Saturday, May 7, 2022

We Have Enough Time, But Not Enough Weather

 May 1-7, 2022
Kearney - Bellevue, Nebraska

I'm still a little bummed about missing Fort Robinson in northeast Nebraska this route. I removed it to reduce our fuel usage, but it's a place I've wanted to visit (there and the nearby grasslands) for years. Still, we're seeing Nebraska - state number 45 for us!

Sunday's travels are mostly wind-free, but the truck ruts on the 220 miles of two-lane road make for tiring driving. Happy to arrive in Kearney, Nebraska, about 2 pm, and surprised to see the park is on the water (it's a large pond, but still pretty)! It's also next to I-80, but the road noise isn't bad. 

Kearney RV Park is less than 40 sites, all pull-through 50 amp FHU, with level concrete pads and tall trees that don't block satellite. The utilities are spread out strangely, but Bill doesn't have to add extra hose or cord. Some sites have grass, not ours. Poor Tessa.

What a nice surprise!

I remember a million years ago I was in Nebraska with my kids for one night and had the best steak. Since we almost never have steak anymore I figured this was a good place to give it a try. Whiskey Creek Woodfire Grill serves a tasty rib eye!! Nice to be back in a good size town with a broad selection of eateries and services.

As expected, rain starts overnight and by mid-morning we are surrounded by standing water. It's also cold! And windy! The park starts filling up before noon. So, so glad we opted to travel a day early.

50 degrees is the forecast high, but we never see 40. Our free-standing electric heater continues to be one of the smartest thing we added. It's a great supplement to the gas furnace we have to use when it's colder than 40 outside. 

On-the-water becomes in-the-water. We really appreciate being up on the concrete pad.

At first I think it's fog then realize it's snow!! It continues off and on for a few  hours, but never builds up.

The only thing on my "list" for this stop is Fort Kearney. It's a week before the park's official opening, and it's 43 degrees, so we check out the small site from the warmth of the Jeep. 

The fort is about a mile from the Platte River and part of the Oregon Trail story in the mid-to-late 1800's. All buildings were destroyed when the fort was dismantled in the 1920's and in 1959 was purchased as a state park by the state. 

Archaeological excavation identified most of the buildings, and a few were recreated. Others were marked with stakes and plaques now describe what stood there, and their function.

Reconstructed blacksmith shop.

Sites of barracks and other buildings.

This stunner greets you at the entrance.

Not much other Spring color yet.

The nearby recreation area has a dozen fishing ponds. All camping sites have electric but we didn't see any water spigots. There is at least one shower house so they must have them!

The cold and damp means we don't get out much, but do enjoy a couple great meals. Alley Rose and Cunninghams are both excellent.

Snuggled up with her duck, Tessa has the right idea for a chilly afternoon.

One advantage to traveling this time of year is the opportunity to make changes in our travel schedule. Although I made advance reservations everywhere, we've been able to change them without issue. Including in Nebraska. Another storm is moving in so we leave a day early and move east.

Although we've made adjustments for the weather, we really haven't had it that bad. Not like we're camping in a tent!

For the first time since arriving in Colorado we're back on a divided highway. I-80 has little variety in road or scenery, but the 190 miles pass quickly. Turning south in Omaha we set up at Winsor Cove in the smaller town of Bellevue. At first it's a newer bedroom community with box stores and chain eateries, but the campground is in an older area along the Missouri River, with small businesses and old growth trees. The place is huge and ALL grass. Tessa is in heaven. 

The $50/night rate is steep for electric and water only, no office/store, cracked concrete pads, and not a destination spot. Alas, everything works well and we're safe and dry. And the hosts are delightful.

About a third of the campground. All sites have power and water. Five have 50 amp.

We appreciate that our gardener is making our backyard nice. It's very cold.

Six years ago we were in Socorro, New Mexico, on Cinco de Mayo. It was a last minute reroute for family issues, and we figured we'd really lucked out being there for the holiday. We still laugh that we couldn't find a Mexican food place with margaritas! Had to opt for a hotel lounge :-))  This year we're in Nebraska, and yep! Numerous options for Mexican food and margaritas. One should never assume.

Blood Orange margarita sooooo good!

La Mesa Mexican restaurant gave us these pretty glasses for the holiday. Deep fried ice cream was the perfect ending to a great meal.

It even felt like a holiday - good job Nebraska :-)

The expected rain doesn't show this time, but it never warms up all day. Looking ahead it will be in the 90's here by mid-week! 

Daughter-in-law Shalise (AKA Ezra and Elliott's mom) celebrated her 40th with an under-the-sea party at their home in the mountains. She's so creative!!

Brian, Shalise, Elliott and Ezra

Friday is our last day in Nebraska, and we see the sun at last! Time to do some exploring.

Iowa is just over the river from our park and we're back and forth between the two states all day.

Council Bluffs is the site of the first meeting between the Lewis and Clark expedition and a native tribe in August 1804. Faded and hidden signage leads to a surprising monument with lovely views of the city of Omaha and the Missouri River. 

The blue skies and sunshine are invigorating!

We always enjoy our National Wildlife Refuges so we check out one about 35 miles north. Unlike some, the drive isn't a loop and we don't get back to the visitor center after exploring. Red-wind blackbirds, Canada geese and adorable turtles make up our wildlife sightings. Frogs are singing but we don't see any.

