Monday, January 16, 2012
Part Two: Preview: Part One
I'll be kicking off the second half of my travels across the United States on Friday, April the 13th in Omaha, Nebraska. I left off at the Blumkin Theatre for Performing Arts and so will head out from there with the goal of the Pacific only a few million (maybe billion, I always lose count around 50,00) steps away.
There are several challenges this time around which I have never encountered before so overcoming each will be daunting to say the least. If you are just joining us, please keep in mind, before I walked 1800 miles last year, I had never done anything like this before. As a result I will probably die or be disfigured during the second, more difficult half of the journey, which should prove to be entertaining, so stay tuned for that inevitable development.
Anyway, I figured since we have some time on your hands while we wait for the snow pack to melt in the Rockies maybe a preview was in order. Today we'll politely discuss Nebraska with an informal panel composed of me, myself, and I. I don't have much to say so let's hope the rest of our guests can provide some enlightening information.
Most people I have talked to who have driven in Nebraska use the words dull, boring, or coma-inducing to describe the landscape. The ADT trail directory, which decided to use a picture of a sod hut and irrigation canal for their illustrations, hardly raises my level of enthusiasm. I did hear some of the same negativity about Iowa, however, and could not have disagreed more after seeing the wilderness (yes they have some) and meeting the people there. Walking is obviously quite a different experience than driving in more ways than one.
The American Discovery Trail consists mainly of country roads throughout the state, mostly following along the length of the Platte River. I will follow in the path of the Oregon Trail pioneers, although I do hope to avoid cholera. On the plus side I am unlikely to have an oxen die on me.
The eastern part of Nebraska should prove to be the easier portion, with several small towns giving me an opportunity to enjoy civilization from time-to-time. Two larger cities, Lincoln and Kearney will provide some culture. Lincoln hosts the University of Nebraska, where I should have a chance to query the student body as to the reason for their lack of success against the University of Wisconsin this year. The only hiking trails on Nebraska ADT carry me into and across the town, which is also the fourth state capital the I'll have visited so far.
Kearney possesses a state university as well as one of the forts where I believe I buried Rambo on my reconnaissance mission (I played my old copy of "Oregon Trail" a couple of times to get the lay of the land). I will need to replenish my stores here as the population thins out a mite once I move west. Shooting bears and not squirrels will be key and obscure references to an old video game will cease from now on, I promise.
Upon leaving Kearney the way becomes tougher as I enter a semi-arid region known as the Sand Hills, so called for the dunes there, which rise as high as 330 feet. Part prairie and part desert, finding potable water may prove to be a challenge throughout the last couple hundred miles. The Platte trickles aside my path as well as the Tri-County Canal, so hopefully they will be kind enough to contain some water. Otherwise I will have to hurry between the two lakes and one reservoir I pass by during the last couple of hundred miles before the Colorado border.
I could complain about Nebraska and I probably will later for the pure entertainment value. Not because I will really be miserable, but I need to save up some whining for the much more difficult Colorado Rockies. I am of course not talking about the pitiful baseball team.
Join us next time for dreadful doom when we preview Colorado!
Thanks to Colin McCandless, Bill Patterson, and Jill Wiggins for the first contributions of 2012!