It was the 1st of April when I decided to purchase a vehicle to replace my 1991 Ford Explorer, or as my adult son called her, “The Exploder.” He and several close friends believed that upon my retirement six years prior, I should have purchased a new car. I gave it some thought but buying another vehicle easily drifted from my frugal conscious mind.
My old four-wheel travel companion safely allowed me and my two kids to cover distances from the Northern VA / DC metro area to Rapid City South Dakota, Minneapolis Minnesota, St. Louis Missouri, Bowling Green Kentucky, Orlando Fl and thousands of miles in between.
When I took possession of my new/used car, the sale lady noticed the somber look on my face as we approached the two vehicles parked side by side. My emotions stirred about this inanimate object I had possessed for over two decades. As I transferred items from one vehicle to the other, I thought to myself and imagined how far could the new/used car take me? Would it travel pass 250,000 miles as the Exploder had?
Two months later on June 4, 2016, I began living my Nomadic life as a full-time RV’er in my 1998 Coleman Cheyenne Pop-up trailer. During the first month, I stayed at my home campground, The Presidential Resorts in Spotsylvania Virgina where the RV was stored.
My creative inspirations blossomed as I hiked, biked, and photographed wildlife and landscapes. So, during my first month on the road, I realized my passion was writing, developing plots, building the personality of the character I created. Sadly my fishing kayak secured to the roof of “Snowflake” the name I gave the SUV, became a casualty to being sold as my fishing time diminished.
I soon ventured north towards Corning NY in the Lower Finger Lakes region of upstate New York which became an incredible experience. I discovered why several of my Southwest Florida friends traveled north to the New England areas because every evening provided great viewing of stars filling the night sky, with temperatures in the mid 70’s turning my one night stay into five days.
My next stop was my hometown of St. Louis Mo, for a family reunion with over 150-people attending, I took the obligatory photos of the Gateway Arch, from the steps of the old court house.
But after, five days of bounding with over 150 family members, while enjoying great food, I continued west with my destination set on Glacier National Park in Montana. After an hour of traveling westbound on interstate-80, in Nebraska. The old travel statement or phrase came to mind, “The worst travel experience is to drive the interstate.) The monotonous landscape of farmlands was simply boring.
If you take the opportunity to traveled north, south, east or west through the states of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, or North, and South Dakota, the sights can become very similar causing many a traveler to speed through, stopping only for gas or food. So the back roads I took which can be time consuming howerver, more enjoyable as you travel from town to town.
I stopped for food and gas in Kearney Nebraska because of the Archway Museum to the west stretching across both east and westbound lanes of interstate-80.
My curiosity and wonderment to learn more about millions of settler emigrant who crossed the US between 1841-1880’s before the railroads were built, slowed my travel desires for the next month with stops in North Platte and Scotts Bluff Nebraska.
At the Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center in Scotts Bluff Nebraska I learn about the history of settlers traveling over 2100 miles by foot seeking lands of their own to farm, gold to dig in California and others escaping religious persecution provided me with an appreciation of my current mode of travel.
Many of the diaries of those who traversed the Oregon, 49’er and Mormon Trials provided distinctive personal accounts of the incredible adventures and the hardships expereienced along the trail. Incredibly parts of the trail is currently visible to this day along with the iconic natural markers dotting the prairies of western Nebraska like skyscrapers in any major city.
I developed a special kinship after conversations with US National Parks personnel, the lead librarian at Lieds Library and speaking with local people all of whom were gracious and hospitable during my visit.
I discovered a majority of the residents living in Scotts Bluff Nebraska are direct descendants of settlers who crossed the vast prarielands to settle among the indigenous people and I learned about the descendants of Japanese Americans who lived in internment camps during World War Two who stayed to call Scott’s Bluff their home.
Traveling across the US excites the curious explorer within my adventurous soul, so as I pass the vast prairie lands first navigated by foot then horse before anyone considered homes, highways, & businesses. I learned the people who cross these lands to settled and establish the small towns they call them home were true adventurers.
The second part of my travels & photography will be forth coming.
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