Desoto National Wildlife Refuge

Coming back for the slow-pokes.

Unfortunately Tessa does find other wildlife and we pull over two dozen ticks off her :-( So gross. But her white coat makes it a lot easier than when I had black poodles as a kid! We check, and none made their way to us.  

On our way back I want to check out downtown Omaha. It's a lovely city from the highway, but major construction makes it impossible to get there without a lot of jockeying. Instead we find our way back to Hwy 25 and return home.

Historic neighborhoods have several vintage beauties.

Barns always grab my eye. The big doors must be on the other side!
Like Kansas, what we see of Nebraska is peaceful and very clean. Lots of wide open spaces with hills and forests. Very nice people. 

The little toll bridge near our park is $1 both directions with the most friendly, dog-treat-sharing ladies. On our way back we learn our toll has been paid! Apparently a motorcycle owner just sold his saddle bags, and he donated the full $100 to pay tolls for the day. What?! Just fills that ol' heart right up :-)

Cold and wet kept us home for most of our time in Nebraska which doesn't dampen our happiness at being back on the road. It was fun to see a bit of this new state, and Saturday we're into Iowa - number 46!



  1. Laurel ( 7, 2022 at 8:25 AM

    Wow! State 45 and on to 46! We haven't been to Nebraska, so I'm glad to get a bit of a preview. I so agree with what you said about not making assumptions. That's one of the great life lessons of our travels, isn't it? Your blood orange margarita looks so refreshing! It's crazy to think that you're having snow, but I have to remember that it's still only early May. Meanwhile, we're barreling toward summer here in Florida (and leaving before it descends in full force!). Tessa's commentary on her ever-changing backyard is so cute.

    1. Oh yes, I'm afraid I've been guilty of assumptions for several states - and been pleasantly proved wrong! Hope the brutal heat holds off until you move north. We're looking at warmer temps too, just wish the winds would go away :-(

  2. We entered Nebraska in the northwest corner at North Platte and the nations largest railroad yard. It was interesting following the Platte River and the history of the area. Our neighbor's son will be going to Creighton in the fall. Thanks for the ideas to visit in Omaha wehn we stop to visit him this fall.
    Under the Sea birthday party lot of fun I'm sure.

    1. I really want to get to that northwest corner and see the history. You'll like the monument overlooking Omaha - hope some of that construction is done by then!

  3. It’s Gay…the red barn is stunning! We both share a love and an eye for barns, Tessa looks quite comfy and cozy all snuggled up with duckie and blanket. We can learn lots of life lessons from the fur babies! We enjoy the wildlife refugees too. The golden grass, trees and water make for lots of photo opportunities…so peaceful too!

    1. This is definitely a good part of the country for old barns!! For every one I capture, there are dozens more to enjoy. No matter where they are, we always appreciate the refuges and the layers of habitat.

  4. That pink tree is stunning whatever it is! Ticks--UGH!!! Like you said, it's a good thing Tessa is white!

    1. I'm worse at trees than I am at birds :-)) Nothing in bloom here yet except for the trees so we're loving their color. I should have known that area was ripe for ticks - won't make that mistake again!!

  5. Do catch Fort Robinson next time. We really enjoyed it.
    220 miles of two lane road with truck ruts sounds like my worst nightmare.
    Snow in May in Nebraska I would never have imagined but this has been the unending winter, even here. Really glad to hear you have been able to make reservation changes. I can barely remember how easy that used to be. LOL at the “gardener”. Your blood orange margarita looks fantastic as does the fried ice cream. You guys know how to eat. My cholesterol level would be sky high if I did that. But I’d sure like to. Can’t believe you are going to go from snow to 90’s in a week. That also sounds like here only we just did upper 30’s to upper 80’s in 5 days. I have such mixed feelings about the Lewis and Clark expedition. It seemed to be the death knell for the Natives. Love National Wildlife Refuges any time, any place. $100 in $1 tolls will go a long way.

    1. I was very glad those ruts didn't continue to the Interstate! The weather continues to be a big part of our story this spring, but fortunately just inconvenient and not damaging. We so rarely have dessert and no sweets in the house that the ice cream was a huge treat - really huge :-)))) Sadly if it hadn't been L and C it would have been someone else smothering the natives in disease and destruction. Seeing how they organized the trek, and their interpretations of what they saw always fascinates me.

  6. Having grown up in the Midwest, Iowa and Nebraska were states to "get through" in a hurry westward. Be different now I am sure. So hate ticks. Nice guy to make that donation.

    1. I admit I saw them as "get through" states when I routed, but as always happens we're finding interesting explorations along the way.

  7. I sure hope you find a place where the sun shines (without the wind) for your entire stay. You are doing such a wonderful job finding the silver lining in each stop with all your rain. Life is too short to focus on the negatives. Poor Tessa and her many wildlife "friends." Yuck! Ticks are the worst. Glad she is white. Love that spectacular pink tree.

  8. I have to look way back in our route to see a sunny day without wind, and now the humidity has joined the pack. Ah well, it's the real experience, what residents live every year, so we're just adding it to our story!