companions of mine while walking in Oregon and Idaho but dropped off at the Rockies but are now back.

Saw another guy in a Wyoming store exercising his 2nd Amendment rights with a gun on his hip. I support the right but am still a little unsettled seeing it, probably because he has one and I don’t. Makes me want to get an equalizer - just kidding.

There are some major sized toads in Nebraska. Hadn’t noticed toads all summer and here they are.

What’s with these new bumper cargo carriers I see all the vacationers sporting? How does this jibe since they totally cover your rear license plate? I had a policeman stop me once because my license plate light was out and it couldn’t be read after dark. Is this legal?

In Oregon, my home state, we do not have a sales tax. If something cost $.99 you receive a penny in return from a dollar. Surrounded now by sales taxes I always have an overabundance of pocket coins.

I have been following the railroads and the trains seem to run constantly carrying coal from the Wyoming coal fields. Many of the engineers have gotten to know me by seeing me walking now for weeks. It is always an uplift when they toot their whistle in recognition.

I experienced my first frost of the season September 6, south of Lusk, Wyoming. It was so cold my hands were stiff. A harbinger of what’s to be.

A week ago when leaving Scottsbluff, I talked briefly to a man with a new Harley-Davidson. I complimented him but he said it wasn’t loud enough and he needed to have the engine amplified. I asked him why that was necessary and he looked at me like I was stupid replying, “It has to be loud so they can see me!”

I don’t mean to make anyone mad, but Nebraska, Wyoming, and Idaho all need to get their bottle return act together and charge a deposit. This issue has little to do with freedom and would help clean up their roadways.

Men, in groups, are often hesitant to state their opinions - in particular if they are not close friends.

History is not a dead subject!

No one stops at 70 mph. We live our lives at that speed but at what costs?

There are a lot of moths in Eastern Wyoming. I’m not sure why.

The numbers of animals killed on the highways has dropped off since I have entered more of an agricultural region.

I have yet to see a live rattlesnake. I have seen many dead ones with the most and largest being in Western Nebraska.

When is a grasshopper a locust or a locust a grasshopper? My guess is that one locust is a grasshopper and thousands of grasshoppers are locusts.

Sand spurs are everywhere. I knew of them from Florida and if you don't know what they are - you better leave your shoes on. No wonder cowboys wear boots!

I still stop to pick up pennies. I just can’t help myself for it’s an old habit.

I saw three pot plants in a garden mixed in with their sunflowers. I wanted to take a picture but there were cars in the driveway.

The badgers have disappeared but raccoons have reappeared.

The corn fields are happening and are in full swing. I can only imagine it gets greater as I continue east. After all - this is Cornhusker territory.

It is sometimes hard to believe the temperature differences between night and day.

I have now walked about 1600 miles.

In Ogallala, Nebraska

Wednesday, Sept. 15
I awoke before dawn wanting to get an early start for Ogallala, Nebraska, 30 miles away. This distance represents a little more walking than I have been averaging lately but like a tired horse heading for the barn - I too needed to get there having spent the last 4 nights and 5 days in the fields. I was ready for a shower and a bed.
Unfortunately, a highway detour presented itself and I ended up traveling Highway 92 on the north side of Lake McConaughy adding another 7 miles to town. I was emotionally low while digesting this news but what could I do but to grin and bear it? Like a child crying over a necessary chore - it still awaits you when the cryings done. Better just to plow through it which I did.
Early in the morning I used my pepper spray for the first time. An aggressive dog came tearing across the road and tried to bite me while ignoring my commands so I squirted at him but missed. He then backed off continuing his threats from a safer distance. I was sorry I missed for at that intense moment I wanted to nail him. It comes out like a squirt gun and next time I won't be off my mark.
I won't bore you with a mile by mile posting but let it suffice to say that I was quite happy to finally get to Ogallala and check into a motel.
The 38 or 39 miles walked today represents my current personal record.

