Day Nine: Greeley, CO >> Kearney, NE (335 miles)
Up and at ’em! Time for a travel day. After I was able to drag the punks out of bed.
I am proud to admit that by this point we were traveling pros. Packed in no time and ready to head out. We hit the breakfast room before leaving, and it was a little lacking (out of coffee our entire time there and other items needed stocking as well) but still the breakfast fit the bill, so I can’t complain.
I think spending some quality time staying put, first in Utah and then the Rockies, helped recharge our batteries, so we were excited to hit the road.
(Also I should point out that we stopped at a convenience store on the way out of Greeley and bought 3 bags of Rancheritos. Because: Team Rancheritos for LYFE.)
Got a decent chunk into Nebraska before we needed to make a stop. We found a gas station in the middle of nowhere and it was part convenience store, part department-slash-mall-kiosk store? An odd mix for sure.
Before we hit the road again I pulled lunch supplies from the food basket and made yet another round of fluffernutters. You guys, I can honestly only take like one fluffernutter per year. They are delicious but also so, so sugary.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to handle another one and I’m just not a p-butter sandwich kinda person, so I did myself one better while still at the hotel: I made myself an onion bagel with lots and lots of cream cheese. The bagels at the hotel were each individually packaged in Ziploc so it was basically begging to be a stowaway.
Was it any healthier than a fluffernutter? Nope. But I hadn’t had a bagel in probably over a year and that thing tasted like a dream.
The kids however will never tire of fluffernutters.
For dessert I got the kids these special-edition twinkies to try, and they got a big thumbs up. (But let me emphasize: from children. Just a disclaimer.)
Nebraska has some charming gas station chains.
A few more hours in and we were ready for a pit stop, so we stopped in the town of Ogallala to see what’s good.
It was there that we visited the Petrified Wood Gallery. This spot serves as part natural history “museum”, part showcase for the works of twin brothers who are really, REALLY into petrified wood.
For over 50 years, the brothers made sculptures and pictures from the petrified wood they found. These pieces are displayed throughout. They also have many different fossils, rock collections, and bronze “Western” sculptures, as well as artwork from various local artists. And also! They have an entire section dedicated to Native American art and artifacts.
The volunteers gave us some great background information on the artifacts and artwork, and then let us roam. We toured for a good hour, then hit up the gift shop before leaving (never met a gift shop I didn’t like).
We had a lot more fun at this place than I was expecting, I have to say, and we left with lots of little rock and fossil goodies.
After touring the Petrified Wood Gallery, we headed across the street to the Front Street… tourist trap? Not sure what to call it. It was similar to Al’s Oasis in South Dakota, in that it had a fake old-timey Western front fascade, and inside were several little spots. A steakhouse, a saloon, a gift shop, and a free museum. It may be a tourist trap but: you will always have us at “free museum”.
The free museum was actually pretty entertaining – it was like a natural history museum of This Very Specific Area, focused mainly on the Wild West days. But it was small enough that we were in and out in all of 30 minutes.
Here’s the saloon, we had to walk through it to exit. It was like a cheap dive bar meets Wild West theme park.
Anyway. Off we go again. Thanks for the good time, Ogallala!
Bingo and pickles, sign me up.
We were definitely back in the Plains by this point.
Just an aside: I gave my copy of Sally Mann’s memoir another read on this trip, because I love this book so. If you enjoy memoirs you should definitely pick it up. It’s almost not fair that someone so gifted in photography is also such a gifted storyteller. And it’s a heck of a story she has to tell about her relatives and neighbors and that beautiful, haunted area of Virginia where she grew up.
By early evening we made it to our destination for the night: Kearney, Nebraska.
You guys, I found the best little divey motel in this town. I was looking for places to stay while we were still back in Colorado and when this spot kept popping up in searches, I had to book it. All the reviews said the hotel was old and a little odd but clean as could be, service was great, and there was an solid diner attached to the end of the building. HELLO, THIS IS MY DREAM MOTEL SIGN US UP.
It did not disappoint, either. There was no ice machine here! Instead this chest freezer, filled with wee motel-room-sized bags of ice.
And our room, ladies and gentlemen. Straight out of 1987, and yet still clean and liveable.
There was one of those elderly-person lift chairs in our room, for some reason. Moose thought it was the best thing he had ever encountered and used the remote to raise/lower it pretty much our entire stay.
Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the glory of our vintage motel room and went off to find some dinner. Scottie and I had read about a local brewpub and folks, we are always game for a brewpub.
And away we went, to downtown Kearney, Nebraska. It was a real trip.
We ended up at Thunderhead Brewing. Known for their pizza! So obviously, we didn’t order pizza. Because we’re not the brightest.
Beers were decent! The kids got kids meals and us adults got the nachos to share, and sadly they weren’t the best nachos of this trip. To be honest, they were the worst of the trip. But, hey, at least the chips were crispy and the cheese was melty. Even mediocre nachos are good nachos in my book.
After dinner we went back to our glorious motel, and Moose requested some Pool Time. Pete and Scott were not in the mood so it was just a Moose and mom date.
Lots of splashing, but never really got in there. Whatever, it was still nice.
Then he was ready to get back to his old-person recliner so we went back to the room. BUT THEN. Then Peter was all about the swim time, so I went back out to the pool just with a different kid.
And finally I was able to drag in Pete, we all showered and stuff, and tucked away to sleep the end.
(I mean except I did totally walk down to the end to get a shot of the diner, the end.)
Nighty night, friends – we’re nearing the end! Another post coming soon.
Day Nine Stats:
Lunch: car food car food car food! Fluffernutters, chips, carrots, Twinkies. So well rounded.
Museum Count: 1 (Ogallala Front Street Museum)
Roadside Attractions Count: 1 (Petrified Wood Gallery)
Peter’s Penny Count: 0 😦
Moose’s Dab Count: 0! I am slacking.
Dwellings: |Midtown Western Inn | old but clean, nice staff, outdoor pool, no free breakfast but a great diner.
Motel Dinner Madness: We ate at the brewpub so no motel dinners for us this night…