Last Leg

Someone lost a boot
in Cheyenne!

The last leg of our trip was pretty uneventful.  This leg took us through Cheyenne, Wyoming then on to Lincoln, Nebraska and finally home. We had taken this route to avoid the snow on the southern routes and that strategy worked pretty well. However, as we traveled eastward we knew that we were following in the storm’s footsteps due to the deep snow on the ground.

In Central Nebraska we started seeing huge flocks of birds flying north.  Not only that, we were seeing huge flocks of large birds on land. Thousands and thousands of large gray birds.  Turkeys? No….not dark enough.  Geese?  Maybe, but we could see flocks of geese and these birds didn’t have any white on them. Finally, we couldn’t take the mystery any more.  Mona pulled the car onto an exit and I jumped out with the camera.  I startled the birds and they stood up.  Much to my surprise they were almost 4 feet tall…..cranes!  BIG cranes!

You can barely see the cranes.  (I’ve got to get a new camera and go back!)

Just down the road we pulled into the parking lot of The Crane Trust.  In there we learned that these birds are sandhill cranes and there are about 150,000 of them in the Central Nebraska area right now, with about 500,000 more on the way.  This happens every year as the cranes migrate from the tropics to the far north.  This has been happening for thousands, if not millions of years.  And here we just found out about it!  (Here’s a link to more information: http://www.cranetrust.org/sandhill-cranes)

LOTS of birds!

Also, we learned that Nebraska is a great place for bird-watching in general.  It’s on the migration path for whooping cranes, 36 species of shorebirds, eagles, hawks and lots of other birds.  Over 450 species of birds have been identified in Nebraska over the four seasons, making it one of the best bird-watching spots in this part of the world.  I’m ready to go back!  Just need a little better camera next time….still need to get that Olympus that Pete recommended!!!!

Soon after we visited the cranes we started seeing lots of snow….and lots of cars in the ditches….some of them in pieces.  We were now on the heels of the snow storm.   We stayed the night in Lincoln, Nebraska, hoping to let the storm get ahead of us. The parking lots and roads of Lincoln still needed plowing making this the first place on this trip where we had to slog through snow. (Even though there was 4 feet of snow in Tahoe, it had already been plowed.)  (Oops, forgot about Oklahoma on the way out!)

 

The next day was the last segment of our drive.  Again, there were lots of cars and trucks in the ditches…most had been there a day or two. We drove on with a keen eye on the weather map and doing a good job of lagging behind the storm.  We had a few spots of flurries, but nothing significant until Clinton, Illinois.  There we encountered fierce blizzard conditions….snow blowing horizontally and near white-out conditions.  Luckily, that lasted only five minutes and we were in the clear once again!

We got home Tuesday evening having logged about 5500 miles.  Now, it’s time to stay home and catch up with everyone.  The flowers are starting to push through the snow and I can’t wait to see the new blooms!

 

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