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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Over The Hump

Day two of the Great American Road Trip started pretty well, FedEx had my wallet in hand before 10:00 so Leslie and I hit the road south of Salt Lake City and started moving up the Wasatch Mountains. For those who have never been to Salt Lake City, the city is in a valley that is fairly flat for being in the mountains, just east of the city the mountains spring seemingly straight up. We headed into the mountains and began climbing, about twenty miles later we were driving along a high valley where Park City is located.

Turn after turn we were given beautiful vistas, and changing topography and flora. From pine forests to dessert landscape, we wound up and down, north and south as we headed east towards Wyoming on I-80.

The I-80 crosses Wyoming along the southern border, and it is an amazing drive. Huge vistas that looked like the plains states, but at high elevation, we were definitely in cowboy country. It was easy to look at the rolling fields with grazing cattle and horses, the mountain peaks hundreds of miles to the north and the south, and imagine what it was like one hundred fifty years ago with men on horseback working their herds.

A highlight of the day was our lunch stop, not just for the great barbecue pork and brisket sandwiches we found at a local spot we decided on instead of a Subway turkey sandwich, but the actual location. We pulled off the road in Rock Springs. Which happens to be the birthplace of my daughters' grandmother, Leslie's mother. Like many of the towns that were spread out along the I-80, Rock Springs is a tidy town spread out along a river valley and has a main drag with a 35 mile per hour speed limit. If you ever are in Rock Springs go to Dickey's Barbecue Pit, they have a small sandwich for $3, a medium for $5 or a large for $7 which has two kinds of meat and cheese. I got a small pork and a small brisket and Leslie went for the medium pulled pork. Delicious, Leslie also recommends the fried okra.

Throughout the day we saw major storm clouds to the south. As the day wore on and the Honda Odyssey forged ever Eastward, dark clouds--beautiful, full storm clouds--collected ahead of us. As we closed in on Laramie the sky became very dark. Then from Laramie to Cheyenne we were alternately dumped on with so much rain that it was almost a white out, then it would immediately back off to scattered showers, then again with the torrential downpour. It made for interesting driving and nice scenery with the clouds and storms across the horizons.

Dropping out of Cheyenne the weather cleared almost on top of the Nebraska border about forty miles east of Cheyenne. As we approached the border we saw a huge, perhaps thirty feet tall, white stone Jesus facing Wyoming on the north side of the highway. Jesus welcomed us to Nebraska, I told Leslie if you are leaving Nebraska, Jesus turns his back on you.

We have made it over the hump of the mountains that separate the West from the Midwest and officially entered the Great Plains.

The drive across Nebraska, or about two hundred or so miles of it, were just as pretty as the drive through the mountains in a different way. Rolling green hills, copses of trees along river banks, farms and silos. I told Leslie that Nebraska's horizons are dotted with silos the way Utah's is with steeples.

As we passed North Platte and headed to our evening's destination we saw herds of deer coming out of the woods and eating in alfalfa fields or walking through streams.

Oh, and yes there are plenty of corn fields.

I was tempted to pull over in Sidney and go to the headquarters and major store for Cabella's, perhaps the number one purveyor of outdoor wear and gear for hunters, fisherman and campers. Had I gone in I might have cost us several hours and money we cannot afford to spend on jackets and boots I may never wear but look and fit great.

We are spending the night at the Super 8 (I'll call it the Okay-8) in wonderful Gothenberg, Nebraska. We pulled in about 9:00 local time and went to hunt for dinner. Someone rolled up the town about dinner time evidently but we lucked out on a local diner still open and willing to make some ham and eggs and a club sandwich.

We drove through the town looking for a place so we could avoid McDonald's and I can tell you that Gothenberg is not a one-light town. It does not have one light. Not one. Lots of stop signs however.

Not sure if we can make Camp Birchwood tomorrow since we missed our goal of Omaha by about 240 miles due to the late start waiting for my wallet. We covered 700 miles each of the first two days, we'll see what tomorrow brings as we continue our trip across this incredibly beautiful country of ours.

Here is the mobile phone shot from out the window in the middle of Nebraska:

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