After spending a little time walking around all the little shops in Estes Park, we bid farewell to sunny Colorado and headed for Nebraska.
On the way to the booming metropolis of Minden, Nebraska, we stopped in Kearny for dinner. Just off I-80 was the Buffalo Bill Cody trading post and museum. The museum consisted of a few small displays toward the back of a 60’s-style souvenir shop. They did have some interesting clothing and weapons as well as a 1:16-scale replica of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The souvenir shop had all the goofy stuff I remember in souvenir shops as a kid. It was a nostalgic break from the long drive.
When we arrived at our hotel, the only hotel in Minden, we saw these and several other Model A Fords in the parking lot. A group of old car collectors was meeting in Minden to participate in a car rally in Kearny the next day celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Lincoln Highway. We spent more than a half hour talking to a couple of nice antique car enthusiasts. Now Tommy wants us to buy a Model A.
The purpose of stopping in Minden was to see the Pioneer Village. It was created by Harold Warp, who made his fortune in plexiglass in the 1940’s. When the one-room school he attend as a kid was about to be torn down, he bought it an started Pioneer Village. This was a terrific, family-owned museum that is every bit as good (perhaps better) than the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. There were 30 or so separate buildings, many the size of warehouses, full of antiques. One of the things that made Pioneer village interesting was that all of the antiques were arranged in chronological order. There was a building full of Chevy’s from the earliest cars to the 1970’s.
Most of the displays had nice, descriptive signs in front of them. I learned a great deal in the short time we were there. We spent four hours in the museum, but we could have easily stayed for two days.
In one building they had some docents who showed the kids crafts, like baking on old coal stoves, making lace, or (as above) making brooms. The gentleman working with the kids was personable and informative.
One of the more interesting displays showed kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms from 1830 to the 1970’s. These displays, again in chronological order, were separated by about 30 years, so it was a nice way to see how technology developed over time.
This was an interesting display of an early car air conditioner. Imagine attaching this onto the car window (in some cases it was displayed on the driver’s side)! None of the vehicles were restored, being in the condition in which they were acquired, but most of the vehicles were in running condition.
There was a reasonably-priced snack bar where we got hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch.
I found these two displays very interesting.
That night we stayed in a ho-hum hotel in Minneapolis. After an ordeal returning the rental car to the airport and taking a combination of light rail and taxi, Sam and I returned to the hotel for bed. The next morning we were up early to pack and take the shuttle to the Amtrak station — just in time to find out the train was almost two hours late.
We barely made our connection in Chicago, but once on board our sleeper car, we enjoyed a relaxing journey from Chicago to Harper’s Ferry, WV.
On the train from Minneapolis to Chicago we adjourned to the club car and played a game of Phase 10 while enjoying lunch.
We had two “roomettes” on the train. A roomette could seat two people very comfortably. At night the seats were made into a lower bunk. The upper bunk folded out of wall/ceiling, just like in old movies. The kids deemed having their own roomette as “awesome.”
Food on a train is quite good. Meals in the dining car are included in the price of staying in the sleeping car. Unlike on airplanes, where you get fed extruded meat paste if you get any food at all, on the train you get real food. We each had steaks, vegetables, and baked potatoes. Service was slow at dinner, so we’re not sure if the steaks were really excellent or whether they just tasted good because we were VERY hungry. When we returned from dinner, our beds had been made up. We had brought our desserts (cheesecake with strawberries) back to our rooms, so we ate dessert while watching a few Mickey Mouse cartoons on my laptop.
The next morning, after Tommy and I had hot showers just down the hall from our roomettes, we all went to the dining car for omelets and French toast for breakfast.
Our train arrived in Harper’s Ferry about 30 minutes late, where my parents picked us up. Our car had been cluttering their driveway while we were gone. After a nice lunch we headed home, our vacation completed.
We only have about eight states left to meet our goal of visiting all 50. Planning is underway for next year.