We have traveled quite a bit, within the United States and outside its boundaries. We’ve been fortunate enough to see parts of Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, and Italy; and we’ve visited states from California to Maine, Washington to Florida. Until this summer, however, we had never gone north on I-35 beyond Salina, Kansas!
In an effort to remedy that, we struck out a few weeks ago in our trusty Ford Fusion to Nebraska. With the goal of visiting my brother in Valentine, NE, we mapped several routes but decided on the easiest – north to York, west to North Platte, and north to Valentine. As we left the overwhelming heat of Oklahoma, we prayed for cooler temperatures as we went, and our prayers were answered!
The further north we went, the less the fields suffered from “sunburn” and drought. By the time we turned west at York, the cornfields had become lush and green. While we may sing about “corn as high as an elephant’s eye” in our state song, the corn in Nebraska truly was more deserving of that phrase.As we turned at North Platte, we began to encounter the sandhills that my brother had often talked about. While somewhat like the rolling pasture lands I grew up with in Osage County, the sandhills are a bit different – not quite as rounded, a little sharper. Knowing that the soil was totally sand in that area, it was interesting to see the green grasses, waving in the breeze.
Now Valentine, Nebraska would probably not be a typical destination for vacationers, but it truly was an interesting little town and does draw tourists for the hunting and fishing in the area. We stayed at a local motel, the Trade Winds , which was sold out, primarily due to the motorcyclists on their way to the 71st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. During our week in northern Nebraska and a day trip into South Dakota, we saw literally tens of thousands of motorcycles!
With a population of just over 2800, a hospital, churches, and a charming downtown area, Valentine is inviting for those who enjoy hunting and fishing. It is obvious that is its major draw, when the motels offer “fish and fowl cleaning areas” as an amenity! To cater to the locals and visitors, there are several exceptional restaurants, including Cedar Canyon Steakhouse, Jordan’s Fine Dining, and our favorite, The Peppermill .We took a short drive to Merritt Reservoir, where the walleye lurk, just waiting for the fishermen to lure them with leeches. I like to fish, but I declined this time. Somehow or other, I just couldn’t imagine baiting my own hook with a leech. Fishing for walleye requires the right technique, and I felt that finding it on my plate, already caught, cleaned and grilled, was a much better plan!