Sleep deprivation was pulling heavily on my eyelids. I managed a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and biscuits on our 24″ x 14″ tabletop gas grill. We packed our belongings in the car, swept out the cabin, and made one more inspection to ensure we hadn’t left anything behind. Upon returning to the car, CF noticed our 5-gallon water bottle had mysteriously jumped from the back of the SUV, down into the tall grasses beside the car. The back-end of the SUV wasn’t even sloping downward, so unless some random ghost was after our water, we can’t be for certain what happened; it’s a mystery.
Driving on to the north and then west, we traveled many scenic roads. We came across the little town of Monowi, NE, with just one resident; Elsie Eiler. She is the town’s mayor, tax collector, saloon keeper, and also the town librarian. Yes, this little town, or shall I say Elsie, manages to keep a small tavern AND a library going.
I came across an interesting blog on Monowi, and Elsie. It’s short, and quite interesting if you have a few minutes to wander away from here. But please come back… don’t forget about me! http://smalltownnewsinanutshell.blogspot.com/2011/05/friday-feature-monowi-nebraska.html
Traveling on, west to Valentine, NE, we picked up the radio station, KDAM, which managed to entertain us. They gave us our DAM weather report and our DAM morning news. It was just the pick-me-up I needed!
Once we reached Valentine, we took the first available room we came upon. Many places were already filled for the night, and others that still had openings were quite spendy. The Hotel Raine had a single, non-smoking room left, so we took it. When we asked for 2 cots or roll-away beds, the staff behind the desk snickered and said, “Oh you won’t be able to fit those in that room, there’s just not enough space. But we DO have a couple of Cabela’s rollout camping mattresses that you can use. They are pretty comfortable”. The room was clean, quite small, and apparently a bargain at $79. I’m pretty certain we didn’t get the room they had pictured on their sign out front, but we did at least have a roof over our heads… with air conditioning.
Heading out to the SUV once again, we decided to backtrack our drive just a bit to the Niobrara River, and headed straight for Smith Falls. The hike was a little farther than I had planned; I might have worn something other than flip-flops had I known. The gnats were terrible around the river, it was all we could do to swat at them, or run. When we did finally make it to Smith Falls, the temperature was considerably cooler, and the gnats were nonexistent. The spring water was icy cold, and made us squirm a little when stepping in. Eventually Em & Sid toughened up and began kicking and playing in the cold water.
Before long, big raindrops fell from the sky. I was carrying the camera, and trying to outrun the raindrops. Those darned gnats returned with full vengeance, and could apparently fly faster than I could run. When we made it back to the car, it too was covered with the little nuisances.
We decided to drive around to different areas to view the scenery, and eventually came across a big area of prairie dogs; but those darned gnats attacked us again. My clean, freshly Windexed car windows soon became nasty with smashed gnat bodies, everywhere. After feeling somewhat defeated by the weather & the pests, we headed back to the motel.
We did have TV and Wi-Fi, so we were able to watch some of the Olympics, and send pictures and emails home to family. The wind was blowing something awful outside, making it impossible to use our little grill for the evening meal. Luckily, I had cooked, frozen taco meat in the cooler that we could heat up in the microwave. We diced some fresh tomatoes from our garden at home, and added the rest of the ingredients for some tasty tacos.
After a long day, we all needed to hit the showers. I volunteered to go first. Refreshing? Yes… especially if you love to finish off with icy-cold water! I’m not certain I rinsed all the conditioner out of my hair, but I can tell you I was no longer complaining of the Nebraska heat. After a couple of hours waiting on the water heater, the rest of the family was able to take their showers, with warm water.
CF & Sid took the “roll-out” mattresses on the floor, while Em & I got the bed. Sleep came fairly easy for all of us that night, however mine ended abruptly at 3:00. Just my luck; a migraine headache. It was not the worst one I’ve ever had, but it was a migraine just the same. Not wanting to disturb anyone else, I managed to step over CF & Sid on the floor, in the dark. I found my headache medicine in my purse, located a bottle of water elsewhere in the room, and made it back to bed without waking anyone. Thirty minutes later with no relief, I finally woke CF. He jumped right up, as if he was being paged to duty (he’s a fireman), and went right to work massaging my neck & shoulders. He has rubbed out more headaches for me than I can begin to count. He helped me to find some relief, and I was able to get back to sleep. He’s the best!
Sid managed to wake us all with a shriek of fear about 5:00 a.m. The red-orange neon bar-lights hanging across the front of our hotel room (yes, a classy joint), must have appeared as the glow of a fire when he first opened his eyes, because he sat straight up in bed and called, “Mom! Mom, wake up! LOOK, Mom! MOM…LOOK!”
I half-expected some random biker from next door to be standing in the doorway, but instead it was a silly light peeking through a small opening of the curtains. Yes, thank goodness. It wasn’t 2 minutes later and Sid was back asleep; how fortunate for HIM! I think I might just take up drinking on this trip.
(Watch for Day #3, coming next)