Nebraska Part II: Ogallala

We weren’t too strategic as we decided on our second stop in Nebraska. We knew we would be heading to Denver after we left the Cornhusker State, so we looked at a map and tried to locate something of interest somewhere in the middle between Ashland and Denver. Mike honed in on Lake McConaughy on the far western side of the state, slightly north of I-80 (which was the route we would be traveling to Denver). We were so impressed with Mahoney State Park, we wanted to stay in another Nebraska State Park if we could. Mike located a campground with full hook-ups on the lakeshore, but the Parks Department turned off the water to the park after the first freeze of the season, and we were due to arrive after that cold spell. I wasn’t interested in camping without a water hook-up. We have a 100-gallon fresh water storage tank in the Monaco, so we could have managed fine for several days. However, I opted for the convenience factor of parking once with full working water, sewer and electricity… and drive the car to the lake when we wanted to go. We settled for a Plan B and paid for two weeks at a tiny privately owned campground called Country View RV Park in the nearest town of Ogallala . It was just south of town on I-80 by the Tractor store and Walmart. The price was inexpensive and we were only six miles from the lake. All in all, it wasn’t a glamorous place to stay, but it was convenient and had everything we needed.

Ogallala is named for a band of Dakota Sioux and located on the Union Pacific Railroad. In its day, it was a lusty cowtown of the Old West. The Texas Trail went through this town. As did the Pony Express. Its geographic location made Ogallala the gateway to the northern plains in the late 1800’s. An influx of cattlemen who came to town to negotiate prices of Longhorns created a need for saloons, stores and  hotels. An enormous cattle yard on the south side of town usually held 10 to 12 herds , each of 2,500 head – while they waited for their new owners. As a matter of fact, the little town still smelled strongly of cattle all these years later. It is obvious why the title of “Cowboy Capital” has been bestowed on Ogallala.

We spent two weeks here in cowboy land. There was heavy traffic on the road in front of our campground, but it was mainly comprised of trucks hauling harvested produce or tractors and other farm equipment. Mike fished at the big lake and at another small lake in the middle of town. He brought home fresh trout, crappie and bass each time he went out. I didn’t do too much from this stop – just the usual cooking, reading, walking, cleaning, blogging and campfireing . It was a relaxing second stop in Nebraska.

This bronze statue is called The Trail Boss. It is a tribute to the courageous men who came up the Texas Trail and recognizes the roll the trail drives played in establishing the beef cattle industry in the northern plains.

This bronze statue is called The Trail Boss. It is a tribute to the courageous men who came up the Texas Trail and recognizes the roll the trail drives played in establishing the beef cattle industry in the northern plains.

We would like to honor the City of Ogallala with an award from The Lower 48 in 48 Tour. Wackiest Water Tower. The municipal water tower had the picture of an alien painted on four sides. At night it had flashing red and white lights around the base the container - about the bottom of the blue stripe. There was also a flashing red light on the top of the Tower. It lit up at dusk each night. (I looked online and learned that it is actually painted to be a UFO, those are port holes the aliens are peering out of. The lights are landing lights for the space ship. Of course).

We would like to honor the City of Ogallala with an award from The Lower 48 in 48 Tour. Wackiest Water Tower. The municipal water tower had the picture of an alien painted on four sides. At night it had flashing red and white lights around the base of the container – about the bottom of the blue stripe. There was also a flashing red light on the top of the tower. It lit up at dusk each night. (I looked online and learned that it is actually painted to be a UFO, those are port holes the aliens are peering out of. The lights are landing lights for the space ship. Of course).

Mike spotted this little critter watching him fish one afternoon. Not sure, but I think its a weasel.

Mike spotted this little critter watching him fish one afternoon. Not sure, but I think its a weasel.

This hawk escorted us on an afternoon walk one day.

This hawk escorted us on an afternoon walk one day.

You can see why the two weeks in Ogallala were low key. We were in the middle of nowhere.

You can see why the two weeks in Ogallala were low key. We were in the middle of nowhere.

Doing some recon for a possible pheasant hunting expedition. Mike ultimately vetoed his idea because it is really necessary to have a few people and some dogs to be successful at pheasant hunting. Cessna is scared of guns, so we weren't going to be using our own canines...

Doing some recon for a possible pheasant hunting expedition. Mike ultimately vetoed his idea because it is really necessary to have a few people and some dogs to be successful at pheasant hunting. Cessna is scared of guns, so we weren’t going to be using our own canines…

The types of fish that can be caught in Lake McConaughy.

The types of fish that can be caught in Lake McConaughy.

Our campground was adjacent to a FedEx transfer lot, so the view wasn't spectacular... until it came time to watch the sunset. We were able to enjoy several warm bright sunsets from this part of Nebraska.

Our campground was adjacent to a FedEx transfer lot, so the view wasn’t spectacular… until it came time to watch the sunset. We were able to enjoy several warm bright sunsets from this part of Nebraska.

Piper inspecting his human's daily catch.

Piper inspecting his human’s daily catch.

Each time Mike went fishing from this stop, his bucket looked like this when he got home.

Each time Mike went fishing from this stop, his bucket looked like this when he got home.

Lake McConaughy (Big Mac) is one of Nebraska's top outdoor vacation destinations. With 35,000 surface acres and 105 miles of shoreline, it is the state's biggest playground offering year-round fun. Fishing is the primary drawing cards, but other entertainment options include sailing, camping, windsurfing, scuba diving, water skiing and picnicking.

Lake McConaughy (Big Mac) is one of Nebraska’s top outdoor vacation destinations. With 35,000 surface acres and 105 miles of shoreline, it is the state’s biggest playground offering year-round fun. Fishing is the primary drawing card, but other entertainment options include sailing, camping, windsurfing, scuba diving, water skiing and picnicking.

Lake Ogallala is also called The Little Lake. It is on the other side of the dam, and was created when fill dirt was taken to build the dam.

Lake Ogallala is also called The Little Lake. It is on the other side of the dam, and was created when fill dirt was taken to build the dam.

The road from in town out to the lake.

The road from town out to the lake.

Seems like we sure go to a lot of trouble to cook dinner outside, but it is more fun that way!

Seems like we sure go to a lot of trouble to cook dinner outside, but it is more fun that way!

There were no walking paths or sidewalks anywhere near out campground. As a result, we loaded the dogs in the car and took them to a paved trail in town every day to get their exercise. From one end to the other and back was just about 3 miles. This was the view during our daily trek.

There were no walking paths or sidewalks anywhere near our campground. As a result, we loaded the dogs in the car and took them to a paved trail in town every day to get their exercise. From one end to the other and back was just about 3 miles. This was the view during our daily trek.

Ogallala is home to the Wild West Soap Box Derby Track. I'm not sure, but I doubt there are too many of these in the USA.

Ogallala is home to the Wild West Soap Box Derby Track. I’m not sure, but I doubt there are too many of these in the USA.

Our spot - number 9.

Our spot – number 9.

This glider was hanging out in the skies over Ogallala on the day we arrived.

This glider was hanging out in the skies over Ogallala on the day we arrived.

Our last Nebraska campfire.

Our last Nebraska campfire.

 

 

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