Snortin' "66" Norton

Snortin' "66" Norton
"Humpin' to Please!"

Monday, May 14

Day 10: What do you mean, "Did we bring lanterns and sleeping bags!?!"

Tonight, dear readers, we come to you live from an authentic Native American earthen lodge at the Dancing Leaf Lodge, somewhere south of Wellfleet, Nebraska. No fooling, I am sitting in the dark (except for the light of four candles in our campfire pit) upon my bed on the dirt floor. My bed consists of five deerskins piled up on the floor with a sleeping bag on top of them and a blanket for me to sleep under. I feel a bit silly in my pj’s. Kim has opted to sleep on the earthen benches which line the circumference of our lodge. She has also piled up deerskins and a sleeping bag. We do have pillows, so we’ll let you know tomorrow how these beds compare to those at Hampton!

To get into our lodge, we must lean over substantially to enter through the maybe 25 foot long tunnel entryway. Kim seemed to forget the lean over part when she went to put our flaps down at the outside entrance to our tunnel. Ouch! Once inside, we can stand up completely and there’s really room for about 12 people to sleep in here – too bad you aren’t with us! There is a hole in the ceiling above the campfire circle and deerskins line all the benches and around the fire circle. We can hear the crickets chirping, the cows mooing, and the coyotes howling outside, and we can see the lightning through our ‘skylight’. We are enjoying a nice cold beer (we have learned to keep several on ice in our cooler in the car – you never know when you might need one, and we’ve learned that lots of states are really funny about selling beer on Sundays) and it’s a good thing I passed typing at Draughn’s Business College back in the day, because I cannot see the keyboard.

We have had an eventful day today. We slept in until about 9 this morning, did our laundry, and tried to catch up (ha!) on our blogs while we had internet connections. At noon, we had to check out of our Holiday Inn Express (no Hampton in Garden City, Kansas) and then we drove around town for 30 minutes trying to find a local place to eat lunch. Our biggest worry was that we’d have a long wait, what with it being Mother’s Day and just after church time, but that was not the problem. The big deal was that NOTHING was open except for chains and a highly unpalatable (we walked out while they were cleaning off a table for us) hotel (not ours) dining room that was serving a ‘special’ Mother’s Day buffet. I would hate to see normal if that was special! Kim suggested that the President needs to enact a physical fitness law and I think even just making it a law that everyone has to have a full-length mirror at home (and use it) would help. We might note here that if any of you reading are dentists or know a dentist who is looking for a change, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas could use your services. One fellow along Route 66 told us he knew we “weren’t from around here” because we had all of our teeth. FYI, we ended up having a fine Mother's Day luncheon at the local Long John Silver’s. AAARRRRGGGHHH!

Anyway, we finally got out of town about 1:15, heading north on US 83, aka the Road to Nowhere. According to our current guidebook, Road Trip USA, by Jamie Jensen, this road goes completely across the US from Canada to Mexico without once crossing paths with a conventional tourist attraction. Since we are unconventional anyway, we thought it was the perfect road for us. From Garden City we traveled to Scott City, in Scott County, where we visited Lake Scott and Lake Scott State Park. We did not meet Mr. Scott or anybody who even knew who he was. It was VERY windy in Kansas today, but hot, too. It got into the high 80’s/low 90’s most places where we were, but it still looked a little chilly for a swim because of the whitecaps on the LAKE. But Kansans are hardy, cornfed stock. They were swimming, boating, and fishing anyway. Lake Scott was a bit larger that the municipal pool in Garden City, which is the largest one in the US, holding 2.5 million gallons of water. We saw it yesterday, too. While at Lake Scott SP, we saw the ruins of an Indian pueblo which is the farthest north of any that have been discovered so far. We also hiked a bit on a short nature trail, and then we went in search of Monument Rocks.

We were advised to stop in at the Keystone Gallery, “conveniently located in the middle of nowhere” to get directions to these rocks, so we did and were pleasantly surprised to find an open sign on the door. We were greeted by a very large and friendly (thankfully, since she practically got in the car with me when I opened my door) dog. Note to any of you who have plans to travel in Kansas: first, why? And second, do not, under any circumstances, open both of your car doors at the same time. I had to chase our maps and itinerary papers all across the hotel parking lot this morning when I made that mistake and we did not make it again! I am sure it was a vision.

We went inside the Keystone Gallery to find no one there, so we just looked around a bit and then a windblown woman came in and greeted us. Barbara Shelton couldn’t have been nicer and she chatted with us as we looked around. She had been out fossil hunting in her 1949 Suburban and in the gallery were some HUGE plaster casts of dinosaur fossils she and her husband have found nearby. Her husband is an artist and there were lots of neat things to tempt us. Since it was Mother’s Day (I should note here that before we left the hotel, all of our kids had already called to wish us a happy day and thank us for not making them come with us) we picked up a few trinkets as reminders of our Roadside Giant Tour. We did remember to get directions to the rocks, too, and we wished we had room to take Shiloh (the dog) with us, 'cause she really wanted to go and we loved her.

