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August 19, 2017

Nebraska - chasing the eclipse

A bit of a detour in the last blog to a very worthwhile visit to Springfield IL and the Abraham Lincoln home.  Just do it!  In 1862 Honest Abe signed the Homestead Act giving away the prairie to any ‘freeman’ who could build a home and farm it, 160 acres at a time.
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So why is the Homestead National Monument in the middle of Nowhere, NE?  It is the site of the first issued homestead, and it’s right smack dab in the path of the Great American Eclipse.
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The first homestead deed was issued to Daniel Freeman, who prospered on this site.  Any coincidence that any ‘Free Man’ could apply for a homestead and ‘Freeman’ is the first? ….
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There is also an exhibit on the last homesteader, Kenneth Deardorff, a 29 year old California Vietnam vet who filed a claim in Alaska.
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In 1936 congress deemed it the duty of the Secretary of the Interior to perpetuate the history of the country developed under the homestead law.
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Daniel Freeman’s cabin has been recreated on the site as it was first built.  Just a single multipurpose room and an outhouse.
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This is a NASA destination for the eclipse with many programs offered.  The local farmers are offering up ‘Eclipse Parking’ in their yards and fields. 
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Below the Jackalop this farmer is preparing his parking lot, complete with porta-poties.
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We’ve driven under the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument a few times.  A nice museum, but pretty much a tourist trap…
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The Martin Brothers were attacked by local tribes and pinned to each other by four arrows.  Altho left for dead they both survived.
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On the opposite side of the Platte River are hiking and biking trails, something that suited our drive time better.
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Our last stop in Nebraska was at Scotts Bluff, a noted landmark on the Oregon and Mormom Trails.  This and other geological structures in the area of soft clay survive with their protective limestone caps.
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The RV will not fit thru the tunnels on the road to the top of the bluff, but there is a FREE shuttle to the top.  We opted to ride the shuttle up and follow the trail back down.
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A view of the limestone cap and a CACTUS!  Oh I miss the desert southwest ….
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A few views from the top some 800’ above the valley floor.
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The trail back down is via the Saddle Rock Trail, 1.6 mi back to the VC.
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William Henry Jackson is noted for his early photographs of the area, but is also a painter of renound.  The VC has a collection of his 50 original paintings. 
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The outside exhibits include several wagons and a Mormon push/pull cart.
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As it turns out following the Eclipse Trail is the same as following the Oregon Trail thru Nebraska and most of Wyoming.

A blast thru WY and we’ll be meeting with son Michael and grandson Jm along with kid-brother Marty in Idaho!
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