Nebraska is one of the very few states that I have never been in. I never visited it for work, and we haven’t even driven through it. I was excited about visiting it, even though every time someone mentioned Nebraska the most common comment was a dismissive “corn,” Well let me say I loved the state. It has rolling hills, lots of farms, and yes there is corn, but there are cattle and other crops as well. As a Midwesterner I love these “bread basket” states and I find the scenery soothing.
So what does it take for us to earn our state sticker?? We have higher standards than lots of folks we know, but for us it’s consistently been we need to stay one night and see at least one state specific thing. State specific is where I get into trouble, because many things are in multiple states. It’s a bit of a judgement call for sure and I’ll talk about that as we go along. I will say it doesn’t have to be anything grandiose, it just has to be unique to the state.
We got up early in the morning but I had another phone interview so we got a bit of a late start. This interview was with a different company and it also went really well. They told me it takes between 30-35 days to on board a person in the position I was applying for, and it was good to get a rough time frame for reference. Lee’s been very patient with these interviews, especially since he likes to get an early start, but by keeping it to 300 mile days we are still getting into our campgrounds at a decent time.
As we were traveling I was checking Roadside America, but there wasn’t much worth stopping for. Then we saw a sign that stated there was an historic Pony Express post. It wasn’t in Roadside America so we didn’t have any information about it, but Lee decided to follow the signs and give it a try. I really appreciate his willingness to explore while we have the rig attached, as this is not something we would have been comfortable doing even a couple of years ago. Turns out this stop was fantastic. The cabin was surrounded by a gorgeous park and Jack absolutely loved rolling in the lush, green grass. Because dogs weren’t allowed inside the building we took turns, and Jack got twice the fun playing outside. It was a small cabin, but really great, and we were both fascinated by the stop and the history.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about the Pony Express, but I learned that it really was only in existence for 1-1/2 years. The telegraph replaced the riders and the company went bankrupt. That amazed me since the mythology looms so large. The following sign sums up the story.
(In addition to being a fun and cool little stop, the entire town is very nice, and the streets are wide. There’s plenty of room all the way around the park to park your rig. – Lee)
The inside was basically half gift shop and a small exhibit area, but it was very cool. We have been really good about not spending too much money as we travel, but we both went a little crazy here. I got a shirt and Lee bought a super cool tote bag and a book. It was just that kind of place and we were happy to support it. (I do not think that amounts to “going crazy”. – Lee)
We all really enjoyed the stop, especially because it was unexpected, and we continued on down the highway. I wasn’t sure that it really qualified as a Nebraska specific thing though and was fretting a little when out of the corner of my eye I saw a fast food restaurant called Runza. This caught my attention because in our travels I had never even heard of Runza, but it was clearly a chain. Thank heavens for the internet, because after a quick search I discovered it was a Nebraska-centric restaurant known for their Runza sandwiches. I asked Lee if he was up for trying one and he said sure so I found a location off the highway with a big parking lot.
Once we got inside we learned more about the history which is a terrific story. After WWII, there weren’t many jobs and Sally started a food cart selling sandwiches made from a family recipe. Ground meat, onions, and cabbage in homemade buns were super popular and a big hit. Over time she and her family expanded and now they are all over Nebraska and even have a couple in Kansas.
There were some really unique things about the menu. First they had mini shakes for $1, which were delicious and the perfect size. Next if you can’t decide between onion rings or fries you can order a combination for the same price called frings. Loved that!! Finally Lee got the sandwich and said it was delicious!! It was like shepherds pie in a bun and he was a big fan!!
This was definitely a Nebraska specific moment and once we spent the night the thing that earned us our state sticker. It may seem silly, but I can look at every sticker we have earned and tell you the memory that is associated with it. Anyways, we spent the night in North Platte at the I-80 campground. With a Good Sam discount the campground cost $32, and even though it was along the highway it was pretty nice. The sites were long and has decent separation and the lake itself was pretty. My only complaint was the dog park was really small, so Jack wasn’t interested in using it.
Next up we head towards Kansas and get off the highway a bit.
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