Day #3 Des Moines, Iowa – North Platte, Nebraska: 400 Miles 644Kms
We left Des Moines a little after 9AM since we opted for a lighter driving day . It was 19ºF /-7ºc when we left Iowa. The light fog wrapping the windmills was beautifully quixotic. The fog had cleared by the time we reached Nebraska and clear skies accompanied us to North Platte.
We filled up the car & had breakfast before leaving so we stopped only for lunch. No rest stop extravaganza today, au contraire we opted to lunch at the Mormon Island State Recreation Area conveniently located off I-80. Named for the winter stopover used by Mormon emigrants heading westward we enjoyed lunching by the frozen lake and watching some locals ice fishing.
We then headed to North Platte where we had a blast visiting the Buffalo Bill residence’s outdoors grounds since the location is closed for the winter. On this Sunday afternoon North Platte was a pretty empty town and very few of its 24 000 inhabitants were visible. But the world’s largest Rail Yard sure was! After spotting the longest train we had ever seen going through town, we decided to visit the train yard and got there right on time to climb to the top of the The Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center & what an amazing view!
This location was chosen because of its close proximity to the Platte river and to Grand Island. Nebraska’s been a railroad center since the Union Pacific Railroad first reached here in July 1866 & that first train rolled through what was known at the time as “Hell on Wheels” town. Today Bailey Yard, named for former Union Pacific president Edd H. Bailey, is the world’s largest train yard. Covering a massive 2,850 acres, each day Bailey Yard manages 10,000 railroad cars. Of those, 3,000 are sorted to make sure the cargo reaches its final destination. We sure did see some action from the Golden Spike Tower. We watched a gorgeous sunset and went to find our motel for the night.
Again we were able to make our lunch, dinner, coffees & teas. Lunch was a tuna fish salad into which I mixed the last of the grains — faro, rye & oats mixture — diced daikon, carrot, celery, red pepper, dressed w/ PJ’s Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Pierre had cheddar I had goat cheese with bran crackers,nuts & a clementine. For tonight’s dinner we finished the lentils as a soup, made a salad & used the last of PJ’s dressing, Blue Iowa Maytag plus apples & walnuts for dessert. Tomorrow a longer ride: trying to get to Rock Spring Wyoming!
And now if you have travel so far with us you might want to watch a freight train passing by for almost 3 minutes — and that is not even the full train. Mesmerizing!