After driving several miles down gravel and dirt roads (just like Rt. 66!) and passing the Pyramid View Cemetery (where we actually met an oncoming car!) we found the rock formations carved by water and weather out of the chalk that used to be ocean floor millions of years ago. We wondered why they have not been completely eroded, as the sandy chalk is very soft, the wind is very windy, and when it rains you can see where the rivers of water go by. We made it back to the paved highway and realized we’d left Garden City four hours ago and we had only gone 96 miles. We had another 100 miles or more to go and we were expected for a dinner of buffalo stew at the Dancing Leaf Lodge! Time to put the pedal to the metal, which is not a problem, being that the road is straight, paved, and virtually untraveled (on Sundays, anyway). We have seen several cars pulled over on this trip, but it would be pretty hard to have a speed trap on this road, as you can see for miles here. We took a bit of time to drive through the small town of Oberlin, Kansas, just south of the Nebraska border. We opted not to visit Prairie Dog Town in Oakley this year, since we were just there last year. Good thing, since it was not open anyway! Oberlin had brick streets in its ‘business district’ but the sidewalks were rolled up today. We attempted, quite unsuccessfully, to order from the A&W drive thru window there. When we finally figured out how to get to the ordering place (it was not your typical set up!) we got to the speaker only to discover it didn’t work and we were just to pull up to the window and order. At least we provided some entertainment for the people watching us.

In McCook, NE, we detoured up Norris Street to see the High Plains Museum (not open, but next to a very neat old Carnagie Library with a BIG buffalo statue (Peppy finally got out of his box for a photo op) and across the street from some cool buildings. Up the road was the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed home in Nebraska (somebody lives there) and there was a museum (closed) for George Norris of TVA fame. They also had brick streets and we would have spent more time there had it not been Sunday evening and if we were not expected somewhere else.

We got to the Dancing Leaf Lodge about 8 and were met in the drive by Les and Jan Hosick, owners, innkeepers, and a fascinating couple who are from this area and love learning and teaching about Native Americans who lived in these parts. Picture this: Les is leading us to our lodge (we thought we were staying in a fully appointed cabin) and I am wearing pink flip flops which show my prettily pedicured and painted toenails and dragging my turquoise blue rolling suitcase along the dirt path. Kim is behind me, intelligently carrying a small overnight bag and wearing sensible sneaks. Les must have thought he had a real high maintenance blonde who would be asking where she could plug in her hair dryer. Oh, but wait, he’d already seem my hair, which was just a bit windblown. We decided that it was a good thing that we were not in a little red convertible, as we would be leaning to the right with our hair standing on end and leaning to the right, too. Unless we wore our head scarves, which of course we do not own.

As we began to enter the lodge, I was contemplating whether or not to leave my cute bag outside, since I thought Les was just showing us the lodge and that we would be continuing on to our cabin, but it soon became clear that this was to be our home for the night. Kim and I were unable to even glance at each other and it is a good thing that we had used the facilities at the main house or we would have needed to do laundry again. You have got to go to to see where we are!! Once we dropped our stuff off and got instructions about how to stack our deerskins and light our candles and close our door flaps, we were escorted back to the main building for dinner. Even dinner was completely authentic: buffalo stew with corn (almost like hominy), beans, sunflower seeds, sage, and onions, blue corn muffins with local honey, and fruits and veggies that Indians here would have had – cukes, peppers, carrots, watermelon, and grapes. It was delicious! We had fun talking to Les and Jan and telling them about our adventures so far. When they realized we were expecting to sleep in the cabin, they offered to show it to us and let us stay there. We checked it out – very nice with a living area, a kitchen, a real bathroom, and a bedroom – and we still decided to experience the lodge. It was meant to be, so here we are! At this moment (midnight) Peppy is wearing an Indian headdress (Kim has too much time on her hands) and is standing watch by our fire circle. If you never read this blog, the coyotes got us. Sweet dreams!

Jan (the blonde one)


Girl Reporter said...

Kim does indeed have too much time on her hands. Peppy should have had a pirate hat for the Mother's Day brunch.

Kim said...

Mom, you rolled that suitcase through an Native American Lodge? I'm embarrassed.

Bruce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce said...

I grew up in Oberlin, Kansas, but the A&W was built after I left. The drive through setup is indeed strange, and I've had an experience almost identical to yours when I've been back to visit.