Nebraska On My Mind

After five days of hanging about and relaxing around the border of Montana and Wyoming I am now in Nebraska.

It was an odd feeling heading East today. Waking up early in the morning and having the sun in my eyes versus skimming my back. Starting off this morning from Shoshone National Forest just outside of Cody, WY meant I also had to go South to get to Nebraska. Southeast vs. Northwest, one might not think it would feel as extreme as it did, but it did.

The other oddity about such a journey was the fact that it took me out of the gorgeous mountains. Of the eight hours I rode today I would say only 20% of it was through beautiful scenery. The rest was slightly un-enjoyable. I think I may have been spoiled by my last five days of breathtaking beauty, not to mention the week before that. My ride through Shoshone National Forest was gorgeous as was the ride from the town of Thermopolis to the town of Shoshone, that was about it. The rest was average.

Regardless, after five days of taking it easy, eight hours through yellowed grass on rolling hills and windy plains certainly isn’t easy. The most I rode at one time in the last five days was four hours, and that was through the lovely scenery Yellowstone has to offer. I have been saying quite often lately how Wyoming and Montana have been pulling on my heartstrings, but after today’s ride through Southern Wyoming I have to say that statement only applies to the Northern half.

But, now here I am. Laying in my tent in Nebraska. I was lucky enough to run low on gas right as I got over the border. I say lucky because I was exhausted and I happened to roll into the small town of Harrison, population 231.

The gas station, the ONE gas station, in this small Nebraskan town closes at 5:30. Imagine that. So here I was, an hour out of my intended campsite with no fuel and no station to get some for thirty miles. I was riding in circles around the quaint houses of Harrison, considering humorous puns I could have been making had I been in my Ford and making them anyway, while wondering what I was going to do. With very little money and no place to sleep there didn’t seem to be much for options. Then I noticed a sign with the image of a tent and an RV and an arrow on it. I was taken aback by this new found service in a town with a gas station that closed at 5:30. I had trouble believing it. Even so, I followed the arrow anyway. It lead me down two blocks of houses and to the city park. There was an RV parked on a gravel pad  and one other pad for another.

As strange as it seemed, there it was; here it is. Free camping in Harrison, NE right in the city park. I am quite pleased with this find.

Another interesting side note, the camp hosts are also from Minnesota. I am finding Minnesotans in the strangest places these days.

I guess I should tell you why I’m here, Southeast vs Northwest, Nebraska vs back up in Montana. I’m currently planning a trip to Neligh, Nebraska to follow the sound of music.

When I was in South Dakota a few weeks ago I was told by my aunt about a concert that was going to be held in Neligh to protest the pipeline. The performers are Neil Young and Willy Nelson.

Let me repeat. Neil Young. Willy Nelson.

What?!? I know. That’s like a real thing right there.

So yeah, I’m actually headed there. I am a young human on a cross country motorcycle trip, why wouldn’t I go?

The one thing that stands in the way is finances. When my aunt first told me about it I sort of laughed, thinking about how cool it was and how, like every other cool iconic experience I have wanted to have in life, it was utterly impossible. Too cool to be true, too out of my league. My realm of possibility limited by resources and a life tied down to.. wait, what? I don’t know. What is it that has always stood in the way of living those cool iconic experiences? I don’t know.

My aunt showed me the Rolling Stones article that told about the concert. The article mentioned that the last time Neil and Willie played together in Nebraska was 1987. I sighed in admiration and wistful what ifs. I chatted with my aunt about the cool iconic-ness of such an event, and the absolute impracticality of it.

The previous evening my aunt and I had talked about all the cool concerts she’d been to see. I sat and listened as she told me that she had seen the Grateful Dead live multiple times. I soaked in her tales of seeing Prince and Dire Straits live, all the while trying to place myself in her shoes. Wanting to be the young woman who got to see those acts live, just for a moment.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have seen a lot of great live music. Many Minnesota bands that will always top my list when asked to discuss talent. Bands like The Limns, Nathan Miller, Chastity Brown, Useful Jenkins, Saint Anyway; just to name a few. Some of my most favorite artists come out of the Bemidji and Grand Rapids area. The Seasonals and Sam Miltich and Friends, two groups that have a lot of talent in them. Talent that almost feels limited by the confines of Northern Minnesota until one remembers, they are what MAKE Northern Minnesota.

So my live music experience is not by any means lacking. I feel I have tales to tell too. The difference is mine only ranges so far. My live music experiences don’t include any artists that I have been listening to since childhood.

So at first when my aunt told me I laughed. Secure in the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to worry about attending such a cool iconic show. Then I remembered that outside the front door, just fifty feet away, stood Little Wing. And over on the futon, surrounded by my cousins’ guitars and keyboards, sat all my belongings for the next year. Scattered and ready to be packed back into the waterproof duffle and tank bag were all my commitments for an entire year. No strings, no tie downs. Just some bungee cords and fasteners.

It was then I realized there was no fancy excuse holding me back. There was no reason I shouldn’t go see two of most favorite artists perform live in Nebraska. No reason not to be the young woman who got to see the live acts. The only thing standing in my way is finances.

I decided I wanted to go, and in that decision I determined I would research my way around my financial restrictions. After all, I don’t know what has always stood in the way of living those cool iconic experiences, and I’m not sure I want to remember. I researched the concert, the venue, the ticket price, all of it. What I found is that all 850 tickets sold out. I also found there was a call out for volunteers. So, I applied, and now here I am, in Nebraska. The only thing that could drag me here this late in the season is live music, namely Neil Young and Willie Nelson.

This weekend I will get to experience it. The memory of today’s long ride, and the one I have ahead of me tomorrow, will soon be distant. They will be left behind here, in the small welcoming village of Harrison. I’m okay with that.

After this weekend I will hopefully not have a tale to tell about what stood in the way of living those cool iconic experiences. I am doing it.

Northwestern vs. Southeastern be damned. Little Wing and I will ride the distance for gorgeous scenery or the sound of music.

(Edit: There were about 7000 tickets sold is what I was told. The 850 that I mentioned earlier was most likely a small sale. It seems they ticket releases have been staggered.)


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