Here is the last in the series of camping-related blogs written by NPPD teammates. It’s a great telling of crossing Nebraska on an antique tractor and a good reminder that when we slow down we can see better, perhaps, just how wonderful the world (and most of the people) around us are. This is also a perfect time to thank the NPPD “bloggers” who offered up their camping stories for some light summer reading. “Thank you very much, one and all.”
From May 29 through June 6, I traveled across the great state of Nebraska … on a 1952 Farmall M Tractor as part of the Tractor Ride Across Nebraska (TRAN2015). I was with a group of antique tractor owners who take a week each year to have fun driving our tractors and seeing Nebraska from a different perspective. At the same time, we raised funds for the American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warrior project.
In our travels, I was humbled by the generosity of both our group of riders and of Nebraska citizens as we raised over $10,000 for our cause over our nine-day trip. The long line of colorful, antique tractors is quite a sight to see, and almost every tractor flies a U.S. flag.
This year’s route started at the Wyoming border west of Harrison, Neb. Each night along the way I camped out, and the first night we camped at Fort Robinson State Park. Other camping stops included Chadron State Park, Gordon RV park, Cody city park, Valentine city park, Springview city park, Spencer city park, and Crofton city park.
All of these camping facilities provided either a hot shower or electrical hookups or both and after a day of sitting on a tractor, with the sun and dusty roads, showers were welcome. The weather was great, and each night we were able to sit around campfires and visit about all we had seen that day.
You tend to notice more of the scenery, wildlife, and everything along the way at 12 miles an hour, sitting high on a tractor.
When your travel speed is 12 miles an hour, most of your day is taken up by just getting to your next destination. Our route this year generally traveled Highway 20 east to Valentine, Highway 12 to Crofton, then Highway 121 to Gavin’s Point Dam.
Where more scenic roads existed parallel to the predetermined route, they were taken, such as through wildlife refuges, side trips to farms where local tractor collections exist or to historical points of interest. We were generally greeted continually by rural Nebraska small town hospitality, everywhere we stopped.
Cody was the smallest town we stayed at overnight, but their hospitality was as big as any town we stayed. We stopped for Lunch in historic Monowi, population 1, yes, ONE, and had a great lunch there; talk about small town.
We stopped for a restroom break between Gordon and Merriman, and I noticed the distribution line along the highway. In conversations with others in the group, I commented that I have studied that line working for NPPD. In fact many of the campgrounds and communities we stopped in are served either directly by NPPD or indirectly through an NPPD wholesale partner.
There were several tractors that traveled the whole distance of TRAN2015, but even more locals folks with tractors joined in for one or two days along the way. Tractors numbered from 25 to 40 each day. There were even two recently retired guys from Kentucky who hauled a tractor 1,200 miles to participate in the drive.
On our final day, we were treated to a tour of Gavin’s Point Dam Powerhouse. Due to security concerns all powerhouse tours had been suspended for all the Missouri river powerhouses for several years, but they have restarted tours at Gavin’s Point Dam powerhouse, and members of our group were some of the first to restart the tours.
Touring Nebraska on an antique tractor at 12 miles an hour may not be for everyone, but for me it’s a great way to spend time with some outstanding people and experience the slower side of life. If you want to know more about our antique tractor group, go to antiquefarming.org.