Leaving Valentine we drove east across Nebraska to the city of Lincoln. The scenery changed dramatically from Sandhills and open ranch land to miles and miles of corn fields. I have never seen so many corn fields in a state before. I can understand why the University of Nebraska located in Lincoln is called the “Cornhuskers.” The University is big in Lincoln – Cornhusker football is huge. We were lucky that there was no home game the weekend we wanted to stay in the RV park as they are always booked way in advance. The stadium seats 81,000 and has been sold out every game since 1962, over 350 games. We were told during Cornhusker games the stadium is the third largest city in Nebraska! We saw many people in Lincoln wearing their Cornhusker pride in shirts, jackets, sweatshirts; the town is a bright red! I have to confess though, that I have never been a football fan and do not follow any of the teams. Below is a picture of the stadium.
We stayed eight nights in Lincoln and it was a good stay in a pretty nice town. Our RV park was very different than what we left in Valentine which was outside of town, surrounded by farm fields and quiet. In Lincoln we were surrounded by interstates! The park is actually quite pretty, shaded with many trees and in a nice setting, but the freeways are right next door and cars are zooming. When I walked around the first day we arrived, I saw a couple sitting in chairs outside their motor home and they were at the edge of the park and very close to the freeway above them. They looked relaxed and happy, not bothered by the noise. This is a top rated RV park because it has many amenities. I guess you can get use to the freeway noise after awhile. Luckily we were in the middle of the park and therefore further away from the traffic.
Lincoln is the capitol of Nebraska and I have to say I love visiting state capitol buildings. I have seen about 15 of them during my travels, although some only from the outside. This building features a 400 foot tower that is the second highest behind Louisiana.
I was surprised that on a Saturday morning I could just walk into the building without any security or staff at the door and wander around. The building is magnificent inside and you can learn a lot about a state from the capitol and a capitol tour. There is always a great deal of artwork and historical information depicting important events, people and places.
Lincoln has about 10 museums and of the three we visited, the Nebraska State Museum was the best. The museum features an incredible collection of prehistoric fossils including skeletons of camels, horses, llamas, wolverines, dogs, rhinoceros and giant land tortoises. Remains of more than 10,000 extinct elephants have been found in Nebraska, but most of the state has not been carefully explored for fossils. We read that if you live in this state, the odds are one in ten that you have an elephant fossil beneath your house! Below is a picture of some of the elephant skeletons:
The museum also has mammoth skeletons found in Nebraska including the largest mounted mammoth in any American museum. Mammoth were considered the largest mammals known to have walked the Great Plains. Chickens on a Nebraska farm in 1922 actually “discovered” this mammoth’s bones by continually pecking at something in the ground.
The museum was featuring an interesting exhibit honoring the 90th birthday of “Miss Mie,” a Japanese friendship ambassador doll that has been part of the collection since 1928. The doll came to the United States from Japan in 1927 when 58 friendship dolls were sent to the 48 states. The dolls were gifts to American children in exchange for the American blue eyed dolls given to the children of Japan. The dolls were to teach tolerance and understanding to children and improve strained relationships between the two countries. The day we were at the museum a party was being held for Miss Mie with speeches, cupcakes, traditional Japanese music, origami crafts and Japanese calligraphy with brush painting.
After our museum visit we wandered around the University campus to see the buildings and the many outdoor sculptures. My favorite is this sculpture called “Torn Notebook” which I find quite clever and applicable to being on a school campus. I am sure that many students at one time or another would like to tear up their paperwork in frustration!
I first began to realize the power of Midwest storms while staying here. In California and especially the Central Valley weather was predictable, mild and generally sunny most of the time. Thunderstorms and rain occur regularly here and the thunder and lightning can put on quite a show. Once in the middle of the night I was awake in bed listening to a particularly ferocious thunderstorm. The thunder was so loud and roaring and the rain pounding so hard on the trailer that I felt like a small kid who wants to crawl under the bed and hide! Although our trailer is fairly well insulated, you can really hear a rainstorm pounding on the roof.
Mark and I like to take walks and there was a city park with paths very close to where we were staying. It was here that we noticed the disc golf course and saw several people making the rounds. We decided it would be a great way to get some exercise so we headed to Scheel’s Sporting Goods store, bought some discs and gave it a try. Although challenging for us (especially me who has little throwing ability), we thought it was fun and decided we would try different disc courses in the towns and cities where we land during our travels.
The butterflies are migrating! During an afternoon at the lovely sunken garden in Lincoln I was surprised and pleased to see so many butterflies covering the flowering plants and bushes. It was a butterfly extravaganza! Lots of butterflies continued to be a treat as we traveled around the Midwest.
As always, thank you for reading. In my next post I will talk about a few day trips we made to the city of Omaha.