The drive today was a reverse version of what I did on my way out. It was far more entertaining this time though. Darren was fascinated by how many museums there are in Nebraska. That sparked conversation around a whole slew of potential museums he would like to open. A sign proclaiming an area to be the “Sandhill Crane Capital of the World” prompted extensive deliberation on how the cranes form their government, what kind of economic system they have, and what sorts of laws they might pass (maximum fish consumption per day, for example). In general, the mood was light and conversation between the siblings highly amusing.
Richard found us a well reviewed place to eat dinner and that took us off the highway for a bit. To Darren’s delight, our path went right past an “Art Museum” we’d seen advertised on the highway. It wasn’t much more than a small house looking building, but it proudly displayed its “Museum” sign on the front. Likewise, the restaurant was located down a long road that ran along the railroad tracks. It seemed unlikely there would be a restaurant out this way, but sure enough, there it was, complete with what looked like a propane tank graveyard to its side. First item on the specials list was “chicken fried chicken” so we knew we were getting the real deal. We had steaks (of course) and they were quite tender and juicy. I can tell this is a hopping place because they had plenty of seating. And Bingo!
Our campground was a stop along the highway kind of place, but it had full services and I got to do some laundry. Then, around 8, the horizon became very dark with clouds and you could see flashes of light in the distance. A quick look for a weather report served to once again, totally freak me out. For the second night in a row, we were right in the middle of a severe weather alert. I mean, I guess it’s the job of a weather alert to totally freak you out. And it worked. It warned of golf ball sized hail, lightning strikes, and “damage to vehicles” as “expected”. Great. I watched it get closer. For a long time, it stayed just to the south of us and I could watch near constant flashes lighting up the entire night sky. I decided to unhook the water because the severe weather report suggested staying away from any pipes, hoses, or conductive elements. I was going to wait out the electrical hook up because it was still wicked hot and running the AC kept our spirits up. I thought it might miss us actually, but then the trees started blowing around and the flashes started appearing overhead. When I ran out to unhook electrical, there were a couple of big flashes and booms that made my process quite speedy.
Then we just hunkered down. I was ready to lower the roof if it got bad, not only to protect the windows from golf ball hail, but also thinking it would minimize the impact on the roof. I just said a little “Good luck!” to Bruce, knowing there really wasn’t anything I could do. We turned off all the lights and all three of us sat in the bed area and just stared out the windows. It was actually a pretty cool way to watch one of these things. Never once did any hail fall and we did not get zapped by any lightning strikes. By midnight, it had finished with us and slowly moved its fireworks show elsewhere. Quite a memorable night, I must say!
I think I’ve had my fill of midwest summer weather now, thanks. I know it’s great that there is so much lush vegetation, but man, it comes at a price doesn’t it?
Total miles: 388.1, Engine time: 7 hours 24 min, 16.9 mpg