Friday, May 22, 2015

Nebraska to Iowa

Our eastward stroll continues.
After leaving Lake Ogallala we had a strenuous 1 hour drive to North Platte, Neb
where we spent the night and visited the Union Pacific Bailey Switching Yard.

The Bailey Yard is the largest rail switch yard in the world.
Measuring 2 miles wide by 8 miles long the yard processes over 14,000 rail cars
per day.

Trains are broken apart, the cars sorted and placed on the right tracks with other cars
going to the same city.   On average a rail car spends less than 11 hrs in the yard before
it moves out towards its destination.

There are separate facilities for both eastbound and westbound trains.

There is also a repair facility for the Power Units (Locomotives).
This shop was featured on Modern Marvels.
They repair about 350 Power Units per month.

There are also fueling facilities for trains passing thru and they pump
about 12 million gallons of fuel per month.

We viewed the yard from the top of the Golden Spike tower.
8 floors up the view of the yard and surrounding area was impressive.

The next day it was time to hit the road.
While Kate and I napped, the Doodles drove us to Kearney.

We stopped at Fort Kearney State Historical park.
A previous blog - link here - explains about Fort Kearney.

While in the neighborhood we also did some shopping at Cabellas Store
in Kearney.

Our night was spent at Windmill State Rec Area in Gibbon, Neb.
It was a lovely state park but unfortunately it was a raw and rainy day and
I did not get any pictures of the park.

We had 30amp service and there is water and a dump station in the park.

The next day, onward we pushed.
Traveling thru Omaha, Neb you pass "The Big Coffee Pot"
Sapp Bros Truck Stop is a local landmark that goes back to my days as a trucker.

I've had many a plate of Biscuits and Gravy here.

Our next stop was Prairie Rose State Park in Iowa.
It is a small park on a small lake.
It is quiet and relatively unknown except to locals.
We had the place almost to ourselves.

50amp service is available.   Full Hookups in a separate area up the hill.

The rain had stopped, and while overcast the promise was for sunshine tomorrow.
In the interim we enjoyed watching the Geese and their babies in the lake.

Thursday dawned clear and brisk.
Another 200 miles eastward found us just outside of Cedar Rapids Iowa
at FW Kent County Park.

FW Kent is another park frequented mostly by locals.   It was the start of the
Memorial Day Weekend and this park is first come first serve.
Our early (noonish) arrival on Thursday assured us of a spot for the next two nights.

The park is the nicest county park that I've ever been to and much nicer
than many State Parks.  
We have 50amp service and a dump station is on the way out.

Our morning walk, Kate and Maxine walk the Doodles ahead of us.

The reason for our stop here was to visit the Amana Colonies.
In short the Colonies were started by German Immigrants in the mid 1800's.
A plaque below tells more of the story.

A backyard on a side street.

We visited the main village (and the largest of the 7) Amana.

You might remember the Amana Radar Range??

It was the first microwave oven and was made here.

It was a quiet day to visit the village.

The main road thru the village.

We stopped for lunch.   Of course the food is German and delicious.
Kate had Wienerschnitzel and I had Wurst and Kraut.

I washed it all down with a Bittburger Pilsner Beer which is one of the best in Germany.

Life is too short to drink Miller Light.

Tomorrow morning we push on to Joliet, Illinois for one night, and
then to Maumee Bay State Park in Ohio.

We will spend two nights there on the shore of Lake Erie, and
visit the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.

See you down the road.


  1. I absolutely love the fact that the Doodles can drive so you and Kate can get some rest from time to time. That's got to be helpful in your travels. That photo and the thought of them driving made me chuckle. I LOVE it!

    I enjoyed reading about Amana (and yes, I do remember the Amana Radar Range) and the communal village. This reminded me of another group, the Hutterites, who I believe are also of German descent. They have a village near our son in Manitoba. Each year they have a big sale where the public is invited and we have gone a few times when it was going on while we were in the area. Very, very impressive. The community is meticulous and each member has job specific duties to perform. They are a self sustaining community. The sale includes meats, vegetables, canned goods, frozen items and handmade items such as quilts. Last year when we arrived you should have seen the fanfare when they saw a pickup truck with Texas license plates pull up. Several of the teens lined up and a girl asked if we were really from Texas. You know David... He told them we had heard about their sale and had driven all the way up from Texas just to stop by. Before we could blink word had spread throughout the village that some people from Texas were there. The younger children came running and all lined up, hands behind their backs, standing straight and gawking at us and we kept hearing the word "Texas" being murmured over and over. It was quite funny. After talking with them for a while they discovered who we were.. Joey's parents. We had our grandson with us and they recognized him after a bit. Our son and his wife have a farm very close by and go to the Hutterite sales and stock up on food items. It really was a funny thing to be part of. You would have thought we were aliens from another planet. They were still all lined up watching us as we drove away with all of our purchases. I love that groups like this still exist today. It is refreshing to see young people with a sense of pride and accomplishment. That entire community is spotless!

    I am curious about the Amana village today... The sign photo says many of the homes are now privately owned. Is the village still a communal one or has it now become more main stay? Are the homes sold to outsiders? I read that many are descendants of the original people of the village but just curious if the village exists as it originally did or is it now just another diversified town?

    I have always enjoyed learning about other cultures and how people live that is different from my own so this blog post was very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    By the way... We are still in rain-soaked, soggy Texas. We keep experiencing torrential down pours and thunderstorms daily. Sooooo tired of this weather pattern and ready for some sunshine!

    Safe travels!

  2. Great pic of the doods driving the rig - good thing that dogs are not required to have a heavy rig license - just like the Q Tips driving around Florida!

    Nice pics on the UP yard - I worked in the Santa Fe Yard in Barstow, CA when I was younger - great way to pay for fun and adventure in the late 60's!

  3. Forgot to add - if you get a chance check out the "Hell on Wheels" series - it's about the UP in the really early days. Great show/series.

  4. I hope you had a chance to visit the car museum next door to Cabelas. It's actually part of the Cabelas warehouse.


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