Carhenge, Kingsley Dam, & Elk Penis: Vacationing in Nebraska, Day 4

Pop pop… pop pop… pop pop…  Oh, how delightful!  The recurring nightmare wakeup call from our friendly Sturgis group.  What would we ever do without them giving us a loud and startling wakeup call each morning?  They sure are proud of those bikes!

While packing suitcases, I noticed that neither of the kids hung their swimsuits or towels up to dry for the night.  If it isn’t bad enough to carry dirty laundry in a garbage bag for the remainder of the trip, now we’re adding wet clothing to the mix.  I can almost smell the emerging stench in the back of my car, ugh!

We packed up our belongings in the car, and headed downstairs for the free hotel breakfast.  It was a decent spread, for being free, but I really did miss the homemade breakfast we’ve been accustomed to eating the past few days.  We fueled up the car, added some ice to the coolers, and headed south towards Carhenge and Chimney Rock.

Carhenge was interesting in its own quirky way.  My best find though was this cool wind spinner made out of rims and miscellaneous car parts.  I think this could be my craft-talented mother’s next project!

The Carhenge wind spinner

Before we left, I had to walk through the souvenir shop and see if there was anything that we couldn’t live without.  A couple of postcards and a bottle of “Un-Henged” seasoning was all I came away with, although the t-shirt that said, “I got stoned at the Henge” was awfully tempting.

Our next stop along the way was Chimney Rock; the landmark most frequently mentioned in journals by travelers of the Oregon Trail.  Early fur traders claim that the Native Americans named the rock “Elk Penis”.  The more delicate name, “chimney”, was overwhelmingly favored by the Anglo-Americans, and is the only name you’ll see on the historical landmark site today (I wonder why Elk Penis never caught on?).

Chimney Rock (formerly known as “Elk Penis”)

Back on the road again, we were hearing complaints from the back seat; apparently a couple of kids were starving back there.  So, after a wild goose chase for an elusive historical marker (that we never found), we finally came across a nice city park in Bridgeport, NE.  We fired up the little grill,  making mini meatloaves, instant potatoes, and garlic bread.  The park was pretty and green, and the picnic tables were in a nicely shaded area.

By the stares we received from the people passing by, we obviously were doing something “strange” when we grilled out in the park.  Maybe we shouldn’t have finished drying our swimsuits & towels on the picnic tables?!?

When we finished our lunch, we promptly packed up and headed out of town.  Suddenly, I gasped as I looked  in my side-view mirror, exclaiming, “Stop, the trunk is open!”  With all the belongings we stuffed back there, it’s no wonder it didn’t shut when we pushed the button (automatic doors are nice, when they work).  We made it 2 blocks before I noticed; I think I’m starting to sense why people look at us oddly.

Moving onward, we headed a couple of hours south and then southeast, down the road to Ogallala, NE to find a room for the night.  The best deal we found was $79 at Days Inn.  I had an uneasy feeling about the person behind the desk, so we paid for this room in cash, just in case.  We didn’t bother unloading the car, instead we headed straight for Lake McConaughy.

I had no idea just how sandy the beach would be there, and I must say it was quite a workout walking through it all just to get to the water.  The kids didn’t seem to have any trouble, so I guess maybe I’m just out of shape.  I joined them for a little while in the water, but it was surprisingly cold.   I’m beginning to think I’m more of a wimp the older I get.

I was surprised to find that the sand was more of an attraction to the kids than the water.  They spent a couple of hours just sculpting in the sand.  Em worked on her own version of Stonehenge, and Sid made… a motocross track, of course.  I forgot to grab my camera from the car when I walked to the beach, so I don’t have photos to share of their masterpieces.  I must admit, however, I think it’s time to put a new sandbox in our backyard.  It was really nice to see the kids doing something constructive with their hands and their imaginations.

As the sun was going down, we headed over to one more spot we really wanted to view; the Kingsley Dam & Hydroplant at Lake McConaughy.  The smell was a bit undesirable, but the magnificent water spray made up for it.

