Here I am, emerging from the coma …

School ended nearly a month ago and I am finally getting around to some of the things I’d been putting off, like cleaning my house.  Or breathing.  Showering, too.  Ha ha!  Just kidding.  Well, not about the house.  It’s like an episode of Hoarders some days.

Now that June is nearly over, I have to start turning my brain back on, and that’s always kind of a letdown.  I always reserve June as my “stop thinking and just relax” month.  Trust me — it’s needed after the end of the school year, which is always brutal.  I know teachers sound like whiners when we say this, but until you’ve been there and done that, then you have no idea.

The first vacation I took this year was to Nebraska.  If you’ve read this blog before, then you’re probably thinking that you remember reading something about a Nebraska vacation before.  If that’s the case, then you’d be right.  I did take a Nebraska vacation last year with my honey.  This year we decided to do it again just to make sure we covered the entire state.

Last year we traveled extensively along Highways 20 and 30, marveling at the intensely heavy train traffic, and also venturing off the main roads to explore some rural roads that seemed to stretch into infinity.  Here’s one of my pics from last year:

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While some people’s idea of vacations might be lounging on a Florida beach or living the night life in Vegas, my vacations tend to head the opposite direction.  I like take a break from crowds of people.  I like seeing rural life.  I love driving through small towns and taking pictures of the old signage that they still have.  My honey is the same way, so we enjoy the simple things like driving through Nebraska.

This year we took a different path, driving 1800 miles in all.  I used a program called Trip Tracker to chart our journey.  The program drops pins every so many miles and you can put specific tags on the map as well.  It’s hard to read the specific towns we went through unless the map is zoomed in, but this gives you a general idea:

Day one:  Sioux Falls to Valentine, Nebraska.

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Day two:  Valentine to Scottsbluff.  As you can see, we did not take the direct route.  Lots of stops and driving through small towns along the way ….

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Day 3:  Scottsbluff to Chadron

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Day 4:  Chadron to Grand Island

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Day 5:  Grand Island to Fremont, home of the Uncle Sam’s antique store that I absolutely LOVE.  Lots of great ’50s antiques and cracked ice tables and chairs!

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The next day we drove from Fremont back to South Dakota.

I picked up these great trays from Uncle Sam’s this year:

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I wrote about this store last year after driving through Fremont.  If you are a fan of the 50s and all things retro (especially retro tables and chairs), then make sure you visit this store!  The basement is full of retro goodies:

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There’s a little something for everyone, I do believe.

Anyway … the trip to Nebraska was so much fun and so relaxing.  I loved seeing the beautiful Nebraska countryside and driving through so many remote small towns that were clinging to life after many decades of decline.  While it was sad to see, it was inspiring to see the efforts that some towns were making to keep themselves relevant.

Although many of the pictures I took this year revolved around old school buildings and the Sand Hills, I managed to shoot some other interesting sights as well:

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I absolutely love it when I can see stretches of the old highway alongside the new one.  There’s just something haunting about seeing the asphalt get overtaken with weeds and crumbling as it sits abandoned.

(I’m weird.  I know.)

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This water is called the Dismal River, but here it provides a beautiful scene as it winds itself around the valley near Thedford.

 

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I had never seen Chimney Rock before, and it was a neat experience to view this landmark that so many pioneers had viewed along the Oregon Trail.  There’s a little cemetery near the viewing spot that provides a gentle reminder that to strike out on the trail was a risk, and some didn’t make it to their destinations.

 

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I’m not sure who decided to actually pave Whitman Road, which runs north out of Whitman, but it’s an oddity in the Sand Hills of Nebraska.  This is a one-lane road that stretches on for what seems like eternity.  If you travel it, you will be rewarded with the views of desolate, sparsely populated, yet beautiful country.  The road is rough so I wouldn’t recommend taking your little Ford Focus down this road.  A vehicle with AWD or 4WD would be a good idea.

 

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This sign, found in Scottsbluff, made my day.  What a great sign!  So much color and it just conveys happiness.

 

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I originally thought this old theater was still in operation … until I realized that the “movie posters” were actually ads for the chiropractor who now operates a business there.

 

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As always, I was able to capture some great signs that are still holding onto life along the highways of America.  Long live neon and arrows!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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