Yippee!! Off to tick off another item on the bucket list – The Grand Canyon.
A small introduction to the Grand Canyon
Pat & Mike had hired a minivan for our 3 trip from Port Byron (PB) to Williams in Arizona. It was a brilliant idea and we travelled very comfortably. We had to travel wet right across both Iowa and Nebraska, into Colorado going south to New Mexico and then west again to Arizona. We would make 2 overnight stops on the way, first in Kearney, Nebraska and then in Pueblo, Colorado.
When we left PB on the first morning we had heard that there may be some rain on our journey but it was fine at the start. Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska are corn producing states and are as flat as it is possible for land to be. If you have been to Botswana you will know what flat land looks like but the US land was covered in corn plants. Thus travelling on these states is not the most inspiring so we made a concerted effort to see if there was anything of interest. I have none to report here.
Not long after crossing into Nebraska it started to rain gently but gradually increased in intensity until it was coming down in torrents. We could hardly see the cars in front of us and we thanked Mike later for his excellent driving through this. We felt very sorry for a man who went past on a motor bike dressed for a hot summer’s day. So we drove and drove, read books and did puzzles until we reached our overnight destination, a lovely hotel with very friendly and organised staff. We had dinner in a restaurant across the road and an excellent breakfast in the hotel dining room. I should mention that we should have been good and forfeited dinner as we had eaten plenty of junk food during our boredom.
On the day before we had seen a giant archway spanning the highway, the I-80, about 2kms before the hotel so we started the next leg of the journey returning to this. So glad that we did as it was not only beautiful there was a lot of history to be learnt. It was built in memory of those who had followed the Great Platte River Road. The Platte River is a major river in Nebraska about 300 miles long in Nebraska itself. In total it is more than a 1000 and is a tributary of the Missouri which later flows into the Mississippi. It was a perfect marker to follow for by those who went west to Oregon, Colorado and California.
At the Archway there were a number of statues and sculptures reminiscent of the days of discovering the West. A Bison, a bridge which was a replica of one which had been over the river at that point, a maze and a statue of 2 boys on horseback. Apparently they were playing alone in the area and were set upon by a group of indigenous people and fled on horseback. They were each shot by arrows, one of which went through both of them and yet they survived. Interestingly I cannot find anything about their story on any Archway website so cannot tell you anymore. If you should find one I would most appreciate getting the full story. Gentle, relevant music was being piped through speakers in the gardens.
Vicky & Pat with the Bison
The 2 boys fleeing on horseback
On entering the Museum, one is ‘greeted by’ a loud active interplay of the Pioneers working their way across the high up above the ground floor. The noise was from the thundering hooves of horses to the creaking of wagon wheels and the laughing and screeching of children of the caravan. This area had been one of the stopping places on the route west.
Entrance to the Museum
Movie at entrance to the Museum
There were a number of displays of drawings of different aspects of the journey and of gold mining and other activities that kept the Pioneers busy on the long and arduous road. There is also an excellent gift shop from which I purchased a very nice magnet. The Archway itself is a very imposing beautiful structure along which one can walk for great panoramic views up and down the highway and across the plains. Altogether the decision to stop at The Archway was an excellent idea.
We then continued on our journey to Pueblo, Colorado and could look forward to a gorgeous change in scenery.