Day 1 of our Nebraska trip with Steve’s parents began with a stop at The Village Pie Maker in Eustis, Nebraska. After learning the secret to making the best pie ever, we headed north to Cozad where we crossed the 100th Meridian.

The 100th Meridian in Cozad, Nebraska.

The 100th Meridian in Cozad, Nebraska.

Having been on Interstate 80 a thousand times, we opted for the more scenic Highway 30, also known as the Lincoln Highway, as we headed west. Just a few miles down the road, we stopped at Gothenburg, which is home to two Pony Express Stations. We stopped at the Sam Macchette station which is located in Ehmen Park. The station was originally used as a fur trading post/ranch housing along the Oregon Trail before it was used as a Pony Express station in 1860-61.

Pony Express station in Gothenburg, Nebraska.

Pony Express station in Gothenburg, Nebraska.

It was moved to Ehmen Park in 1931 and has been open to the public since 1954. Admission is free. We loved looking around and reading all about the Pony Express and seeing items like the ones that were used by riders who delivered mail.

Inside the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska.

Inside the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska.

There were also books and other items for sale, along with some great postcards (we love those) and special Pony Express stamps.

Lots of great postcards at the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska

Lots of great postcards at the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska

Of course, we purchased a few postcards, wrote them out, and mailed them from a saddlebag on the door.

Mail bag at the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska.

Mail bag at the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska.

After a short visit there, we got back in the van and drove further west to North Platte, where I’d lived right after college when I got my first job as a newspaper reporter at The North Platte Telegraph.

My first job after college was as a reporter for The North Platte Telegraph newspaper.

My first job after college was as a reporter for The North Platte Telegraph newspaper.

I hadn’t been there in years, so we made a quick stop for me to go inside and reminisce with some of the staff there about what newspaper life was like before digital cameras and pagination. (I can still remember the smell of the hot wax we used to paste up the pages.)

Our next stop was one of our favorite Nebraska attractions — the Golden Spike Tower and Visitors Center overlooking Union Pacific Railroad’s Bailey Yard. Steve and I had been there before and we were excited to take Steve’s mom and dad there, as well.

Union Pacific Railroad's Bailey Yard.

Union Pacific Railroad’s Bailey Yard.

We took the elevator to the open-air observation deck at the Golden Spike Tower and walked out into the fresh air to see and hear the hundreds of trains below in the world’s largest railroad classification yard. The massive yard covers more than 2,850 acres and is eight miles long. It handles 12,000 railroad cars every day and services 9,000 locomotives every month.

The beautiful view of the prairie from the top of the Golden Spike Tower at Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska.

The beautiful view of the prairie from the top of the Golden Spike Tower at Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska.

One of the things we love most about visiting Bailey Yard is that there is typically a retired railroad employee who is on site to answer questions and tell you about his experiences on the rail road. Check out this video below of the trains “humping” at Bailey Yard.

We spent more than an hour watching the trains and learning about the railroad before perusing the gift shop and purchasing (of course) a couple postcards.

The gift shop at the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska.

The gift shop at the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska.

The gift shop at the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska.

The gift shop at the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska.

The gift shop at the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska.

The gift shop at the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska.

We checked into our hotel before dinner. Most of the time when we’re in North Platte, we stay at the Hampton Inn near the interstate. It is seriously one of the very best Hilton properties we’ve ever seen. The staff is super friendly and helpful, the rooms are extra clean, and you will not meet nicer ladies than the ones who work in the breakfast area there.

At the recommendation of the hotel desk clerk, we decided to try a new restaurant for dinner and were not disappointed! Mallory’s offered several options for seating, inside the Irish pub bar, outside on a patio, or inside in a coffee shop space. We all enjoyed our dinners and adult beverages there.

Mallory's in North Platte, Nebraska.

Mallory’s in North Platte, Nebraska.

After supper, we relaxed with a nice drive through a local favorite, Cody Park, where we took time to watch the geese, peacocks and other wildlife. The park also has an iconic carousel, lion’s mouth water fountain (do you remember one from your childhood?), and an ice cream stand that serves up special treats.

The carousel at Cody Park in North Platte, Nebraska.

The carousel at Cody Park in North Platte, Nebraska.

