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October 14th 2015
Published: October 14th 2015
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I'm back in Nebraska for what I hope is the last time on this trip. I came here to see a couple of really cool geological sights before I head back up north into Wyoming and South Dakota tomorrow. The two places I visited, Scotts Bluff and Chimney Rock, were exceptional.

One of the things that surprised me today was the sun. The temperature never got over 75 F, but the sun was brutal. I felt like I was in Texas again with 100+ degree temperatures, shading my arms and bare skin in the car as I rode around. And when I got to the top of Scotts Bluff for the fantastic views, I felt quite unprotected. I brought bug spray on this trip, but I didn't think sunscreen would be necessary in October, this far north. Oops.

My morning began with breakfast at my hotel, the Comfort Inn in Laramie, WY. Easily the best hotel I've stayed in on this trip (and the best breakfast, too), though the one I'm staying in tonight may be just as good. After breakfast, I went back to the University of Wyoming campus, which I adore. Then I found the Laramie City Hall, an art deco building, before heading out to Cheyenne. The roads in Wyoming are also the best ones I've traveled on for this trip, and maybe because they're the least traveled of any roads I've been on for this trip. And I finally got to see an 80 mph sign, so I obliged. It was great. I wish more places had those.

Cheyenne was a cute little capital city, where the railroad was and still is king. It dominates the central downtown area. I went to the Depot Museum, mainly because the interior had been redecorated in the 1930s and, you guessed it, in art deco style. But it still had working platforms for the trains. After I scoped that out, I saw the state capitol and headed to the airport for a glimpse of an art deco fountain there before heading on to Nebraska.

Today was one of the least driving-intensive days for me so far. But that didn't mean the driving was boring. Just like yesterday, I was captivated by the landscape - the bluffs that pop up out of nowhere, or where the road takes you between two of them. I just love the striated patterns that tell you the ages of the earth from top to bottom.

Scotts Bluff is a national park, so you pay $5 to get in. That allows your car to drive up to the top of the precipice, where you can park and then go to northern and southern overlook points. I chose the southern point, since it had the terrain that I came to see. It just feels like massive stones rise out of the ground, from nowhere. Sometimes, they connect into a small chain, or a cliff juts out with a few peaks on it, but it's so random that this elevation is there in the middle of otherwise flat land. At the base of the park, you can even walk out to a dirt trail that is the actual Oregon Trail, or what's left of it, from where the first white settlers made their way westward.

About a 20-minute drive southeast from Scotts Bluff is Chimney Rock, which was also a guidepost on the journey westward. Take a look at the picture and it's easy to see why. This rock really just juts out from the top of a massive outcropping of solid rock, and it does look like a chimney from a distance. I can see why this was a natural guidepost along the westward trail. You can't get too close to the rock, and there's a visitor's center that charges $3 for something (not sure what), but I just took some pictures, stared in wonder, and made my way back to the north and west.

I'm staying in a town called Morrill, but there's absolutely nothing here except some rail sites, a diner straight out of the 1950s, and this hotel. And a gas station. So, on my way from the big rock to the hotel, I saw that I could catch a movie in Scottsbluff, since it was the last cinema for at least 100 miles. So I stopped by their mall, where the cinema is located. That was an experience. I don't think I've seriously been to a mall in 3 or 4 years. This place reminded me why - so few people there, and the shops were less than appealing. But they did have a Subway, so I got some grub. I also found a sports store that stocked lots of Nebraska swag, so I picked up a cheap pennant before I left.

The cinema didn't open until 4 PM. At all. Even though it was inside the mall. I didn't have time or energy to go see The Martian last night, as I had hoped, so I saw it here. Such a good movie. I recommend it, if you get a chance. Plus it was a good reason to get out of the sun, which was doing murder to my skin.

It's an early night tonight, but I know tomorrow will be heavy on the driving, so I'm glad to get another low-key evening. Plus, as always, I'll need to do some schoolwork, which I'm just about done with. One last observation: I keep forgetting that I'm 2 hours behind everyone else, so it always annoys me when people text me early in the morning or ask where I'm staying the night at like 5 PM, until I remember the time difference. For me, for instance, it's only 8 PM right now, but it's 10 PM on the East coast, so I'm sure most people won't even bother to read this. Let me know if you get this far!

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17th October 2015
On the Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail
Great photo

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