Day 4 Cheyenne to North Platte

Sunday August 8, 2010
We had a pretty short day today; so slept in a bit. After a weird breakfast where we had fun people watching, we  hopped back on I80 and it wasn’t long before we were in Nebraska

At about milepost 1 in Nebraska we turned off I 80 and found US 30; part of the Lincoln Highway

We’ve been looking for a DQ everyday for a milkshake; found one in a small Nebraska town; but it wouldn’t open until 11:30; after church I suppose. The handmade sign in the door says “Clean carpet; pleas clean your boots

When we were imagining our drive across Nebraska, we envisioned driving down a long corridor dwarfed by corn stalks on both sides. While we did see lots of corn, we saw a lot more. One of the prettiest was a field of sunflowers; proof that we didn’t stop just for trains.

We were close to the tracks most of the way. The train speed limit seemed to be 50 MPH while ours was 60 or 65. We caught up to one train, got around front and took a picture; then back in the car to get to the next spot. 

We ate lunch in Hoke’s cafe in Ogallala (sp?). Funky place. We got in just as they were getting ready to close. Everyone was paying their bill and leaving as we arrived. The waitress wasn’t all too pleased to see us, maybe she was just having a bad day. The guy in the booth next to us was raving about how good the ribs from the buffet were. We just split a BLT, an order of onion rings and a couple of chocolate shakes.
We stopped for a couple of historical markers; one was in honor of the first irrigation farm. The one in this picture was for California hill. Just south (behind us looking at the marker) is the location the emigrants crossed the South Platte River on their way to California and Oregon. Just north of of the marker (on the other wide of the marker) is California Hill which the emigrants climbed. Apparently there are still wagon ruts visible on California Hill 
Once we hit North Platte it took a little hunting to find the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center. It wasn’t that hard to see; it’s the tallest thing around, but getting to it proved a little tricky. 
This is one of the largest freight classification yards in the world. There are two complete yards; one each for eastbound and westbound traffic with a whole locomotive shop for each. One locomotive facility is for the EMD units; the other for the GE locos. The tower is on the EMD side. The 7th and 8th floors are viewing centers; the 7th floor is open air and looks north; the 8th floor is enclosed and circled the entire tower. There were a couple of retired Union Pacific employees there to talk with. One guy was a diner car steward on the City of Portland run in the 40’s and 50’s. This was the first class train between Chicago and Portland. We talked a bit about Portland; he had chosen that route because he had family in Camas, Washington
This is looking northwest from the tower
Here I am in train heaven. I was very thankful that it wasn’t storming as we had expected. 
As we looked east out of the tower we saw a cornfield with some designs cut in. I thought it was writing at first then figured out it was a corn maze. Carla had wanted to go in one on this trip, but this wasn’t open for business yet. We’ll have to come back for Carla’s birthday in September.

As we continued around; we saw what the maize maze will look like. It is done by the local boy scout troop.

After checking in to the hotel, we went to the movies to see The Other Guys; pretty funny. We had heard an interview with Will Farrel and the director on Fresh Air during our drive and heard a couple of stories about how they had to cut the film at just the right moment before the actors started laughing.
Coming back to the hotel we drove with the windows down and heard a huge racket of bugs (cicadas?) in the trees all over. They were loud. Walking from the car to the hotel there were little jumping bugs about the size of your pinky fingernail everywhere. Just outside the door to the hotel was the largest praying mantis I’ve ever seen with one of the little bugs on top. We ran up to the room, got the camera, came back and took a picture.

Tomorrow; more of the Lincoln Highway into Omaha. It’s a longer drive than today so we probably won’t stop so much.

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