Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Western Nebraska

We drove out of Kearney two days ago and connected up with Highway 2,  a scenic by-way through the sand hills of Nebraska- actual designation on the road signs is "Sandhills Journey".   This area has the largest stabilized sand dunes in the western hemisphere.  And this is the west as I remember it from my trips through it in previous years- vast expanses of rolling grassy hills with only herds of livestock in sight.
We did have our first sighting of a pronghorn antelope on Monday.  We also followed along a railroad for many miles, and I think we saw about a total of 5 different train loads heading east, all loaded with coal.  Someone in Council Bluffs informed us that those trains pull an average of 160 cars.
On Tuesday we left Highway 2 in Alliance, Nebraska in order to take a more northerly journey to South Dakota.  John was determined to see Carhenge, a most unusual sight sitting out on the Nebraska prairie.
Carhenge is a full-scale replication of Stonehenge, England's ancient mystical alignment of stones which chart the phases of the sun and moon.  Its artist, Jim Reinders, lived in England for a part of his life and desired to copy Stonehenge on his father's land back in Nebraska.  With the help of family members this became a reality in 1987.  The sculpture was created from vintage cars primarily from the 1950s and 1960s.  They were all painted grey, planted trunk down and rise 15 to 17 feet.  The cars are approximately 7 feet wide; the same size as the standing stones of Stonehenge. 
What a pleasant surprise, after seeing miles of sand hills, to come upon towering buttes and ponderosa pines!
 This is Pine Ridge, the state's northwest ridge which runs 20 miles wide and 100 miles deep.  Of course, we covered only a small portion of that territory!  We then came to the South Dakota line and a welcome sign which notes that is is a state of "Great Faces, Great Places".  More on that later!

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