Kingsley Hydroplant

By the time we headed back to our hotel room, it was too late to start supper on the grill.  We headed over to Arby’s instead, for some take-home supper.  The kids have apparently been spending too much time together, because all we heard once we entered our hotel room was the argument over who called which side of the bed first.  The two of them fought over one particular side of the bed for 20 minutes.  Sid sat in the spot he wanted, and purposely spilled food crumbs on that side so Em wouldn’t want it.  Em took a drink from his Mountain Dew, and then Sid wouldn’t drink from it.  The two continued the drama, until Mom put the guilt trip on them about being ungrateful and fighting over such menial things.

Em won the battle in the end, or at least she was the one who got the “preferred” side of the bed.  We all managed to get warm showers, and everyone was tucked in bed by 11:00 p.m.  I think we can safely say we are out of the path of those traveling to Sturgis, so we may get to sleep in tomorrow.  Maybe.

(Watch for the conclusion of “Vacationing in Nebraska”, Day 5, coming next)


12 thoughts on “Carhenge, Kingsley Dam, & Elk Penis: Vacationing in Nebraska, Day 4

  1. Being the less conservative of the two of us (I know, conservative would NEVER describe me!) I would have gotten the t-shirt from Carhenge! I really enjoyed this particular post in the vacation series, mostly because it isnt today’s typical family running off each doing their own thing. You represent a close-knit family spending time together. It reminds me of the Beaver Cleaver days when times were more simple and families did important things together. I love that you mentioned missing your homemade breakfasts on the tabletop grill the morning you had a motel breakfast, and I loved Em and Sid creating “art” in the sand. I loved your photographs… very nice composition.

    Gee, I thought you might replace that old t-shirt I bought you when I stopped at Lake McConaughy 30-some years ago, “Get Sand in your Crack at Big Mac”!


    • It’s funny you mentioned that shirt from “Big Mac”, because we did actually stop in at a store there & I looked for that very shirt, but to my disappointment they did not have any. Do you remember my moment of embarrassment when Grandma K. read that across my shirt? I was nearly mortified; I thought she’d think it was very inappropriate, but she surprised me when she smiled and laughed a little instead.

      And thank you so much for your comment about spending time together as a family; that is what I wanted most out of this trip; everything else was just a bonus 😉


  2. You are having a great trip. Your words in this post, giving a feeling as if we all are part of trip. I have never ever seen something like The Carhenge wind spinner. Such a wonderful creativity. Enjoy your trip to fullest. 🙂 Looking forward to the conclusion.


    • This trip has been fun, and memorable, in so many ways. I love your comment about feeling like the reader is part of the trip, thank you so much :-). The wind spinner was made with such heavy parts, it would likely take a strong Nebraska wind to work, but it was cool, just the same. Thanks so much for following us through our journey, it’s fun to share our experiences with you!!


  3. Hi there! I’m from Nebraska, and in my search for other writers and writng about the area, I found your blog. I’m so glad you shared some of Nebraska’s fun things from your travels. Just wanted to let you know that Carhenge is currently for sale if you are looking to make a career change.


    • Hello to you too! So glad you stopped by for a visit, it always puts a smile on my face when I know a fellow Nebraskan has read and commented on my blog; thank you! As awesome as it would sound, telling people, “Ya, I own Carhenge”, I just don’t think I could live like that; you know, as a celebrity, LOL ;-). I LOVE your Gravatar photo (and description), and I am now following your blog. Enjoy your day!


      • Awwww, Thanks! I saw that! I appreciate it very much. That search for writers from Nebraska I told you about led me to some blogs that weren’t very friendly about us and our hayseed ways–you were not among them-thank you! I am writing right now about what a great place Nebraska is and its contributions to our nation–including Carhenge. 🙂


    • Thank YOU so much, Rick! It brings a smile to my face every time I see you’ve stopped by and read more of my ramblings. Nebraska does have some great places to visit, and even though I’ve lived there all my life, I have yet to visit them all.

      I admire your photography and writings so much, and I’m quite thankful for the helpful hints you put in there for capturing great photos. I especially enjoyed looking through the photos you took while passing through Nebraska; they look like home to me. Thanks for stopping by, and for the lovely comment!


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