Nebraska Celebrates

Preparing to acknowledge its 150th year of statehood in 2017, Nebraska closed its state museum for 18 months and completely redid it.  Its new exhibit, “Nebraska Unwrapped”, has opened.  It’s worth traveling to Lincoln to see.

Over the past 2 years Ruth & I have discovered that Nebraska is an undervalued travel destination.  Among its passions are speed, a museum in its capital is devoted to it, and quilts (the national museum is here).  Quilts are celebrated in “Nebraska Unwrapped”.

The state museum’s 3rd floor is still closed.  In January it will open with a unique, new exhibit.  In it, Nebraska will feature its immigrant population.  Among those are Yazidis.  Lincoln is home to the largest community of these Iraqis who now reside in the United States.


On the Road Meeting Ginger

Ginger is a 7-year-old greyhound.  She’s a greeter at the strangely compelling Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene, Kansas.  Ruth especially bonded with her.  Reportedly, 18,000 greyhounds like Ginger are adopted each year when they retire from racing.

Greyhounds are different from every other breed of dog.  They don’t, for example, sit easily on hard surfaces.  They run 45 mph.

Racing them is somewhat fading as a sport for many reasons.  It’s still popular in West Virginia, and Kansas is a big breeding state where 20 families around Abilene raise them.


Aspen Institute

This is the year of the institute for Ruth and me.  The Aspen Institue has a national reputation, and we are here during part of its Hurst Lecture Series.

We missed hearing Ruth Bader Ginsburg talk about Antonin Scalia because her presence wasn’t announced in the media.  According to Ginsburg, reportedly, she and Scalia were very close friends despite political differences.

Yesterday we heard Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe speak. Because he runs the only state with a one-term limit, he will be available to campaign for President in 2020 and is clearly interested.  Glib and forthright, McAuliffe called today, “Ground Zero for Democrats” if they want to win future elections.

Today, Condoleezza Rice speaks.


Most Beautiful State

When so-called experts rate states for natural beauty, California usually comes in first.  Utah tends to rank 4th or 5th.  A strong case could be made for ranking Utah higher.  After all, it doesn’t have a dramatic coastline.

What it does have is an extreme number of unparallelled national parks, Zion, fine national monuments like the new Bears Ears, and exceptional state parks, like Dead Horse Point.

While I debate Utah’s rating, I want to nominate Interstate 70 between Salina and Green River,  where Ruth and I are, as the most beautiful interstate drive.


Our Wetland Adventure


One of Ruth’s friends sent us a charming, touching YouTube video called Kyle the Goose-Lake Oswego, OR.  It was followed by “Man and goose forge unusual friendship” (On the Road: CBS Evening News).   Oswego Lake resulted from the breakup of the ice dam that kept Glacial Lake Missoula from inundating the West Coast, until it didn’t.  This ice age flood left its watery mark on Ruth’s father’s property that became the Johnnie and Bill Koller Wetland Park, Ruth’s exciting legacy.  Check out Kyle.

Lake Oswego is an affluent community in the Portland area, and Lake Oswego, or Oswego Lake, flows through its center. Once a channel of the Tualatin River, this large body of water now seeps slowly into the Willamette River.  When the Ice Age flood reached this area, an underwater vortex called a kolk enlarged a river channel and formed current-day Lake Oswego.  “Kolk” isn’t the only new word I learned doing research into this lake that is far larger than the one on the old Koller property.  It has an almost 14 mile shoreline. This shoreline today is private land lined with fine residences.  It’s also Kyle’s home and loved by water skiers.  I also now know the meaning of “hypereutrophic”. which best describes this lake’s water. “Hypereutrophic” means very rich in nutrients and minerals.

Native Americans called this lake Waluga (Wild Swan).  Early settlers less romantically called it Sucker Lake.  Before both groups lived there, it was in the Tonquin Scablands Geologic Area that included the place where Portland is now.   Back then it was under water.  Ruth & I haven’t seen Oswego Lake yet other than in the YouTube video.  Our next adventure will include it, a lawyer who worked with Paul Hennon, our liaison and Tualatin Community Services Director, and perhaps some locals who knew Ruth’s father after we lost contact with him.

According to Paul, it will be years before this wetland park can be developed into a tourist lure.  Koller Lake is currently choked with water lilies. We’re hoping that some significant geologic puzzle pieces will connect and that some prehistoric animal bones will be found before a citified park becomes a reality.