Wednesday, November 08, 2006

North Platte

Our original plans to camp in the Badlands north of Wanblee fell through, but because it was supposed to be so nice a few of us decided to hold out on camping. On Saturday morning, off a tip by a security guard at the St. Francis Indian School, Jen, Ryan, and I headed towards Lake McConaughy, just north of Ogallala, Nebraska.

Bar & Grill in Cody, Nebraska, where we stopped for a deep-fried lunch (Jen, a vegetarian, had french fries--that was about all that was available). This is actually the backside of the bar. Cody is the town "Too Strong To Die." Or something like that.

About 20 minutes after pulling out of a small town, I was looking at a map, and said, "Wow, that security guard was right, there's nothing for the next sixty miles." To which Jen replied, oh, I meant to gas back there. For a while we it seemed like there was a very real possibility that we would be stranded in the middle of the Sandhills, 30 miles from anything, with no gas. But we coasted on fumes into Hyannis, Nebraska and got refueled.

Hyannis, pop. 280. There are "rooms" above the bar, and I suggested that at some point we end our road trip in Hyannis.

Somewhere in route, Buffalo Bill's ranching cabin. It been relocated from some other town.

Upon arriving at Lake McConaughy, we experienced our first bout of road trip disappointment. "It's so big it looks like the ocean," we had heard, and there were some implications that it was beautiful, as well. Not to be an elitist, northeastern, coast-dwelling bastard, but usually you can't see the other side of the ocean. And usually a bloated puddle next to an oversized, industrial dam is not beautiful. The campsites we found looked like they were at the bottom of a quarry. Not pretty. So we cancelled camping and fell back on Plan B, heading for the bustling metropolis of North Platte.

North Platte is the hometown of "Buffalo Bill" Cody, creator of a Western circus that established many deeply entrenched stereotypes about cowboys and Indians. There are a lot of Cody-themed attractions in North Platte, none of which were open at this point of the year or at our late hour of arrival. Beyond these sites, North Platte is essentially an interstate town, two one-way streets filled with McDonalds and Dairy Queens and Motels. Luckily we are able to make our own fun.

Sunset over beautiful North Platte.

Our first stop was the Cody Trading Post, conveniently located just off I-80.

It looks like a sweet fort.

Me with fake bear outside the Trading Post.

Buffalo Bill Cody. My favorite restaurant when I was a kid was a BBQ place called W. B. Cody's, so this whole town gave me a hankering for some ribs. Considering Jen's lunch of french fries, we decided to go some place more vegetarian friendly for dinner, though.

Inside the Trading Post are not only Western tourist wares (I bought a bobble-headed buffalo), but also an extremely informative "museum."

Educational taxidermy. See, coyotes eat birds.

Two-headed calf. It was born in 1948 and lived for something like 17 hours.

Miniature version of Buffal Bill's Western circus. You can watch the Indian figurines dance!

Authentic Indian mannequin.

After leaving the tourist trap, we headed into town. Soon we stumble across a Goodwill, where I picked up a rugged, cowboy-esque flannel shirt. Next door was Town & Country Western Wear. I've been planning for a while to get myself some cowboy boots, and this was finally my day. The sales girl was very helpful--since I had no idea how cowboy boots were supposed to fit--and hid her bemusement well. Now I just need to break them in.

After dinner we scoped out a few bars, and finally settled on one in North Platte's little downtown area. This wasn't your typical Nebraska scene: these kids were wearing vans and backwards baseball caps; one even had dreads. So in walks flannel-shirted, cowboy-booted me, and I'm clearly the biggest hick in the place--at least until the bartender came over and checked my Connecticut ID (when Ryan ordered a pitcher of Boulevard--instead of the offered selection of Bud, Bud Light, and Miller Light--we were quickly labelled as "rich northeasterners." Although Ryan is from Michigan.) I was also singing loudly along to Weezer and Three 6 Mafia, probably not typical cowboy behavior. Later we went to Wal-Mart to do some late night shopping, and as I walked into the All-American store in my All-American apparel, Jen took a photo. A couple of other shoppers walked by and asked sarcastically if we didn't shop much. And when it comes down to it--no, we don't.


And that was about it--enough to make it a good Saturday night. The next morning we headed back on the road. Because I had no school Monday, I was pretty relaxed on our drive back Sunday afternoon. We pulled off at a scenic overlook to admire the Dismal River (not deserving of its name) and dream of easy days of floating with the drift.

Dismal River.

Later we were stopped by a train, causing the most congestion we saw all trip.

One more photo that has absolutely nothing to do with North Platte (If you can't tell, it's from Carhenge). Its pretty much the perfect photo though, so I had to put it up.


Tim said...

boyce, we need to see that picture of you in cowboy boots/flannel in front of walmart. also, the picture at carhenge looks like it could be an album cover (lonesome crowded west?), if it weren't for the screwed up look your rockin.

Boyce said...

We were trying to imitate the Who. And I'll work on the getting the picture.

Nate said...

"as I walked into the All-American store in my All-American apparel, Jen took a photo."

post this picture

nate said...

just read tim's post...and clearly I agree

Tyler said...

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but... we really do need to see that cowboy pic.

Boyce said...

I emailed Jen but I never heard back from her. I'll bug her about it next time I see it. But better yet, if y'all come to Philly for New Year's you can see the real deal, in the flesh. Or Nate, if you're home for Christmas. Also, I'll update soon, hopefully.