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.