There are interesting things to see in Nebraska but we didn’t make a priority to search them out on this trip; it became a state we were just to pass through from the West to the East. As usual, we drove until it was late in the afternoon to look for a place to stay. On this day, we just entered Nebraska and based on the AAA campground book, we decided to try out this place near Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area. It was Saturday afternoon and the campground was nearly full I believe and we were given the option of staying at primitive camping area.
We drove to the area and had a look. It was interesting: it was like a neighborhood park, wide open and no designated camping site. We were told to just find any place we liked and pitched a tent. This was highly unusual in a park setting. There was no water but it had a couple of portable johns seen often on a construction site. Because we had enough drinking water, thanked to our collapsible water jug which we often kept full, we opted to stay to experience something different. The area was right next to a lake and across on the other side, we could see many RV campers where the main campground was. There were only a couple of other campers in the area. We found a place close to the lake, set up and quickly cooked a dinner as the day quickly came to an end. It was a beautiful sunset as the west horizon was filled with red and orange. We had an unforgetable dinner there.
The next morning, we packed up and decided to drive around Lake McConaughy before heading toward Iowa. The country side was a little what I expected with haystacks and cornfields, although corn were still small. There were a few boats in the lake with people fishing from them. We also passed a few beat-up houses, perhaps vacated a long time ago. I remember reading about how some Midwest towns are offering a free house as an incentive for young couples to move there as they are losing populations. Acres and acres of available land laid unclaimed whereas coastal cities are swelled with population explosion. As we passed a river, we saw a couple of fishermen standing in the river, enjoying their weekend fly fishing perhaps. It seemed to be an enjoyable place. The lake was bigger than I expected and it took us more than 2 hours to circumnavigate it.
As we were almost ready to get back on Interstate 80, the driver in a car behind us honked at us repeatedly. I thought perhaps I drove too slow (which I doubted) and upset the driver. I chose to pull into a gas station and hopefully the car would pass us by. Instead the car pulled into the gas station with us and the driver got out and started walking toward us. This might seem innocent enough to many but I had a scare. When I was much younger, I had an incidence where other drivers had followed me and wanted to fight with me and another incidence I was front ended by a car backing up to escape another driver with a baseball bat. I rolled down the window and braced myself for the worse. The driver told us that something blue had fell off our cargo box on our van’s roof about a mile back.
I got out of the van and checked the cargo box on the top. He was right; the cargo box was not shut properly and a few things had flown off, not just the blue thing. I thanked the guy the quickly closed the cargo box so we could go back to retrieve the missing things. A couple of minutes later, we saw the blue thing, the portable infant bath tub, sitting smacked in the middle of other lane. I was surprised nobody had hit it. I pulled off to the side and rescued it from the road. But there were still many other things missing: our camping tarp, sleeping pads, a bag of diapers, a folding chair and maybe others. We continued our search as we retraced our route and looked for our things.
Instead of looking at the scenery, we were looking for garbage this time. There were a few false alarms as the country side wasn’t as pristine as we thought but eventually after about 10 miles, we found our things scattered on the side of the road, apparently undamaged. I quickly retrieved our things and stuffed into the van. I should have taken a picture of them as they laid on the side of the road. Later on we realized one thing was missing but it was not a necessary item. We were lucky that this happened on a country road as opposed to an interstate highway where it would be almost impossible to recover. Also luckily the side which we opened and closed was on the passenger side therefore things fell off the side of the road instead of into the oncoming traffic.
I learned that although the Yakima cargo box had a big level latch to indicate if the top was properly closed, that was not sufficient. The latch could close but the top could still be unsecured. From then on, I learned to check and double-check the cargo box to make sure it was locked properly by pulling on the top to make sure it wouldn’t come apart and it never did again for the rest of the trip.