Friday, September 30, 2011

Chimney Rock

I must start today with pictures of the pheasants we saw yesterday, our latest wild critter.

I realize I keep adding more and more pictures so I hope I am not boring some of you with too many.  For me this is what it is all about.  A picture tells a thousand words, right!  Unfortunately, I have not yet received any comments from anyone so I don't know.  I am thrilled to see my member list growing and I know there are others who are following us that have not yet become members.  I also know part of the reason for this is probably because it is a pain in the butt to become a member.  I imagine it is also difficult to comment.  Wish I could do something about it, that's where the "free" part of being able to do the blog is a pain.

I digress.  Today we drove to Chimney Rock about 25 miles away.  Before we headed out though, we stopped at the sugar mill to see if we could have a tour.  They don't do that any more unfortunately, OSHA regs. and all.  Had to capture the giant sugar beet sculpture in the foreground.  Mountains of sugar beets!

This last picture shows the "back side" of Scotts Bluff and in the foreground the green plants are sugar beets.    Not to worry, just a field away is corn!

So, Chimney Rock.  You cannot get close to the site as it is surrounded by private land.  Again, it was a major landmark for the pioneers and was highly written about and documented by them.

On our way back we drove through the tiny town of McGrew.  Had to take a picture of the Pink Palace for obvious reasons fellow Parrotheads!!!!

This little church also caught my eye.

We had our picnic lunch in this tiny town.  Note behind the fire department the tower with the yellow horns attached.  This is the tornado warning system and most towns we've seen have it somewhere.

Our last stop today was a wool mill.  Very cool.  Not operating today but we were given a tour anyway of all the machinery and told of the process.  Unfortunately,  I was not allowed to take pictures inside so what you see was from the gift shop.  They sell all over the world but are a small operation.

Hanging with the clogs are wool flip huh?

Before we got home, we stopped at a real meat market for steak for dinner tonight!

Mike's getting out the bar-b-que right now to do the steaks.....gotta go!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hiking Scotts Bluff

Our first real hike in a long while!  Scotts Bluff Nat'l Monument is in our back yard right now and it makes a pretty backdrop.  Scotts Bluff is known for being a landmark on the trail out west.  The pioneers passed by knowing they were now a third of the way to their new home, the pony express used the trail and the gold miners traveled the route to the gold rush.

This morning we climbed it and it was nice hike.  The weather was awesome and the view was also.

  This picture was taken as we neared the top of the trail looking down on our campground.  If you look  behind the brown building in the foreground, you can see part of the top and front window of Paradise!

You can see the path we took in this one as we climbed the bluff.

 View from the top, click on the picture.
 We made it!
This next pic shows Chimney Rock Nat'l Monument 25 miles across the plains.  Can you see the chimney?

Back at the bottom here I am trying out a Mormon wagon.  They would pull this full of all their worldly possessions.  I am sure I would not have been smiling....probably would not have even made it!

Here is the trail as it goes by the bluff.

This afternoon we also drove out in the prairie to see an old trading post and visit graves of some of the pioneers who did not make it.

It was another good day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


We saw pronghorn antelope today!  As you can see, they are really pretty animals.  (don't forget to tap on the pic for a close up) They were out on the prairie as we were driving towards Agate Fossil Beds National Monument this morning.

The fossil beds were very interesting.  Totally different from our last fossil experience in Ashfall.  There is no excavating at this site.  Many fossils have been removed and are in various museums elsewhere so even this display at the visitor center was all reproduction.

They did have something interesting there though that have not been found anywhere else.  Spiral formations in the rock have turned out to be fossilized burrows from a beaver like creature that lived millions of years ago.

Also, at the visitor center, a room was devoted to a collection of Lakota Indian items.  Everything in the room was given to James Cook who owned the ranch where the fossils have been found.  Cook had a close relationship with Chief Red Cloud and had many visits from the chief and his family in the 1900's.  Chief Red Cloud gave things to Cook and his family in hopes that Cook would take care of them and display them for all to see as the chief knew if these things were not preserved, they would disappear with the changing times.

This is just a sample, it was quite a collection.

Then we went to a winery in Mitchell, Prairie Vine.  I did not like their reds at all, did not like the nose or the taste.  Their sweeter wines were OK.  They directed us to another winery just across the border in Wyoming,  Table Mountain Vineyard near Huntley, WY.  So we drove out to it, a much nicer experience right at the vineyard.  There wines were much better but nothing still really caught my eye.

Well today was warm here, high 80s.  Tomorrows high will be much different, low 70's which will be OK with us because we are going to hike Scotts Bluff!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gering, NE

Well we are here in Gering, NE.  Unfortunately, the internet speed is horrible and we may not be able to do much here.  The weather, however, is beautiful so there you are.

Let's try....

After we left the roundup yesterday we drove along the Niobrara River.  Very scenic.  Saw our first bald eagle, lots of wild turkey and cattle, of course, there is cattle everywhere in NE.

Then we drove back to the refuge to watch the rangers herd some of the bison into corrals for the weeding out and testing and chipping, if necessary.  That was very cook because there were catwalks all around and through the corrals and we could walk around and see a lot that went on.

In the second picture a bison has just been guided into this squeeze box so that, in the next picture, the ranger can tag his ear.  No easy task.  This took several tries.  The whole operation was very interesting and we were thrilled to be able to see it all.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bison Roundup

This morning we drove out the to Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge again because we wanted to witness, if possible, the roundup of the bison.  This is the time of year when they are moved to their winter grounds.  But before that happens the rangers, and help, herd the bison into the corrals for inspection, tagging, DNA sampling and weeding some out for sale.

We had quite the show!  There were no bison in sight when we got there but were assured they were being round up and should be appearing over the hill soon.  Keeping in mind that these are huge pasture areas when they showed up with cowboys and trucks moving them, they were moving fast and some of the herd broke off and came right toward us!  I was sitting on top of an 8ft steel fence and felt pretty comfortable until this group came toward us and one of them actually hit the fence!

I was not able to copy the video to this blog but have a couple of them that I will try to put on Facebook or UTube.  Here are a couple of pictures at least.

Tomorrow we leave Valentine for Gering, NE.  I am going to sign off now and post this cause it's late. I will finish our adventures of today tomorrow as it is a travel day anyway.

Eisenhower State Park, Kansas

We are enjoying our 3 week stay here at Eisenhower State Park  in northeast Kansas.  Another large lake, Melvern Lake, and beautiful scenic ...