With the Sturgis “travelers” occupying the majority of our motel, it should have been no surprise that we would get our “wakeup call” by 6:00 a.m. to the sound of Harley Davidson bikes cranking up. The pop pop… pop pop… pop pop… of the bikes was so loud, you might just fear they were coming right through the door. And apparently, it must be important to idle them, for say, a good 10 minutes in order to make certain there is not a sleeping soul left within a 2 block radius.
Ah, forgive me, remember I AM sleep deprived.
I took the morning off from cooking breakfast on the camp grill, and we made our way over to McDonald’s instead. CF stopped at a delightful little coffee & gift shop in Valentine, hoping to perk me up a bit. It worked. It’s amazing what a good cup of joe can do to lift the spirits of the weary traveler.
We hadn’t quite made it out of town, when Emily spotted a helicopter flying low, heading straight for the airport. My daughter is a helicopter nut. She has managed more helicopter rides in one year, than most of us experience in a lifetime. She has big plans to pilot them herself one day, and I believe she will do it!
It was imperative that we HAD to drive to the airport, or we’d never hear the end of it. So CF and Emily walked over to speak with the pilot. The man & his wife let Emily look inside, and asked where we were from. When CF told them where we lived, the guy said, “Oh, then I suppose you would know…(so & so)”, and we did! He proceeded to tell CF & Emily that he and his wife used to own all the Gas ‘N Shops in Nebraska, until they sold out their business about 10 years back. CF was a Gas ‘N Shop regular when we still had one back home; he claimed they had a better Mountain Dew fountain drink than anywhere else.
They were heading to a family reunion in Nebraska. How sweet to have a helicopter to get you there!
After the helicopter excitement, we traveled at least a couple of hours, reaching Chadron, NE around noon. The first thing we did was secure a room for the night. We weren’t so fortunate to get a cheaper room this time. In fact, we took one of the last two rooms still available at the Best Western for $139. Sid was super excited because there was an indoor pool.
Our next destination was Chadron State Park. We rented a pedal boat for the kids, and we sat on the bank and watched. There was some serious arguing about how to steer the thing, but eventually they got it.
When their legs grew tired, CF and I gave it a try. Again, some arguing was exchanged on how to drive it (it’s not as easy as it might look).
Captain, we’re taking on water! There must be a weight limit; not only was the boat listing to the right pretty hard, but CF’s feet were sloshing through the water as he pedaled. The drain holes were actually filling the boat with water, and I think Mr. Landlover was getting a little worried.
With all that extra water, it was getting tougher for both of us to pedal, so we headed back to the dock. But when Sid wanted to head back out, and Emily didn’t, CF hopped right back in. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but as the photo clearly shows, it wasn’t getting any better with a lighter person next to him.
Once everyone made it back to the dock safely, we took a scenic drive in the park, and found a park shelter we could have all to ourselves. We took out our little grill, and I started some lunch. While CF and Sid did some hiking nearby, Em and I grilled some cheeseburgers, warmed some baked beans, and set out some potato chips.
Next, we headed to Fort Robinson, Nebraska’s largest and most historic state park. There is a lot of history on those grounds, and so much to learn about. This is the site of the 1879 Cheyenne Outbreak, as well as the death of Sioux Chief Crazy Horse. It is really amazing to see that so many of the original buildings are still standing today, and many are still utilized. If one plans ahead, a stay in one of the original cabins on the place can be arranged; there are several . If pedaling around the area appeals, mountain bikes and double bicycles can also be rented. I think this would be particularly fun if you were staying for a weekend!
In one of the buildings, a letter was posted from the year 1894; I found it to be quite fascinating!
I laughed so hard when I read what a quarrelsome and vindictive woman Private Jackson’s wife seemed to be, and that she was far from being a desirable woman about the post. And evidently, Private Wheat’s wife was not a desirable woman either. How funny!
If you care to learn more about Fort Robinson State Park, you can click on this link: http://www.stateparks.com/fort_robinson.html
For the evening, we had planned on having “The World’s Best Nachos” at Common Cents in Chadron. Although we had been told they were really good nachos, I guess we were expecting something “special” about them (after all, they were boasted the world’s best, right?). Your choices of toppings were: nacho cheese, olives, onion, jalapeno peppers, and sour cream; no meat or beans. Maybe it’s a midwestern thing, but nachos that lack meat on them are merely chips and cheese. We changed our minds, and went to a burger joint instead.
After enjoying some much anticipated fun at the hotel pool, we all rested our weary, chlorine soaked bodies on the mattresses of two very comfortable, queen-sized beds. I’m trying to ready myself for the traditional “Harley wake-up call” in the morning; the evidence has already revealed to us…. they’re EVERYWHERE!
(Watch for Day 4, coming next)