To the pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail in the 19th century, Chimney Rock was a very welcome sight and a cause for celebration because it marked a transition point in the long, difficult journey to a better life in the Oregon Territory. Chimney Rock is located just about 1/3 of the way between the trail's starting and ending points, so the travelers knew when they saw it that a third of their journey was now behind them. It also marks the start of a change of landscape on the trail - they would soon be leaving the open plains and moving into the more rugged lands leading into the Rocky Mountains. It's also highly visible; its distinctive shape can be seen from many miles away to the east. Imagine their feeling, after traveling across seemingly endless prairies for weeks and weeks, of seeing this famous milepost and realizing how far they've already come on their journey.
After my travels this year, I think the meadowlark is becoming one of my favorite birds. They're a pretty common sight in the plains, especially as you travel down smaller country roads, where I often see them perched on fenceposts.
So. Picture Stonehenge. You know what stonehenge looks like, right? That ancient thing in England? Big stone slabs arranged in kind of a circular pattern aligned to the path of the sun? So picture that in your mind. Got it? Ok, good. Now replace all the stone slabs with cars. Yes, cars. You heard me. Weird image, right?
Well, what if I told you that image was real? Yes, my children, someone really did recreate Stonehenge in western Nebraska. With cars. Instead of stones.
And it's called Carhenge.
I must be hungry this week.
Here's a little trivia for your Friday:
In what city can you find this statue of Chef Boyardee?
Click "Read More" to find out!
Surprisingly enough, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo is home to a number of record-holding exhibits, including the world's largest indoor desert, the world's largest nocturnal exhibit, the world's largest indoor swamp, the world's second-largest free-flight aviary, and America's largest indoor rainforest. Whew!
All of that comes together to make what is, in my opinion, one of the very best zoos in the country. Certainly one of the more unique zoos you could visit.
The zoo is far too big for me to talk about every animal (as much as I might like to), so I'll just highlight the zoo's eight best areas and exhibits. Conveniently arranged for those of you with short attention spans with my favorites first!
Yes, dear readers, I have blogged about this before. And normally my policy is not to blog about the same thing twice, because that's redundant. Totally redundant. But I felt I had to make an exception here, because my second visit to the Platte River to see the sandhill crane migration was so much different than my first visit. Better than my first visit. And I'll tell you why!
This isn't a place I was planning to stop at, or a sight I was planning to see. It was one of those completely magical travel moments that just kind of sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise.
Here's what happened:
So, being the middle of March, we obviously just had a big holiday last weekend. What did you say? Saint Who's Day?
No, no, no, not that holiday! I mean, who celebrates St. Patrick's Day anyway? I'm talking about National Quilting Day of course! And what better place to celebrate National Quilting Day than at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.
In addition to their regular exhibits, the Museum also had an assortment of speakers and demonstrations in honor of the day, so you could learn all sorts of things about quilts.
Even though I'm not a quilter myself, I still had a great time at the Museum seeing all the beautiful things that can be made with quilting techniques.
Many of my favorite travel memories involve wildlife. A beautiful cathedral is going to look pretty much the same when you visit it in 2013 as it did when you visited it in 2003, or even when your grandparents visited it in 1953. Animals, however, being active living things, can show you something different every time you see them, which is what makes seeing them so special. And that is why the Platte River in Nebraska is a place I'd like to come back and visit many more times in my life.
The Platte River is a lot like a crane 7-Eleven.
National Geographic has called the sandhill crane migration one of the greatest wildlife phenomena in North America, and I couldn't agree more. Every spring, after spending the winter in warmer areas like Texas and New Mexico, sandhill cranes undertake a long migration north to Canada, where they will breed and raise their chicks. This is a long, exhausting journey to do all at once, so along the way they find a nice rest area to stop at so they can refuel, and Nebraska's Platte River is an ideal place for them. The river contains many small islands and sandbars, which make for a nice safe place to roost for the night, and the surrounding fields are full of insects and discarded grains to eat. The cranes stop here for a few weeks to rest and fatten up for the remainder of their long journey north.
The greatest concentration of cranes can be found in the 50-mile stretch of river between Grand Island and Kearney, Nebraska. Hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes descend on the area each year between the beginning of March and mid April. They also pass through the area during their fall southward migration, but they don't stay nearly as long in the fall as they do in the spring, so your best bet is visiting in the spring. I visited in mid March.
Hi, I'm Alex! I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting travel experiences, and am happy to share them with you here!
Take a Tour:
In addition to being a blogger, I'm also a tour operator at Surprising Destinations! On my tours, you can visit many of the fascinating places featured in this blog. This prairie dog sure is happy he took a Surprising Destinations tour!