Sandhill Cranes and Colorado Traveling Ducks Visit Kearney, Nebraska

600,000 Sandhill Cranes migrate through Kearney, Nebraska every year.   600,000?!?   We had to see this.

We are in Nebraska

We are in Nebraska

So, we drove to Nebraska Saturday and this is what we learned.   The majority of the Sandhill Cranes are there the third weekend of March, so many had already left when we arrived.   And the man at Fort Kearney said almost all the cranes will be gone by this weekend.   If we go again, it will be in mid March.       The cranes migrate to Kearney to eat.   They normally weigh 8-12 pounds.   The Sandhill cranes try to gain at least 1 1/2 pounds in Kearney.    So we saw groups of cranes in last years corn fields.

Groups of Sandhill Cranes eating in corn fields

Groups of Sandhill Cranes eating in corn fields

The cranes stay along the Platte River between Kearney and Grand Island and feast in the corn fields a few miles north and south of the river.   They are afraid, or at least wary of humans, so they stay in the middle of the fields, making photos difficult.   This is a small group, showing the pink on the heads.

Sandhill cranes watching us

Sandhill cranes watching us

The man at Fort Kearney said the cranes are hunted in parts of south Texas and northern Mexico.   There is a hunting season to control the population.   If they over populate, they will starve either here or in the arctic where they spend the summer.   While a  group is eating in the corn fields, there are a few looking for any threat.

Some cranes eat and some cranes watch for threats

Some cranes eat and some cranes watch for threats

Our stopped car could be considered a threat to them.   We were told to take photos from the car, not to get out of the car as that scares them.    These cranes are about 3 feet tall, but look smaller due to the distance.   We just thought they were so cute, with the pink on their heads.

Aren't they cute?

Aren’t they cute?

They spend the day eating in corn fields and as the sun gets lower, they head to the Platte River where they spend the night in 2-4 inches of water.   These cranes were flying either to another field or to the river.   They make a much softer noise than geese and are a delight to hear as they fly over.

Cranes flying to river

Cranes flying to river

The Sandhill cranes come through here in March every year.   This is one of the few places with so many of them at one time.   This is their general migration path for the trip north.

Sandhill Crane migration path

Sandhill Crane migration path

They mate and spend the summer in Alaska and Siberia.   Since we were in the farm land of Nebraska, we saw much farm equipment, but this tall vehicle driving on the road fascinated us.

Tall piece of farm equipment

Tall piece of farm equipment

In the spring many young animals are born, so here are cows with small calves.

Small calves with mom in field

Small calves with moms in a field

In Lexington, Nebraska, we stopped at Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles.   Unfortunately it was closed.

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, Nebraska

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, Nebraska

Over the fence we saw this tank.

Military tank

Military tank

This vehicle also caught our attention.

Military vehicle

Military vehicle

At the westbound rest area at mile 270, we were intrigued by this sculpture.

Sculpture at westbound rest area mile post 270

Sculpture at westbound rest area mile post 270

Our last stop was North Platte.   There were several things we wanted to see, but the booklet said everything we wanted either closed at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, or was still closed for the winter.   However the Veteran Memorial was always open.   So we went, and guess what?   It was closed for required repairs.

Veterans Memorial in North Platte, Nebraska

Veterans Memorial in North Platte, Nebraska

But, we could still see some sculptures.   We like driving across Nebraska.   They have many attractions and most are clearly marked.   Even if they are closed, as most were today, you can still see some of the things.   We drive through Nebraska frequently, so we will stop again.   If you drive across Nebraska, stop often to see things.   There are so many things relating to the pioneer days, you never need to be bored or wonder what you should see.   We always find something interesting driving through Nebraska and we think you will too.

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Boys Town in Omaha with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Near Omaha, Nebraska we entered Boy’s Town.

Welcome to Boy's Town

Welcome to Boy’s Town

Of course, our first stop was the Visitor’s Center.

