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Sunday, 15 May 2011

I’ve been trying not to talk about the weather – but, like Oscar Wilde, I can resist anything except temptation. Yesterday was… horrible. 43 degrees, windy and grey. We shivered, complained, and in one case got out the long underwear. Last night I slept in my hat – and slept very well.

However, this was supposed to be about the trip I took with Chainsaw Phil, on which the sun did shine for an hour or two (see photos).

Buoyed up by the news that we should be able to rent a plane at Alliance in a few days, we drove across to the ranch supplies shop at Chadron to look at hats. The fact that I came out with a cultivator for my vegetable garden is neither here nor there. The Chainsaw was overcome by the sight of so many stetsons, and emerged… well, there he is standing on Mercy’s hood looking mean and ornery. And in case you’re wondering what he’s about to do, let me assure you he’s just cinching up his new leather belt prior to taking a photo of the freight train that’s coming up the grade.

And there it is, one Burlington Northern and Santa Fe loco, a-steamin’ and a-rollin’….

I’m not quite sure what we were doing, having so much fun. This was supposed to be an educational sort of day. We’d looked at the possibility of visiting the Agate Fossil Beds or the Hudson-Meng bison kill site. We ended up heading for Toadstool Park to look at strange rock formations, but of course, as I explained en route, you can’t go to Toadstool without taking the side road to High Plains (pop. 4 – or is it 2?) and the old Cook Shack. Last time I was there they still had 5 cent coffee.

They were between meals when we arrived, and we were the only visitors, but the guy rustled up a solid sort of lunch of shredded beef, beans and beer, after which we took a stroll around the little town they’ve rigged up there, complete with general store and calaboose.

Then the short drive to the park. I’ve put up a general view of the strange hills that are formed by various rivers having crossed this open land and deposited all sorts of sands, gravels, clays, and half-formed rocks. You get the general idea from the final shot.

 I’m no geologist. The Chainsaw is: he got a degree in the subject several decades ago, and he admitted to being perplexed.

So that was Friday. Yesterday, as I said, was not nice. We did get out in the hills here, but hurriedly made for the shelter of the trees up-river. And in the evening, it being Saturday, we decided to head for the bright lights.

The Sand Bar in Merriman had an impressive range of spirituous liquors, not quite so many beers, a pool table and one customer. Well, three after we came in and livened the place up. Turned out there was a big graduation party somewhere – and we hadn’t been invited. So we did our best to blend in. We watched Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda on the TV, sank a couple of PBRs (Pabst Blue Ribbon) and drove home along a dark and deserted Highway 61. Tomorrow, we told ourselves, is another day.

And indeed, the rain has stopped, the sun has been seen, the temperature is nudging 46, and any time now half a dozen ladies will show up.  Yee-ha!

Or not, as the case may be. The hunters have left us, but the lady trail-riders – plus horses – are about to move in. I cannot imagine what it’ll be like – but you can guarantee it’ll make the front page tomorrow.


  1. Isn't it against the law in Nebraska to have that much fun?
    Your pictures are great!

  2. C'mon, Daisy... The land of the free and the home of the brave.

  3. After the Horse back ride, I'm sure you are counting yourseld as very brave and with a big cowboy heart :-}


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