Wide Open Spaces

US 183 in north central Nebraska

Kathy & I have been a little surprised by the questions and comments we’ve gotten from people since we returned from our western road trip.  Questions like, “did you have any trouble finding places to stay?”  “Where did you eat?”  “Are there a lot of people on the road?”  And comments that begin with phrases such as “One of these days…” and “When this is all over…” and “If it’s ever safe to travel again…”  Yeesh.  Of course we’ve gotten our share of “Good For You’s” and “That’s Great.” and we really appreciate that.

US 183 in north central Nebraska

When we tell people that we were in Oregon, we sometimes get a shocked look and some kind of question about “how bad was it?”  The News would have you conjure up images of us driving down some rural highway with flaming trees falling across the road as we passed.  Yes, there were fires nearby.  “Nearby” as in 40-50 miles and in another valley and over a ridge or two.  Yes, there was sometimes a lot of smoke and at times it got stinky.  The fires have been devastating for a lot of people, but for those of us just passing through it was just an inconvenience.  Mostly it was like driving in the fog.  Yes, in some towns the restaurants and wineries with outdoor seating had decided to close.  Who wants to eat or taste wine in the smoke?  But there was plenty to see and do and we just had to adjust a bit.  There is nothing like a road trip to teach you to be flexible!

US 183 in north central Nebraska

My message is that the world is still out there.  It’s a big country, and you don’t have to sit at home and watch The News telling you how bad things are.  Everything – or just about everything – is open.  We stayed away from the “famous” places like Yellowstone and Glacier, mostly because this trip was not about seeing those places.  This trip was specifically intended to take us off the beaten path.  We’ll get to those famous places at another time.

Passing Zone

Restaurants on the road are operating just like they are at home.  We carried a cooler with breakfast and lunch, to give us the flexibility to not have to go in search of food in the middle of nowhere.  Hotels have scaled back their services a bit but they welcomed us everywhere.  Gas is readily available everywhere and we had very little trouble finding a restroom when we needed one.

US 183 in north central Nebraska

Not everybody has the travel bug but we do.  And if you do, this is really not a bad time to travel by car.  Trains, buses, planes and cruise ships?  Not yet.  But car?  No big deal.  It’s fall color time – get out there!  Figure out how you can travel in a way that makes you comfortable and go.  Try an overnight, a weekend or a week.  But go!   Someday is today, and times a-wastin’!

US 183 in north central Nebraska

4 thoughts on “Wide Open Spaces”

  1. I am just wondering, were those comments related to the fires, the pandemic, something else or all things in general? Whatever the reason, I am not entirely surprised. I suppose that generally, people have always had something to worry about, but worry does seem overwhelmingly the mode of operation for many people I talk to these days. I couldn’t say whether the concern is justified as I don’t follow media of any sort but I do feel sorry for anyone who feel the kind of stress I am sensing from them.
    Anyway, I am glad you and Kathy got to do your trip. Quite a tour it was and thanks for sharing it here. Nebraska looks amazing. Never got to that state on our travels but the openness looks inviting for sure. I suspect Monte would enjoy such vistas 🙂

    1. That’s a great question and thank you for asking it. As you may be aware, we have become a very media-centric society, and way too much of our (collective) experience comes from our electronic boxes rather than through our eyes and our direct observation. That provides for a very narrow view of reality and what is actually happening in the world. Also, we live in a neighborhood of older folks (it’s a 55+ community but many of my neighbors are in their 70s and 80s).

      We actually had a friend text us while we were in Oregon encouraging us to “get out of there.” We assured her that we were perfectly safe, but the images in the media would suggest otherwise.

      As Monte has posted about the situation in Colorado, the adverse conditions come and go with changes in weather patterns. It’s the same in Oregon, California, Wyoming and anywhere else that is experiencing adverse conditions.

      We were really taken with the scenery in northern Nebraska and may decide to spend more time there. It’s our kind of place! Every state has its own beauty, and it is not always something that would make the cover of the Rand McNally Road Atlas. My previous post about the barn in Kansas is an example, as would be these scenes from Nebraska. The Palouse in Washington is “low hanging fruit” but you might have to look a little harder in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri or other states.

  2. Yes, I would and do enjoy the wide open vistas of tall grass and short grass prairies. Something inside of me wishes I could have seen them in the early 1800s before the Homestead Act transformed it.

    All your images speak of the open road. Scenes like this are not as prevalent east of the Mississippi River. I am a car traveler anymore. I’m more about the what I see along the way rather than closing my eyes and waking up in another place. I don’t want to miss anything.

    1. Given how relatively close to you Nebraska is, I might suggest it as a “trial run” for a short outing. Northern Nebraska especially had some very nice scenery.

      You are exactly right about the difference between east and west of the Mississippi. We had our pick of good routes until we got to Joplin, MO and Nashville. And after that it was either I-40 or two days of back roads to get home. The population density and the mountains make for much fewer good choices the farther east one goes.

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