Visitor's Center for information

Visitor’s Center for information

After talking with the helpful lady at the desk and doing our souvenir shopping, we wandered to the back of the store.   Wow!   This is the largest ball of stamps in the world.

World's largest ball of stamps!

World’s largest ball of stamps!

This is a solid ball of postage stamps, built one stamp at a time.   Most of this ball of stamps was completed years ago when collecting postage stamps was a more popular hobby.   Many of the boys and girls at Boy’s Town were stamp collectors.   They have a penny slot and a box of postage stamps.   Humans can look through the box of stamps and purchase whichever they want.   And each stamp costs one penny.   Put your penny in the slot and take a stamp.   This ball of stamps has a diameter of 32 inches and weighs 600 pounds.   There are 4,655,000 postage stamps that make up this solid ball of stamps.  Now we see the Hall of History.

Museum inside

Museum inside

The Boy’s Town Museum is in this building.   The statue of two brothers is a famous Boy’s Town Landmark.

Brothers statue

Brothers statue

The slogan, He’s not heavy, he’s my brother encourages caring for each other.  Nearby is the Garden of the Bible.

Restful garden

Restful garden

This is  very restful place.

Looks so peaceful

Looks so peaceful

Boy’s Town teaches Christianity and the Ten Commandments and The Beatitudes are carved in stone and displayed here.   The Dowd Memorial Chapel is a special place at Boy’s Town.

Dowd Memorial Chapel

Dowd Memorial Chapel

The inside of the Chapel is beautiful.

Inside Dowd Memorial Chapel

Inside Dowd Memorial Chapel

The special part, the round part to the left, holds the tomb of Rev Monsignor Edward J. Flanagan.

Tomb of Father Flanagan

Tomb of Father Flanagan

Father Flanagan was the founder of Boy’s Town.   His mission, simply stated, was to care for the boys and girls that needed to be cared for.   The children who were abandoned, unable to care for themselves, or just needed someone to care.   The monument, with the US flag honors those from Boy’s Town that gave their lives serving the United States.

Monument to Boys Town Military Heroes

Monument to Boys Town Military Heroes

Boy’s Town is a wonderful place and after visiting here, we know mom will be sending bigger checks to help them even more.   We hope you can visit here and see the amazing things that happen at Boy’s Town.

Zeb and Soapy Love The Archway

Driving through Nebraska, we stopped at The Archway, 3 miles east of Kearney.   The Archway, previously known as the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, (sure glad they shortened that name), is an arch, or bridge, over I-80.

The Archway over I-80 in Nebraska

The Archway over I-80 in Nebraska

This is a museum featuring the westward expansion of the United States and the American people’s fascination with the car and road travel.   Before entering The Archway, we admired this buffalo, a symbol of the American West.

Large buffalo

Large buffalo

Here is a statue of the Martin Brothers.

The Martin Brothers

The Martin Brothers

This sign explains their unusual circumstances.

About the Martin Brothers

About the Martin Brothers being pinned together

We enter The Archway, purchase tickets, receive our included audio program, and ride the long escalator and we are among covered wagons heading west.

Covered wagons were hard work

Covered wagons were hard work

Soon the buffalo herds begin stampeding toward us.

A buffalo stampede

A buffalo stampede

Along the westward trail, we stop to visit some of the Forty-Niners, hoping to find gold in California.

Hoping to get rich in California

Hoping to get rich in California

Many wagons did not complete the trip west.

Disaster struck many wagons

Disaster struck many wagons

The Mormons were a little more organized.

Mormons traveled from Illinois to Utah

Mormons traveled from Illinois to Utah

Now we see a Pony Express rider.

Pony Express Rider

Pony Express Rider

He delivered news of the Civil War from the east coast to San Francisco in only 10 days.   The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and the driving of the Golden Spike in Utah are also celebrated in The Archway.   The popularity of the personal automobile and the completion of the Lincoln Highway is shown.

The Lincoln Highway changes America

The Lincoln Highway changes America

The Lincoln Highway, or US 30 allowed Americans to drive from New York City to San Francisco.   The road trip was instantly popular.

