It’s Friday, August 27th. The Lindfors need to be back in NY by Monday night so Eric can “get oriented” at his new middle school on Tuesday morning, August 31. They’re heading home, but the wind isn’t out of our voyageurs sails yet.
The actual pedal to the metal didn’t actually start until after the Lindfors’ first planned stop, just 40 miles southeast of Moran, Wyoming. Their number one goal today is to see the a Jackalope. Since Steve was a kid he’d heard about the Jackalope, and thought it was a mythical creature. But it’s not. They heard there was a Jackalope specimen in Dubois, Wyoming and they were determined to find it. Another first! In fact, to show you how high this event registered on Steve’s “Thrill-O-Meter,” he even bought a Jackalope t-shirt to commemorate the event. And of course they have pictures to prove that they saw the beast and Jackelopes, indeed, exist.
The drive from Dubois into Nebraska, 500 miles through central Wyoming vastness via Cheyenne, Wyoming and south to Interstate 80, was actually wonderful, according to Steve. We’ve had several long conversations about the wonder of driving vacations and how it allows the magic of being able to see horizons in all four directions, especially in the West. As opposed to air travel, the journey keeps you connected to the earth and to the people that live in the country. Small towns, back roads, diners–a veritable gold mine of experiences waiting to be had.
By Friday night the Lindfors call it quits in Sidney, Nebraska. At this point they are due south of Rapid City, South Dakota, closing the elliptical circle that will take them back to New York. Plus, bonus! There’s a treat to be had at the end of the day in Sidney. And, for our foursome, that treat is spelled S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G!
Can you say Cabela’s? The Cabela’s that claims to be “the World’s Foremost Outfitter of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear” was founded in 1961 as a mail order business and, by 1969, was operating out of a 50,000 square-foot vacant John Deere building in downtown Sidney, Nebraska. The Lindfors love Cabela’s stores! If you can’t be outdoors then enjoy the outdoors indoors. “What a treat to have visited the mother ship,” says Steve. Sidney, Nebraska’s world-headquarters Cabela’s store has grown to an amazing flagship size of 250,000 sq. ft.—offering everything and anything outdoors-men and women could possibly want. The Lindfors had a ball cruising the store and checking out all the outdoor gear on display. I’m told Janet did some serious shopping before they tucked in for the night. “Janet loves to shop there and so do I,” says Steve, obviously happy about the day and its fortuitous ending.
Saturday, August 28, 2010. Up and At ‘Em Early. Today entailed more eastward bound driving but it was not without stops along the way, of course. After all, this IS the Lindfors. Steve reports that the family, throughout their drive across the Nebraska, see a lot of long, long trains traversing the state. Some passenger, some freight and cargo.
Like millions of pioneers crossing the United States along the California, Mormon and Oregon Trails, the Lindfors couldn’t wait to see and encounter the prominent historic landmark called Chimney Rock. Designated as an Historic Marker in August, 1956 its unique spire rises 470 ft. above the North Platte River and was a signal to pioneers that they were officially leaving the plains area of the United States, facing mountainous and treacherous terrain ahead. “It was also a pony express stop too,” chimed in Steve as he’s describing how cool it was to see the rock and the nearby Visitor Center.
They could hardly wait to reach their next stop and continue the “love story” information search about Buffalo Bill Cody, the incredible legend, rancher, scout, showman and buffalo hunter they “discovered” in Cody, Wyoming. Back in the day, Buffalo Bill Cody owned a 4000+ acre ranch in Lincoln, NB that was called Scout’s Rest Ranch. William Cody built his grand Victorian-style home in 1886, along with a very large barn—that now serves as a museum, housing his Wild West Show memorabilia. This world-famous all-out “Western” production afforded Buffalo Bill the money to build such a lavish residence and acquire so much land. “He was obviously very wealthy,” said Steve. The Lindfors were amazed by the size of the stables and poked around the museum, searching to find out more particulars of the Wild West Show. “He took the show to Europe, all over Europe,” said Steve obviously drawn by the grandness of Cody’s efforts, especially for those times. “The show toured England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Russia and France. There was a drum that listed all the places they performed; it was really impressive. He even incorporated Sitting Bull into his show. You can watch film clips of the show taken on the tour around the United States! It was only the movies that brought his style of showmanship and entertainment to a halt. I find this guy so interesting, I want to read up more about him once I get back to New York. What a fascinating life he lived!”
Steven was also stoked to visit one of his famous football team’s “headquarters.” “I have always loved the Nebraska Cornhuskers so it was great to be near the stadium and have my picture taken.” Janet also got to visit another visitor center and has determined that perusing these places is an essential element to doing car travel right. “You find out what a state has to offer in one easy stop. The historic stuff, the cultural stuff, the good restaurants and out of the way attractions. Plus, meeting all the different people is fun,” adds Janet, “Marilyn was particularly nice.”
Steven begins to muse about going back home. “We’re all getting sad at this point,” Steven points out. This has just been the best trip. The weather’s been beautiful, we haven’t been cut off in traffic for days, haven’t experienced any road rage and we’ve met the friendliest people. The waitresses! The waitresses are so nice!” We can’t believe it.
Sunday, August 29, 2010. If it’s Sunday it’s must be Iowa and Indiana. Our vacationers press on, still stopping here and there for food and fun but mostly just heading East, and a little bit south so they can swing through Bloomington, Illinois to see relatives while on their way back home. “Iowa was a lot like Nebraska, said Steve.
“Very pleasant, interesting countryside. We were amazed at how many wind farms were out there—and there’s more going up. The trucks carrying the wind blades were on the highway and it was a sight to see them up close. Just one blade is gigantic!” exclaims Steve. “We also stopped at Freedom Rock and had our picture taken. I guess the artist repaints the rock every year to commemorate and memorialize certain soldiers, groups or battles. It was pretty cool actually. We stopped for a spell at John Wayne’s birthplace, too. It was hard for us to cross the Mississippi again, that’s for sure. Officially, we were no longer ‘out West’ and it was sad.”
I can’t wind down the trip without reporting one last “first” for Steven Lindfors. At the regionally-famous Machine Shed restaurant in Davenport, Iowa (a place originally dedicated to farmers) Steve ate his very first EVER country fried steak—with white gravy! Doesn’t seem possible or plausible, does it? He was initially leery of the “pasty concoction” called gravy but said it was actually delicious. The family loved this place! “The food was unbelievable. They sold root beer called “Dang” and chocolate flavored bacon! Eric loved that one. Plus, they even had bacon flavored toothpicks. It cracked us up.”