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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 24: Platte River in Louisville, Nebraska

Heading west from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Jackson Lake State Park in Colorado. I stopped at Louisville Recreation Area in Nebraska to get a view of the Platte River to sketch. Bierstadt did several paintings along the Platte as they traveled west, which are interesting documentation of his travels. It was difficult to find a good view because train tracks run along one side of the river. The path for this rail line may have been routed by Bierstadt's expedition??? Not sure. Bierstadt was all over in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, California, Oregon...just like I felt with Church, I could have spent a whole summer following Bierstadt's path. I may have mentioned this already - but it would be awesome to bike his routes out west.

There is a different history here, of the gold rush, expansion, exploratory trips, native peoples, railroad construction...I am wishing I had a personal historian with me to answer all my questions and set the scene for this time period out west. (Dan? Dad? :) Following the trail of his 1863 expedition makes me feel like I'm on the Lewis and Clark Trail again with my family.

The river is wide and tree lined and there are several people kayaking. A large branch is bobbing up and down making its way down the river...I thought it was a giant snake at first. I started listening to Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard and she is wonderfully descriptive about her experiences in nature.

The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside by a generous hand. But- and this is the point- who gets excited by a mere penny? But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.

What a way to view the world and live your life. She articulates and captures the sense of adventure that is possible to experience outdoors if we approach it with observant eyes and a curious mind. I am loving her beautiful wisdom and insights and it is enriching my own expeirences outdoors.

I drove on route 30 in Nebraska to follow Bierstadt's route. It was nice to feel more slowed down off the main interstate, passing farms and fields and silos, and I turned my GPS off so I wasn't worried about when time I was getting where. In hindsight, I maybe wished I would have taken a faster route so I could have seen the archway museum...but hindsight is 20/20. Excited to be in Colorado and can't wait to see the ROCKY MOUNTAINS tomorrow!

Sketch of Platte River in Louisville, Nebraska.
Second set of notes - needed to record more info than I made room for on first sketch.
"North Fork of the Platte, Nebraska" by Albert Bierstadt
Small painted sketch of the Platte River.
Platte River.
Stopped for a train - I believe the trains run the route many of these first expeditions mapped? I guess that's what they were mapping it for, a train route.
The Great Platte River Road Archway. Closed about an hour before I got there, bummer!
Platte River.



  1. Love the Annie Dillard quote! :)

  2. One of my many favorite Annie quotes seems appropriate as you move from the waters of the Hudson, waved to your home state on the way out, and move forward into the mountains of the west:

    Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with all its stimulus and beauty; I live there. But the mountains are home.

    Can't wait to hear more about your adventures!!

  3. I love the skies that Bierstadt painted! Reminds me of the crazy skies we saw on our TransAm and the skies you painted for your senior thesis work! Glad you slowed down for a bit of peace off the highway! Keep enjoying!
    Love, mom

  4. Buffalo or American Bison....hmmm...we will need to ask Ryan!
    Love your camping van setup!