September 8, 2014 Room 320 Comfort Inn Kearney, Nebraska
Today, we got up to beautiful cool breeze with a bit of a smell and feel of impending rain—it never came and the wonderful 60’s temperature quickly rose to an almost 90 degrees by the time we entered Nebraska around Lincoln. But before leaving Adair, we toured the town in which we had slept so deeply and comfortably. So many of these towns have red brick roads, at least in the town central. Some of them are in better shape than others, of course. As we crossed the bridge across the brook we noticed that the road was the old Rt 6, the White Pole Road. Drove into the City Park in which several motorcyclists had pitched tents and spent the night. There was also the monument mentioning the first train robbery in the West, carried out by Jesse James and his pals. How does one know this is the first train robbery in the West??? And, considering this is not the location labeled on the map, what is one to believe?
With a last glance at our resting spot we left town on County Road G 32 only to find that had we continued through town on old 6 rather than retracing our steps to the motel, we would have been on the same road. At any rate, finally noticing the lower part of the telephone poles we saw why this is called the White Pole Road—one of those DUH moments! And lo and behold there is the Jesse James park—what I call a pull off—and another monument. This one at least is alongside a railroad track which runs along with the road into Anita. The welcome sign’s significance escapes me—a bear holding a whale?
Outside town is a lovely lake and park but we weren’t ready for lunch so we drove to the beach/boat launch—enjoyed the breeze and the sight and moved along south once more to Corning. This is the birthplace of Johnny Carson—born on my birthday in 1925. We would not have known this but for a couple of the songs I’d included on my compilation set. They are both by a couple of women who sing a song called I Woke in Iowa,which is rather disparaging about the cultural and urban lack in the State. After some criticism they decided to write the Iowa Apology Song, in which they laud those things about Iowa which are noteworthy. Not only do they mention Carson’s birthplace but also that he’d build the town a cinema—I took its picture. May I say, in contrast to Winterset which celebrates the birth of a man who left at 3, Corning says nothing about a man who lived there until he was 12. Actually he lived among three towns clustered together—Corning,Red Oak and Avoca, which has a beautiful welcome sign but absolutely no other evidence of its existence. 34 as it goes through Corning is called Johnny Carson Blvd—with subtitles, lol. Apparently, wherever it is, the home is being restored and will open as a museum on his birthday next Oct—but for now, where is it? No One is saying!
So we continued on our way to the Missouri and the old narrow bridge that crosses it on Rte 34. We and the train crossed side by side with paired bridges. Don’t think the train engineer stopped to pay the $1.25 toll, however. Does everyone think the only thing in New York is NYC? The old toll keeper said, aha, New York City. I said we grew up there but live in the dairy farm countryside that makes up most of the State and that I now am in Vermont—oh, well, I shouldn’t feel badly, I guess. Vermont is only pretty fall colors!
The first town we entered in Nebraska was Plattesmouth and the first sign was directions to the confluence of the Missouri and Platte rivers, a historical Lewis and Clark site. Oh, well, another detour. Soon, going down a gravel road running along the railroad track and getting more and more narrow, we began to wonder if we cared enough to continue. The pick-up truck we were following pulled up to the train locomotive so we pulled up to ask where this Lewis and Clark site was. The young engineer, with sparkling blue eyes and beautiful red hair said perfectly straight-faced, I haven’t seen those guys around for a long while—not missing a beat I said, nah, they passed right through and never returned and I was more interested in the confluence. We both laughed and I know we liked each other instantly. I wished I’d asked where he and his train were headed, just because. At any rate, he didn’t seem to know about the meeting place so we decided it wasn’t worth getting stuck out in the middle of no where so we turned about and scared a great blue heron off before returning to town.
About the only thing worth photographing in Union without being cruel was the banner claiming to be riding the rails of change. I hope so because there were about three broken down buildings at a railroad crossing. The rolling hills that had started in Iowa around Winterset, settled back into flatness once across the Missouri. We reunited with I 80 and passed through Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska with the statue of the Sower on the dome of the Capital building. Here is where Carson went to college joining the same fraternity to which Bill belongs. Carson used to give the frat sign on the Tonight Show and would wink and say for those who know. I never knew until I married Bill. It is interesting to note that while Carson’s major was radio broadcasting ect, his minor was physics—the guy was no schmuck.
Just around York we stopped and grabbed something to eat and drink. I tried to get a motel in Grand Island but every motel was filled. I began to get nervous—this is a big State and it was getting late. Apparently this week is CornHuskers’ Harvest Week!!! Wasn’t sure how far Kearney was but got a room there and found that it was only another 50 miles away. No senior discount since there is major event this week and furthermore this town’s motels are filled up, too.
Barb went down to the manager’s reception but I opted to stay in the room and relax a bit. She brought me a lovely glass of rose which I am now going to put up my feet and enjoy. Tomorrow we will go to the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument which spans I 80. I have been once when Mark and I returned from taking Betsy to college. Though we’ve stopped here again on various trips, it has not been open so Barb has not been able to enjoy it. Tomorrow is the day. and then we’ll continue westward toward North Platte and Scott’s Bluff. For now, it is wine and cheese time so good night to all. The Sophisticated Sisters Kathy and Barb