June 22, 2016
We are still headed back to Chicago. By my count this is our third trip on this route through Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa. To change things up a bit we shifted our drive. We left early afternoon on Sunday June 19 and only went as far as Baker City, Oregon – a little over 300 miles (rather than the 500+ to Twin Falls, Idaho).
We left Cheyenne, Wyoming around 8:00 AM and got back on Interstate 80 heading east. Cheyenne is close to the border with Nebraska and before long we came to the last rest stop – which is about 6000 feet above sea level. You can tell we are in the Rocky Mountains
Wyoming is a large, mostly empty, state with a speed limit of 80 mph; otherwise, you could never get anywhere. Some people say they hate driving through Nebraska; I find it very interesting. On the western end you are still up in the Rocky Mountains and you slowly lose elevation, picking up farm lands along the way.
We stopped for lunch in a little diner way off the freeway in downtown North Platte. We were the only tourists in a diner full of locals. We got the eye from everyone. They were all very nice: we had a nice conversation with folks in the booth across from our table, and with our waitress. We are in North Platte so you know we are going to make a quick stop at the Golden Spike Tower. This is an eight story tower situated just south of the main part of the Union Pacific classification and locomotive repair area on the main line. We went up to the seventh floor which has an open observation area where I caught a couple of photos.
We were right next to the locomotive repair and fueling stations
We also visited here back in August of 2010 – you can read about it here.
Turning 180° you get a totally different view of Nebraska – farmland.
You can tell by the pictures the sky was gray and a little low – nothing like the spectacular “Big Sky” country of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.
By taking an extra day we were able to have shorter driving days and stay in different towns. Instead of pressing on to Omaha we decided to spend the night in Lincoln, Nebraska. We headed down to the University and Haymarket district for dinner and a short stroll (short because it was 95° F).
We had dinner at Misty’s – a classic steak house in Lincoln for years. Carla and I shared a rib eye steak dinner with all the fixins. Everything was simply delicious. Then we went down to Ivanna Cone for some house-made ice cream. Oh, my – if you find yourself going through Lincoln, I highly recommend a stop for ice cream. As you stand in line you can see the large old-fashioned ice cream makers spinning away.
The old Burlington Route depot is nearby and they turned one of the old steam-era water towers into a fountain in this delightful part of downtown.
Lincoln, Nebraska is a very nice town with good places to eat and a nice area to walk around in. We thought about going to a local minor league baseball game, but the 95° temperature along with a brisk wind forced us to opt for a return to the hotel for some reading.