Thoughts, observances along road to North Platte

Memorial Day weekend is upon us and that traditionally signals the start of summer. Lately, though, it also seems to signal an annual spike in gas prices much like we’re seeing now. I noticed a news article the other day that said people are expected to travel less this holiday weekend.

Gee, ya think?

So, just in case the bank loan hasn’t cleared yet to allow you to fill the tank and head down the road, allow me to share a little trip from earlier this week.

Some work duties took me to North Platte on Tuesday. It’s not too often I need to make the trip just over two hours west on Interstate 80.

Since it’s also my hometown, I usually don’t mind the drive. As I often tell people, the view out of my windshield is always better than the view from my desk chair.

As I was pulling onto the road, I thought I’d keep a little notepad next to me and if any observation or thought struck me, I would write down a key word or two and expound on them later.

My thought was I’d end up with a column of dozens of quick thoughts. Well, either my mind or my attention span aren’t what I thought they were. I fell a little short of dozens, but still had a few.

First of all, here’s one sign of how seemingly long of a winter we are coming out of. There’s an overpass on the Interstate on which is a sign says, “Watch for wind and ice on bridge” (or words to that effect).

The “and ice” portion of the sign has been covered up with a board so that all we’re now told to watch out for is “the wind.”

I’ll take the roads department workers word on this one. They should know what they’re talking about so I no longer fear yet another freakishly cold May day to ice things up.


Speaking of wind, there was plenty of it Tuesday, and it was causing fits for those driving high-profile vehicles. Trucks were bad enough, but it was the two or three campers that were being shoved from one lane to another that made passing an adventure.

I hope they sufficiently tied down the fine china in those campers.

Driving under the archway near Kearney, I couldn’t help but wonder what they’d do with that big building if the place goes belly-up.

I really hope the financially troubled attraction survives, but I bet they’re wishing the new interchange just to the east of them was getting finished now, rather than late summer. I’ve only been there once and enjoyed it.

Hopefully, it pulls enough tourist off the road long enough to see if the new interchange really makes a difference.

One unfortunate sight for those traveling Nebraska highways lately has been the preponderance of dying “evergreen” trees. There are a few schools of thought as to what is causing it, but brown, dying trees are everywhere.

Many seen from the road are growing in the wild, so I doubt anyone will be cutting them down and slowing the spread of whatever is killing them, but the landscape will miss them.

On a better “greening” thought, the recent rains seem to be having a positive effect. Things are greener overall than what they have been. Fields and hillsides look to be coming to life. However, once you get west of Cozad or so, the effects of our drought are still obvious.

It’s around here that the hills north of the Platte Valley get the closest to the Interstate and Highway 30, and they still look pretty barren. It wouldn’t bother me if we got a few inches of rain every week for the rest of the summer.

As far as wildlife, there’s no shortage of turkeys in the state right now. One doesn’t have to look very long or hard to see wild turkeys in the fields all the way on a trip west.

So those are a few of my observations, but in the interest of space I didn’t have room to say a thing about North Platte.

Oh, well, it’s not going anywhere. But here’s hoping you can this long weekend, if you can afford it.

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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