Tuesday, June 3, 2014

5-23 to 6-1-2014 Atchison Lake Kansas, to Decatur, Nebraska

We decided to spend Memorial weekend at a Kansas state fishing lake, in Atchison Kansas. Kansas fishing lakes are wonderful places, usually set in beautiful country, and usually deserted. But not this one-the setting was beautiful, but the lake and the people camping there were not. As we don't have much good to say about the place, we won't say much. It was a really scummy lake, covered with algae and full of water snakes-we paddled on it the last day we were there, and you could see their heads sticking up everywhere. We also saw two large black snakes, one swimming right towards the shore where we were camped, but couldn't tell if they were rat snakes or cottonmouths. The place was full to the gills with people, mainly 25 to 35 year olds, with families, fishing, all while bellowing at their kids, wives and each other, & dropping the F-bomb every third word-some of the crudest people we've ever experienced in 30 years of campgrounds. Initially, we were stuck right in the middle of them, but Sunday got to move across the lake into quieter surroundings. Soooo glad to see it in the “rear view”. We got there Friday, and couldn't leave 'till Tuesday, as we had to pick up mail in Hiawatha.

The second site

Some local critters


Taken on a ride around the block-some incredible stone buildings in the Kansas toolies!

As you can see on the map, it was a crazy drive that day, chasing mail and hitting detours, so we decided to go to Omaha non-stop, staying in a town park in Bellevue, just south of there. Great spot to work out of, with the Omaha zoo and “Johnny's Cafe” right up the road. It too is on the river, and we ended up in one of the few sites that had shade, under some huge cottonwoods. The park, Haworth Park, had about 100 sites-it's big-and was once all shaded with them, but a flood in 2011, put it under 10' of water for 5 months, and most of the big trees were destroyed. They spent $600,000 to rebuild it, and are still working on it.

The Omaha zoo has always been a stop for us if we're traveling through Nebraska, first going there about 29 years ago, when Kirky read an article about a rainforest exhibit they had created. I call it an exhibit, but it's really an entire building devoted to 3 rainforest types-African, Asian, and Amazon. You walk through the different jungles, at different levels (even underwater, with windows looking in at the marine life swimming around). Animals that are not threatening are loose, or just behind a fence or a moat, others are behind screens you can barely make out, to look as though they are loose. It's an amazing place to take in!

They went on the create a desert building a few years later that is equally amazing, and most recently built an aquarium building, that you walk underwater through a glass tunnel, with sea creatures swimming all around you. We spent an entire day there, mainly in those three buildings, but did manage a quick hike around to the outdoor exhibits as well-the rhino's were really interesting, and we got some good video there.

A great video of walking through the tunnel is on the link below:
(Right click and select "open link in new tab" if you don't want to leave the site)


Two videos of very endangered Rhinos can be seen here:



Johnny's Cafe is a 90 year old steakhouse in Omaha, straight out of the 50's, and is great fun. This was our second time there, and we'll be back, if we come this way again!

We left Omaha on the 30th (Friday) and got as far as Blair NE, spending the night at a tiny town park. next to a pair of VERY busy railroad tracks, maybe 75' away. There must of been a crossing just past the CG, as they laid into the whistle hard and long, every time they passed the place (which was about every 20 minutes!)-levitates you right off the sheets in the middle of the night! To make matters even worse, the trains were really long, probably a quarter to a half mile each, and the tracks were up on an embankment @ 30' above us, along the length of the CG-if one derailed, the CG would be obliterated! Got a few projects done there, and moved on the next morning, before we ended up underneath a train.

That day (Sunday) we drove out to a remote, tiny recreation area called Pelican Point, about 8 miles off the highway northeast of Tekamah NE, half of the drive on gravel. It got it's name from The Corps, as about 3 miles down stream from here, they encountered the river covered solid in white feathers, and couldn't for the life of them, figure out what was going on! They rounded a bend and came upon a sandbar with thousands of white pelicans in molt. We had seen them up to about mid-Mississippi, but didn't know they get this far north.

It is, of course, on the Missouri, and we were the only ones there camping, but a number of boaters came & went throughout the afternoon. By days end, everyone had left. It was a very peaceful night!

Chef No Tell and his outdoor kitchen

View up the Missouri

Taking the girls on a long walk off a short pier

On the way there, we stopped to check out Fort Atkinson, a state park near the town Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. It was the only spot on the entire route that L & C suggested would make a good site for a fort, so one was built some years later. It was pretty amazing-the state & the town (Fort Calhoun) spent 22 years recreating the fort, which is huge in size. The park has grassy walkways, that you follow around to different buildings and a set of life sized bronzes, depicting a meeting of the Corps with the Oto-Missouria Indians, including one of Captain Clark's dog, Seaman. As you can see, Gus the Brave was in full attack mode, protecting Mrs. B!

Well, post Fort Atkinson's days, I suppose...

On the way out of Tekamah the next morning, we spied this beautiful mural of the Corps of Discovery on the side of a building:

These last two pics are one on the way to where we are today (Tuesday, June3), and where we're camped, in Decatur Nebraska. That brings us up to date, and we'll work on the month long gap between Natchez Mississippi, and Atchison SFL in Kansas.

 On Rt 75 headed to Decatur-note the anvil cloud at the top right-we sure did!!!

Camped in Beck Memorial Park, Decatur NE

Across from our campsite