Nebraska along I-80, part two.

For the second day of our journey, and the final edge of Nebraska, I took all the girls in my car…my two plus my sister’s two…and mom took the 3 boys.

Hey, girls! Smile for the camera!

Nice to know S., the youngest elf in my sister’s brood, was listening. But seriously, girls! Is it too much to ask for one quick pic where everyone looks at the camera?

Apparently, it is. Whatever..they’re still cute.

We came across The Great Platte River Road Archway in Ft. Kearny and even though we had just barely started out on our drive, we stopped to see it. I’d driven by it (or, rather, under it) while on a Serendipity Bath trip to Chicago with my fellow soaper, Ashley. It’s an amazing sight to see a huge archway in Nebraska, built over I-80…but we didn’t have the luxury of stopping then. So, on this trip with so many enthusiastic kids packed in the car, we got out to explore.

We quickly learned why this huge expansive archway was built in the middle of Nebraska. To understand, you’ll have to think back to 6th grade US History, when they talked about all the trails that crisscrossed America in the early pioneer days. Some people were going to California, some to Oregon, some to Santa Fe, and still others to Utah. The significance of Ft. Kearny is that all these trails converged at this point, and then branched off in their different directions.

There were different markers along the outside of the building…Mormon Trail, Oregon Trail, California Trail, and even one for the Pony Express. Here is the Naturalist with her cousins. See why I call them elvish children? Aren’t they adorable?!

It’s a good thing we learned from the last night’s elevator incident and picked partners, because everyone scattered in fright when we walked through the front doors and met up with this wild dude brandishing guns, talkin’ real loud and lookin’ real dirty:

He’s Jim Baker, ex mountain man and guide on the Oregon Trail. He’s a real kick in the pants, and I enjoyed him. Interestingly, when our motley bunch of kids encountered someone even more wild than they were, they got REALLY quiet and good natured. Like 7 little angels.

Once you pay the ticket fee (worth it!) you ride up Nebraska’s second longest escalator and enter into a series of rooms that detail what life was like to journey on the trailways…first in pioneer groups, then in trains, and then in automobiles. It is a multimedia, multisensory experience that all the kids enjoyed. And remember, the ages span from 3-12, so I was pretty impressed with how it kept them all involved.

Some of the displays were sad and bittersweet, particularly since I have ancestors that walked along pushing handcarts on the Mormon Trail.

After the sights in the building, the kids ran through the “Trailblaze Maze” which I just read is the only maze between Chicago and Denver on I-80. So, there you go. We all got through it within 15 minutes, so it’s not too overwhelmingly large that you lose kids for hours. Which is always a concern when I take the kids to the gosh darn corn field mazes in October around here.

After this, we cruised up I-29 through Iowa and South Dakota…but I’ll have to save those events for another post. There’s just so much to post about! Almost being hit by lightning! Lewis and Clark! Finally getting to Big Stone Lake in Minnesota! So much to write, so little time.

The Sassy Princess just settled down for a nap after yelling out to me about every bug and beetle she found in and around her windows, so I’ll take this opportunity to actually shower before 3 in the afternoon and end this very educational post and save the rest for later.

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3 Responses

  1. Thoroughly enjoying it from this end.
    I am pondering if an extended roadtrip can really be so fun. Not that I doubt you, you understand, just thinking of my babes (2 ande 6) and the wiggle factor.
    But I am sorely tempted to toss them in with a can of Pringles and hit the open road…

  2. I’m getting quite the education from these posts! Thank you so much for putting this out there.

  3. LOL Stephanie, “a can of pringles”. 🙂

    I love the look on the kiddos faces next to wild Jim Baker. What an adventure!

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