Ice cream stand in Cody Park in North Platte, Nebraska.

Ice cream stand in Cody Park in North Platte, Nebraska.

Knowing that there was lots more to see and do in North Platte, we called it day, and planning to continue our exploration of this western railroad town in the morning.


Next up: What we found at Fort Cody Trading Post, our look inside Scout’s Rest Ranch, and what we learned about the North Platte Canteen. 

  • Perched high on a hill in Tuscany is the medieval village of Montepulciano. In the center of town is the piazza grande paved with bricks laid in a herringbone pattern in the 14th century. ⁣
⁣
Standing in the piazza, looking at the bricks, we were filled with a sense of awe at the history these bricks have seen. They've been there for 700 years so have seen times of war and peace, celebration and sorrow. Generation after generation of townsfolk were born, lived and died, and all have walked on these bricks. ⁣
⁣
This is one of the things we love most about traveling. It gives us an authentic feel for history, one we wouldn't have if we just stayed at home.
  • We were so tickled when @thechefandthedish reached out and asked us if we'd like to take a complimentary cooking class with them. They offer private cooking classes with chefs from all over the world that you can take right in your own kitchen. ⁣
⁣
For this class, we Skyped with chef Paola who taught us to make strawberry risotto, traditional bruschetta, and a delicious poached pear dessert that blew our minds. ⁣
⁣
Risotto always seemed like a difficult dish to make, but Chef Paola explained it so well that it wound up being pretty easy. We spent a great afternoon with friends, learned something new, and enjoyed a great meal after. A class with The Chef & The Dish is a great gift idea, as well. Follow the link in our bio, and you can read more about our class on our blog.
  • The world is a big place, and there's so much to discover. Go places, and see things. It doesn't matter if you don't have a detailed itinerary, either. Sometimes, it's more about the journey and what you see and experience along the way, than it is about the destination.
  • During our trip in Tuscany with @italyunfiltered, we stopped at a small family winery. After learning about the organic methods they use to produce high quality Chianti Clasico wines, we had a tasting. ⁣
⁣
Wine tastings in Italy are nothing like those in the US. They are glorious affairs complete with delicious foods paired with the incredible wines. This particular winery brought us samples of homemade, organic jams made from fruits grown in the family's garden. We dabbed these on locally produced pecorino cheese. Yum!⁣
⁣
We're so glad that we had a local driver and guide. Stopping here was a highlight of our Italian adventure, and we never would have found it on our own.
  • The village of Marsaxlokk, Malta, is famous for these brightly painted fishing boats. The design is rather ancient, possibly dating back to Phoenician times, though it's still used today because it is very strong and holds up well in rough weather. One feature of each boat's decorations, are eyes painted on the bow of the boat. These eyes are said to protect the people fishing while they are at sea.
  • The blue cobblestones of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, are actually part of a recycling project which started 500 years ago. Iron foundries in Spain produced huge piles of waste, called slag. Rather than throw these piles away, the slag was made into blocks which was placed into ships as ballast. The ballast was offloaded in Puerto Rico when they loaded products bound for Spain. The blocks were then used to pave the streets. ⁣
⁣
Pretty good idea, and 500 years later, they are holding up well!
  • The Overseas Highway connects Key West and the Florida Keys to the mainland U.S. While the entire road is a marvel of engineering, the centerpiece is the Seven Mile Bridge, which runs over water for, well, seven miles.⁣
⁣
The next time you're driving, reset your trip odometer and wait until it gets to seven miles. You'll see that's a pretty long distance. And then think about the fact that people built a bridge over water with no land to support them for that distance. Pretty incredible-especially since the first one was built in 1912.
  • We'd never heard of cannonball rocks before we drove past them at North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and asked each other, "did you see that?" We'd never seen anything quite like these natural "concretions" created when water leaked into pockets of minerals in the ground. Now, as a hill erodes, these formations are exposed.⁣
⁣
Seeing these rocks was such a cool experience because it reminded us of why we travel. We never know when we'll find something new, something that we never knew existed. We got along fine not knowing about cannonball rocks, yet now that we've seen them, our lives are a little richer. ⁣
⁣
The world is a pretty cool place. Check it out.⁣
⁣
@ndlegendary

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska