Monday, September 30, 2013

Buffalo Bill Cody in North Platte, Ernie Palmquist's Carvings, The State Capitol Building in Lincoln, Nebraska

 I had spotted the Buffalo Bill Trading Post last night, in North Platte, Nebraska, when we were at the Whiskey Creek Grill, and insisted that we go back when it opened this morning.  A trip west is not complete without a stop or two at a trading post!

This one is dedicated to the memory of William Frederick Cody, known as "Buffalo Bill" to most of the world.

 Bill Cody was born in Iowa, but his wild west show was stationed in North Platte.  People came from all over to see it here.  He also took it abroad and traveled the west with it. Randy and I have been to Cody, Wyoming to see the dam named for him, and we've visited his grave on top of Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado.  Everywhere you go in the West, Buffalo Bill Cody is a figure larger than life.  He owned a 4,000 acre ranch in North Platte.

This trading post was more than a store. In the back of the large fort-styled store is an entire room with glass encased areas filled with tiny little figures portraying the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, which had its home in North Platte.

A man named Ernie Palmquist and his wife, of Pennsylvania, carved each and every one of those 20,000 figures from wood.  He created tents, railroads, picnic tents, horses, crowds of people, and Indians dancing war dances, all out of wood. It took over twelve years to complete all of this.

Every thirty minutes of the day, for five minutes each time, the Wild West Show in the back of the trading post comes to life, and the train starts moving, the Indians dance , the picnickers eat, the bronco riders get bucked off, and all the rest of the scenes have something moving.  It was amazing when it started, and I walked from case to case, totally in awe of what this man had created. For the five minutes that the figures came to life, I was a little kid again, excited over something simple but yet not simple.

In the second photo above, even though it's not a good one, I want to show you the overall picture of the enormity of this creation. Look through the first display.  It was dimly lit in there, but you can see many of the little figurines.  Check out the crowd under the big tent in the last one, below.  Each one is a hand-made and hand-painted person! What a great legacy!

The Wild Bill Trading Post was complete with Native American Jewelry and some Chinese-made souvenirs.  One major attraction is the two-headed calf.  Here it is in all its glory. Or should it be, "Here they are in all their glory?"

We drove 300-some miles today, and as we had finished our Iris Johanson audio book, we reached into the box behind the driver, and brought out the next one.  Now we're listening to O is for Outlaw, one of the "alphabet mysteries," by Sue Grafton.  I've never read one of her books, so this is a good way to find out if I like them.  So far so good.   I have to admit that we tried "Learn Spanish in 3 Months," before we got out the mystery.  Randy and I rode along trying to perfect how to speak Spanish for all of fifteen minutes, before we tossed that one back into the box and said, "Later!"
We've also stuffed an imaginary rag into Thelma's mouth, and technically gagged her.  She talked too much. We've replaced her with a man's voice, and named him Sam (for Sam Elliot) until he talks too much and we bring Thelma back. Ya know how you get sick of someone's voice? Four weeks of hearing Thelma say, "Make a U-turn!" and "Recalculating," was enough.
Near Kearney, we saw a sign that declared the city to be "The Sandhill Crane Capital of the World."  I know you won't be surprised that we didn't see a single one.  We also read that there are over 400 species of birds that can be seen there over time.
One thing we did see in Kearney was the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, which is a huge arch that looks like a covered bridge. It arches over the interstate.  We understand that there are  interactive displays telling the history of the Platte River area inside this arch.  We had to drive under it and keep on going today.
We had a picnic lunch at a rest area shortly past Kearney, then drove on to the capital of Nebraska, Lincoln.
We had the tripod out of the car in a flash and tried to take our regular Capitol Building picture, but this capitol building is an odd one!  It's tall like the one in North Dakota, but it has the dome, which I consider a requirement.  So tall and domed was hard to get into one shot, and we even asked a young man to shoot one, but he somehow missed.  Here is my rendition of a composite photo of Randy and me in front of the Capitol Building of Nebraska. The statue on the top of the building is a man sowing seed, named "The Sower."
This may take a bit of imagination on the part of the viewer.....but it's the best I can do without a hard copy and a pair of scissors. You get the idea, anyway.............right?
The inside of the capitol was totally different.  We've noticed that the insides have a flavor of the state they represent, and Nebraska's gets across the idea that there is a Native American heritage and that the state depends on agriculture.  This picture, of the top of the ceiling in the rotunda, was taken as I stood below it and off-center.  That is actually a chandelier hanging there, and it hides the beautiful ceiling if seen from directly below it.  Since the dome is all those floors above this room, there is no light coming through the rotunda ceiling.

My favorite part of the interior of the capitol is a closed door. It was explained that the Nebraska government used to consist of two bodies, but due to cost factors it was reduced to one.  That means they closed off the chambers where the second body used to meet.  Instead of just locking the door, they chose a magnificent piece of artwork depicting the Native American heritage of Nebraska.
Four large paintings surround the rotunda walls.  This one, bright and modern, honors Nebraska's agriculture and farmers.

One last picture, this from the street.  Directly in front of the capitol building is a statue of Abraham Lincoln.  His Gettysburg Address is etched into the wall behind him.

Tonight we are settled into a Comfort Inn on the west side of Omaha, Nebraska.  We stopped here because we didn't want to deal with the casinos and casino motels over the Iowa state line.  Our hotel clerk told us that Guy Fieri, of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, on the Food Network, had done a segment at the sports bar next to our motel.  We went.  We ate.  I don't think Guy had the salad that I tried to eat.   'Nuff said.
Tomorrow we will go on to Iowa, birthplace of my father.  We won't be visiting his hometown this trip, though.  We've done that before............twice.   Instead, we are working our way home!
Copyright: KP Gillenwater 2013


Rawlins and Cheyenne, Wyoming; The Lincoln Monument on the Lincoln Highway, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming's State Capital and Depot Plaza

As I write the title for this post, I am totally amazed at all the things we saw today and we drove for 380 miles!  You know that's a lot for us. We are on the way home, and we're anxious to get there, I think, although ending this extended roaming adventure will be hard to do.

We woke in Rawlins, Wyoming, and drove back across the city to see the Federal Prison where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were held back in the day.

 The funny thing is that we realized, once we got there, that we'd already been there together.  We remember having a picnic lunch in front of the prison that time.  It was closed today, so we looked it over and shot a picture. I include the prison information sign, also.

(I am mildly concerned that we'd both forgotten the first visit until we got there today....)  But think of the potential for future travel, if you will...........we could see the entire country a second time, and it would all be "new" to us!

 We drove the rest of the route through southern Wyoming through the Medicine Bow National Forest.  We could see Medicine Bow Mountain in the distance for a very long while.  The town itself is some distance south of Interstate 80.
There is only one monument dedicated to Abraham Lincoln on the entire Lincoln Highway.  It was actually built in 1959. That is pretty sad, considering you could technically drive from Times Square to the Golden Gate Bridge, which is 3,389 miles, on this highway! 
 The monument is near Laramie, and can be seen from the highway itself, but we got off to visit it up closely.  The bust of Lincoln is 13.5 ft. tall and it sits atop a pedestal that is 35 ft. tall, for a total of 48.5 ft high.  Abe is looking at all the traffic going by!  The small museum and the rest area there are both lovely facilities.  Visitors can view movies about all the Wyoming State Parks right there.  We went through the free museum, then had lunch in their picnic area.


 I don't seem to be able to upload my statue photo, so look at the image of it on the sign, above. One below was taken from inside the museum.  You can tell we had a good time in the museum.....

We drove on to Cheyenne, the capital city of the state of Wyoming, and you know that means we had to visit the Wyoming Capitol Building!  It has a great golden dome.  The capitol was closed today since it's Sunday.

We are not standing together, because I couldn't run that far in ten seconds.........
Cheyenne has recently renovated the old depot in the downtown area.  It is just lovely, so clean and fresh.  A museum  and a gift shop are inside.  A large area which would have been the actual station and waiting room holds events.  There is now a very large plaza area that covers the block in front of the depot, and it has picnic tables.
Apparently there are festivals and concerts on the plaza.  Large, artistic boots decorate the front door of the depot and the plaza.
There is also a statue of a traveling woman at the front door of the depot. (If you remember the statue of the man with his baggage in front of the old depot in Tacoma, you may see a continuing theme............)  This woman has arrived, dressed in her traveling clothes, with her suitcase.  Why a woman before a Wyoming depot?  Wyoming was the first state to allow women to vote, so that's a natural!
We left Cheyenne, and finished the drive across southern Wyoming. I add this map from a sign at the Lincoln Museum, to help give you a mental picture of our whereabouts.
We crossed over the Nebraska State Line at about 3:30 this afternoon.  You know the routine!
Now, I'd really love to get excited about Nebraska, and I just might yet.  There has been some interesting scenery so's an idea of that:

The clouds have been beautiful in Nebraska.  There is much farmland here, as you can see.  It may take us a few days to get used to leaving the mountains behind.  Thinking positively, however...........
We arrived in North Platte, Nebraska as dusk was coming on.  We have also lost another hour due  the time zone line we crossed over near here.  We are in the Comfort Inn in North Platte, and had a fantastic steak dinner at a place called Whiskey Creek.  This is beef country.
Right next to our motel is a very lovely Veteran's Memorial, which we investigated before we checked in.  All of the United States Military Services are honored at this memorial.  It was lit up when we saw it, and it is truly a work of love in this community.
Tomorrow we need to make some miles and find some specialness in Nebraska!
Copyright:  KP Gillenwater 2013