Tuesday, May 31, 2016

North Platte to the Badlands of South Dakota

It was very noisy at the motel with noise from the parking lot but eventually I slept well. In the morning it was much cooler (57 F) and we each had a waffle, so a good start to the day.

Before we left North Platte we drove  a mile or so to view the largest train marshaling yard in the world. This is just a small part of it since it is eight miles long and two miles wide.

North Platte lies at the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers. This is the northern version.

We took the blue route.

Sometimes photos turn out better than they should.

The drive north turned out to be much better than we expected. There was not much traffic and the scenery was lovely.

We stopped briefly at an overlook.

The northern part of Nebraska is quite sandy. It reminded us of driving along the southern Australian coast.

We slowed down for a group of horsemen herding some cattle.

Deserted road, quite different from the busy interstates.

We stopped at the town of Valentine and I spotted this sandal laying in the middle of the street. There was no matching sandal to be seen.

Valentine appeared to be a reasonably prosperous town with a number of interesting buildings.

We were intrigued by this facade.

The old City Hall.

Somehow I liked this image with the power poles behind the charging soldier.

The local Masonic Lodge.

Further north we came across Indian settlements. 

All the houses were similar and relatively small.

We each had a hamburger at a diner in White River SD. I was not as troubled as I looked and the hamburger was pretty good.

We arrived just before the rush of the local workers who were all male with pickup trucks.

The Badlands in the distance.

The Badlands formations.

It was a wonderful drive, particularly in Nebraska.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Des Moines to North Platte

One of the standard plane routes from the east to west coast flies over North Platte. The shape of the bend in the Platte River in Nebraska is quite distinctive so I can quite easily recognize it as I gaze out from the window.

Since we were driving out that way, I wanted to see what it was like at ground level. This is a screen shot of Flightradar24 that shows the position of all the commercial planes in the air in the world.

Another long day's drive.

It was pretty simple to drive out of Des Moines and we were soon out in the corn fields.

The wind whistling down the plain makes good conditions for wind mills. There were hundreds of them, all turning.

The corn is not yet as high as an elephant's eye but just wait a few months.

The same cloud.

The patterns are quite intriguing. We thought there were more hills in western Iowa than in the east. However we got the impression that the eastern farms were tidier and more prosperous.

We stopped just before the border of Iowa and Nebraska to climb this tower.

Omaha, Nebraska in the distance.

Looking back to Iowa.

The Missouri River that forms the boundary between the two states. It's the longest river in the USA.

We stopped at a shopping mall area in Omaha for lunch and then headed west. Soon the speed limit was 75 and the car traffic for the most part moved at that speed.

We wondered what the wagon was doing there.

Irrigation for the corn fields.

Nebraska appears to be much flatter than Iowa.

If you have flown over the western states you have probably seen the circular patterns caused by these movable irrigation systems. To get into the corners of the fields, some of the systems have and articulated bend at the end.

I saw a plane up high flying over. No doubt, somebody was looking down at the river.

We reached the part of the journey where the Platt River is close to the highway. There are numerous small lakes beside the river and this is one of them.

More of the lake.

However this is the river near Alda.

Each year, more than 80% of the world's population of sandhill cranes converge on the Platte River.

They arrive each Spring from Texas, Mexico and New Mexico to rest for a while to build up energy for their trip north to the breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia. We were too late in the year.

Somebody had been given permission to build this arch across the freeway. I have no idea why. There are a lot of bugs so the windscreen is dirty.

Cattle as a change from corn fields.

Gothenburg has two of the Pony Express Stations and this is the first of them.

Our Mini in front of the lovely tree.

Inside the building which is basically now a gift store.

The park is quite lovely. The Pony Express only lasted 19 months and was replaced by the telegraph.

Another roadside lake. For the most part, it had been an easy drive along the freeway and we did not feel bored.

Even though the temperature was about 85 degrees, it felt quite pleasant because of a breeze and the low humidity. However about 7 pm a huge storm arrived and we experienced wind, rain and some small hail. Fortunately we were safely in our motel.

You can see the circular irrigated fields.

The storm approaching.

North Platte is approximately our half way mark across the US from home to Seattle. Tomorrow we start the more exciting half.