Saturday, October 23, 2010 Rain and fog early morning; then partly sunny and windy, 77 degrees
We drove through the cornfields of Nebraska this morning and sympathized with the pioneers who trudged through it at 15 miles per day. It really would have been tedious. When there was no corn, there were extremely large livestock pens and feeding lots. Those we could smell before we could see them. We also saw large trucks hauling sugar beets and corn, of course.
We left for Independence, MO, early this morning to get to the National Trails Museum before it closed. With good weather and relatively light traffic we were there by 1:30.
The National Trails Museum details the major trails of the Westward Expansion: Oregon, California, Santa Fe, and Mormon Trails. Regardless of the trail taken or what the reason for traveling it, the details of the hardships faced were the same: disease, injuries, death, starvation, lack of water, difficulties fording rivers and climbing mountains, bad weather, injured or dying draft animals, and wagon mishaps to name a few. Although the maps, illustrations, artifacts, and narratives were very informative, the words of the pioneers themselves as recorded in their diaries or letters were the most poignant. Early in the migration they wrote of the excitement of the journey and what they hoped to realize when they reached the trail's end. But by the time they were into the mountain ranges, they were writing of the hardships they were facing. As they wrote, they'd met the "elephant," and they wished they could return home.
As usual we watched the introductory film, but an especially helpful docent gave us several books and maps to read at our leisure. In the bookstore is a series of books which holds diary entries by the year that I'm hoping to read.
We had hoped to reach Columbia, MO, tonight, but there is a big football game between undefeated OK and MO teams. Everything is booked for miles around. Tomorrow we plan to be in Wood River, IL, the jumping off point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We've been to the end; now we'll finally get to the beginning.
TODAY'S ROUTE: from North Platte, NE, I 80E to NE 2S at Lincoln, NE, and on to I 29S into IA and to I 435E in Kansas City, MO. Finally, I 70E to Concordia, MO
Total mileage to date 11,544