Ready for the American Road Trip

Ready for the American Road Trip

It still is popular.   We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, are taking a road trip now.   The drive in movie was a great hit.

The drive -in movie was an instant success

The drive -in movie was an instant success

Another result of the American drivers was the Roadside Cafe.

Roadside Cafe is born

Roadside Cafe is born

We could not imagine a road trip without food available, and so many choices.   The Archway is a great place to stop.   We really think you would enjoy visiting this museum.   And enjoy driving across America.

Paxton and Gothenburg, Nebraska with Zeb and Soapy

I, Zeb the Duck, and Soapy Smith Duck are taking a road trip.   We love road trips!  We never know exactly where we will go.   This time we drive to Nebraska.

We are in Nebraska

We are in Nebraska

As we expected, there are farms and rolls of hay here.

Farms are pretty

Farms are pretty

We think this farmland looks pretty and peaceful.   We entered Nebraska from Colorado on I-76.   That road is now I-80.   We leave the highway at Exit 145, and drive across the South Platte River

South Platte River

South Platte River

and into the town of Paxton.

This is Paxton

This is Paxton

In the middle of the afternoon during the week, there are not many people there.   Mom says we are going to eat a little now.   We stop at Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse.

Ole's in Paxton, Nebraska

Ole’s in Paxton, Nebraska

This is not like our usual lunch stop.  First we look at the side of the building.

We like murals

We like murals

We like buildings with murals painted on the side.   As soon as we enter, Soapy and I know this is a different decor.

A rustic appearance

A rustic appearance

We like the wagon wheel suspended from the ceiling.   And look at our lunch companions.   These guys are looking right at our booth.

Dining companions

Dining companions

OK Mom. . .What is the story behind this restaurant?   From the front of the building we know the bar opened in 1933.   The menu tells the rest of the story.   Prohibition ended in 1933 and Rosser O. Herstedt or Ole as he was known, opened a bar on Paxton’s main street.   The bar soon became the main gathering place and hunting the main topic of conversation.   In 1938 Ole had a trophy deer mounted and displayed in the bar.   That was the beginning…  Over a period of 35 years Ole hunted on all continents and brought trophies from every trip to display in the bar.

Not many of these in restaurants

Not many of these in restaurants

Soon Ole’s bar was home to one of the most extensive private collections of mounted big game animals in the world.

A different collection

A different collection

Ole made his last hunting trip in 1973, but the legend lives on.   In 1988 the bar, or lounge, was purchased by another native of Paxton, Tim Holzfaster.   The lounge and the adjoining restaurant are now combined as Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse.   The food is very good and diners view over 200 mounted trophies.   This moose watched us eat.

He is big

He is big

There is more to Ole’s than great food and hunting trophies.  You can shoot pool while admiring photos of local school teams.   Ole’s is in a small Nebraska town and the entire town is important.   The school teams are recognized and supported here.   There are also video games for your enjoyment.   You will enjoy a unique dining experience here.   Visit http://www.olesbiggame.com  for more information.   Our next stop was Gothenburg, Nebraska.   This is an original Pony Express Station.

Original Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska

Original Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska

We are looking in the window.  This is the original building, but it has been moved a short distance to this location.   Gothenburg also has a Sod House Museum.

Sod House Museum, Gothenburg, Nebraska

Sod House Museum, Gothenburg, Nebraska

This giant plow is dedicated to sod house settlers.

To Sod House Settlers

To Sod House Settlers

We really liked these buffalo sculptures in the field.

Where the buffalo roamed

Where the buffalo roamed

Nebraska was part of most of the trails to the west.   The Oregon Trail passed through Nebraska, as did Lewis and Clarke.   The gold rush to California used Nebraska as part of the route, as did the Mormon Trail to Salt Lake City, Utah.   And, of course, the Pony Express delivered mail to Nebraska.   Nebraska has many interesting museums and monuments to honor the courageous pioneers.