Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Our Nebraska Travels

{ this is a repeat, with updates, of a post I wrote years ago. forgive me if you've read it already }

My husband and I took, what I guess you can call a road trip, a little over two years ago. He had to do some flight instructing in Nebraska for work, so I tagged along since we were going to eastern Colorado after he was finished working anyways. So road trip it was! Our little trip took us up through Wyoming to Nebraska, and then a couple of days later through Nebraska to eastern Colorado to visit his family.

the view from atop Scotts Bluff National Monument

I hadn't really seen much, if any, of Wyoming before our road trip. Seeing new places always excites me. You can just imagine my excitement when I spotted my first wild antelope during our drive! Seeing animals for the first time in the wild always makes me jump for joy! It's the little things, really. You should have seen me when we saw dolphins, in the wild, on our honeymoon. Joy.

The drive to Scotts Bluff alone was exciting to me. Nothing like a good old fashioned road trip to get new energy flowing. The plains are beautiful in a very different way than many popular tourist destinations. There's something incredibly peaceful to the lack of land development. Looking around and seeing fewer buildings is good for the soul now and then.

During our time in Nebraska, we took a little side trip to the Scotts Bluff National Monument. One word: incredible. Okay... maybe just one more word: inspiring. We were pleasantly surprised by free entrance to the park on the day of our visit. They were cleaning and preparing for National Parks Week, so we scored free entrance to drive up to the overlook.

walking a tiny portion of what used to be the Oregon trail

We basically touched history at the Scotts Bluff National Monument! The park ranger told us if we walked the paved path that ended on a dirt path, we would end up on what used to be part of the Oregon Trail back in the day. We actually walked part of the Oregon Trail! I told Nate that I hoped we wouldn't have to forge the river ahead {Oregon Trail anyone?!}, and he didn't find that to be as funny as I did. We also both survived the trip to the Bluffs without dying of dysentery {sorry, just one last Oregon Trail mention}. All joking aside, the park was beautiful.

Our visit to Scotts Bluff National Monument made me a bit nostalgic. I told Nate that I wished we could ride around in wagons. It didn't take much mention of snakes and animals to make me feel very grateful for my Jeep Liberty 'wagon' instead of the fabric covered ones they rode down the Oregon Trail. How brave!

After setting foot on the actual Oregon Trail, we got into our Jeep Liberty 'wagon' and started driving to the overlook. I couldn't help but think about all of the history held in the layers of the bluffs all around us. It sort of made me want to learn more about archaeology! I loved my archaeology classes in college, and they might have been my favorite classes of all. It was amazing to think of how long ago these rocks were created and that each layer tells a different story. They estimated the top of the bluff to have eroded at least a foot since the 1930's! I wonder where it's headed? Hope it sticks around for a while so that everyone can experience its beauty.

The view from the overlook was breathtaking! We discovered some hiking trails that led all around the high part of the bluff. The weather was a bit windy, and we weren't dressed for hiking (we were not planning a visit to the bluffs) so we merely ventured about 30 feet onto the trails. We did enjoy many beautiful views of Scotts Bluff and the surroundings. We even spotted Chimney Rock in the distance, which was tough to see from the elevation of the town. It was almost as if you could see forever in every direction! The air was so much more clear than the polluted city air of Denver.

The landscape, plants, and animals were amazing. I spotted a tree clinging for dear life to the side of the bluff. It would be a long fall if those roots let loose. Nature has some amazing survival techniques!

The landscape was incredibly varied depending on which direction you looked. The town and river were to the north. You couldn't spot a bluff or mountain to the northwest. The south/southeast had more bluffs and varied land. It's amazing how many times I had flown over (even visited once) this part of the country without knowing what beautiful landscapes could be found on ground level. Maybe next time I fly over the plains I'll imagine more things like this below me.

After leaving the Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nate and I snooped around a bit. We found this quiet little neighborhood near a golf course on our way back into town.

Nothing like a golf cart sign to bring you back down to reality.

Just in case you were starting to feel connected with nature, the signs reminds you that you're in a human world. Yes. After leaving the bluffs, we drove right down to Dairy Queen for Blizzards and chicken fingers! Nothing like some human creature comforts after getting connected with the wild history of the West.

Overall, our little road trip was surprising and relieving. It's always nice to get out of the city every once in a while. The land was not always what I expected, and it was surprisingly often more beautiful than I had anticipated. Not to mention, there were some pleasant surprises along the way.

Sometimes you just have to open your eyes to the beauty around you!

this song does fly over states justice....
but that doesn't mean you shouldn't see them for yourself


  1. Wow! What beautiful scenery...and how neat that you were able to walk the Oregon Trail (totally got the reference...I LOVED that computer game)!

  2. Beautiful photos Ashley! This is just the kind of trip my husband would love. :) The scenery is just gorgeous!

    Hope you are gearing up for a Happy HALLOWEEN tomorrow! xo

  3. I dated a guy that lived in Scottsbluff so I've been there and to the monument and it was pretty cool!