|The Plains Indian Cultural Center in Lincoln|
Languid was the word of the day Tuesday, which was spent entirely within the confines of Lincoln, Nebraska's capital city. Lincoln was originally known as Lancaster, but the name was changed to Lincoln in honor of the executed president in 1867. At the same time the Nebraska territory gained statehood, the capital was moved to Lincoln in a bid to gain favor with those in the south of the state who were considering a bid to become annexed into Kansas.
After the longest hike so far I was ready to chill - and the need to do some computer work as well as laundry provided the excuse. I also communicated with mom, as I had discovered the absence of extra contacts amongst my possessions. Its pretty much a requirement of my personality that I must forget something of dire importance.
The problem was solved thanks to mom and my optometrist, Dr. Kent Anderson, who donated a six pack to the cause. My new eye balls are set to met me in Stromsburg on Saturday.
My tasks complete I entered the city center via the Rock Island Trail, the end of which promises to be a shining example of urban renewal. Once essentially an ugly rain culvert, the creek which runs through downtown is being turned into a lovely park with a small amphitheater as the centerpiece.
Next I turned onto the campus of Nebraska University, where I was kind enough not to mention their terrible record last year against my parents alma mater, Wisconsin, or the blowout bowl loss to South Carolina last January. I did have ulterior motives, because who wants to become just another statistic of urban violence, the dreaded scourge of our nation.
Ready for lunch, I stopped at the Southwest Pit, a small BBQ joint adjacent to campus. There were two tables inside and the cooker was out back. The odds of deliciousness appeared high. The Pit has a sandwich called the Big Hog, with pulled pork, bacon, cheese, and hot sauce. A sloppy mess - and I mean that as a sincere compliment - the tower of tasty nearly required me to beg for a fork and knife, but I persevered. Inducing multiple mouthgasms, the Big Hog is easily the best BBQ I've had outside of Twelve Bones in Asheville.
Sated, I did more languid strolling past Memorial Stadium, home turf of several national champion Husker football squads, and into the North Bottoms section of Lincoln. Named for the surrounding swamp rather than its resemblance to asses, the area was settled by a group of German refugees who had previously lived in Russia. The Deutchlanders had moved there when promised free land, no military conscription, and political autonomy. When the czar opted out of the deal in 1871, Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" popped into their heads and so they did. They arrived at North Bottoms and carved out a community of their own.
From the American dream I moved on to the American nightmare when I reached the Plains Indian Cultural Center. Clyde, Bobby, Allen, Frank, and Cody were all amused when I asked if they had a museum, then intrigued when I told them of my mission. In short order they offered to let me stay on the property. The beauty of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me on this trip. After all the natives of our land have endured you would think they would have trust issues by now. But they let me, a white man, spend the night - and I didn't even have to promise not to steal their land*.
*In all seriousness the Plains Cultural is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing job training, youth programs, housing, family planning, and food services to Native American people in need throughout Nebraska. Contact the center at 402-438-5231 and learn how you can help.
Special thanks to Dr. Amy McCandless aka Mom and Dr. Kent Anderson's office.
10 miles/1883 total miles