Dos Cervezas Por Favor

Tuesday, Sept. 14
Got up before dawn and started down the road toward Oshkosh, Nebraska. It became foggy for the first time of my trip and I proudly turned on my blinking taillights as I hurriedly walked the 11 miles with visions of eating real food. Tumbling quite famished into the only cafe I ordered a large breakfast and while waiting, conversed with a farmer’s wife and her octogenarian mother who were local residents. They were supportive of my journey and I gave them a business card.
The rest of the day was again hot and as I entered the little town of Lewellan I walked up the street looking for a store to buy a juice and snack but none were to be seen - what I did see instead was a tavern. Hmmm.... I honestly haven’t been in a tavern the entire trip but I was thirsty and do I need to spell it out ? B-E-E-R! I walked in and ordered a pint and as the only customer I had the owner’s full attention. He had been raised in Bend, Oregon, so we had that connection and it only got better. He poured me another, then would not take a dime from me and instead gave me $20 and wished me all the best. At the town’s edge was a campground with running water and electricity and I felt like I was in the Hilton for the night.
By the way, today’s road had the nicest bicycle lanes I have experienced - wide and with new cement.

What's Bugging Me?

Monday, Sept. 13
Early this morning I passed some farmers talking around a pick-up truck truck across the road. One of them yelled something which I did not comprehend and they all laughed in response. Not being easily intimidated I crossed the street and waded right into their group joining them in conversation. They ribbed me and I gave it right back which they seemed to enjoy. Fifteen minutes later they asked for my business card which made me feel I had left a positive impression.
I continued for the next twenty-five miles on Highway 26 following the North Platt. The road parallels the river from a distance of 1/4 to 1 mile with dry cattle lands between and consequently a real view of the river is rare. Instead you must content yourself to follow the meandering green provided by the Cottonwoods that line its banks.
Today - a scorcher - was hotter than it has been in quite some time. It is amazing that we can be heading toward autumn and a day can still be so hot. I ate my lunch beside the roadway with my hat providing the only shade. I am particularly grateful for my chair - it is a luxury to sit above the ground.
Hours later I made camp in a low field opposite the railroad tracks which kept me from view of passing cars. It was so hot that I first created a shade wall and sat behind it for quite some time. It looks rather crude but is highly efficient. Sitting there in the makeshift shade my only irritant was “bugs”
In Steven Ambrose’s book, "Undaunted Courage," the men of the Lewis & Clark Expedition had no problems with mosquitoes while in the high desert due the lack of puddles and slow moving water - not so when on the Great Plains. There they were plagued and tormented. How had I forgotten that? When my wife Cynthia recently returned to Oregon she took back my mosquito netting for over your hat. I had never yet used it so I told her to take it with her - talk about lack of foresight! Now here I was being attacked by mosquitoes, gnats, and various type of bitting flies. I applied insect repellent to my face but it only kept them from landing. The hoards were so thick that I began to breathe in small gnats flying into my nose and I ended up putting a cloth over my face in order to breathe. The Platt River meanders slowly leaving a rich breeding ground for insects. How did the pioneer people deal with it? Bear grease? Smoke?
One funny aspect of this is that they disappear with the cool of the evening and at breakfast are nowhere to be seen.

Chimney Rock and Beyond

I usually try to edit my notes before posting them to my blog but I will share them today as written.

Sunday, Sept. 12
At the moment I am holding off an army of small gnats and flies with bug cream from REI. They are so numerous being near the river that it would be impossible to sit out here without it.
At this new very moment a truck has pulled in and is “checking me out” which is causing my heart to pound as I write this. I am ignoring him acting as if he isn’t here. I figure he has got to be a pretty gutsy guy to come over here and mess with me.
He’s pulled out (I think there were two of them) and has gone on down the road. Better get my mace out for the night.
I was run out of my original spot by aphids of all things. I’ve dealt with grizzley bears and mosquitoes and who would have thought aphids! There were thousands of them on my tent, camping gear, socks and shoes, - everywhere! Had to move!
I’m being driven into my tent as I write by the gnats and same.
Still out...
Had a cup of tea and am currently boiling water for a Mountain Home dinner.
Notes on Today:
Left late - it was a beautiful campsite with the sunrise and water. Had a second cup of coffee.
Saw Chimney Rock - a traditional pioneer landmark.
Breakfast didn’t do it so I had to stop and eat some more.
Left Chimney Rock behind but saw Court House Rock and Jail Rock (I’d never heard of those two).
Is this the original “Jailhouse Rock?”