Friday, May 19, 2017

Waubonsie State Park, Hamburg, Iowa

May 14 - 16, 2017:

Our cat Alice watches our every move and when we start to pack up, she slinks across the floor to the bed and buries herself under a pillow.  We actually try to do things quietly so we don’t traumatize her so much.  Once stopped in a campsite for a few minutes she will then come out and act totally normal.  Cat’s are very weird !

The ride today was about 140 miles on route 36 west to route 29 north, all highway with lots of traffic, including many RV’s.  I was beginning to wonder why so many RV’s on the road when I saw a Nascar sign on one which triggered my memmory.  There was a Nascar race on Saturday at Kansas City and I believe it’s one of the tracks you can camp at, which I would like to do sometime, but Twinkles would hate it. 

The ride was horrible, really windy and so much traffic along that route, is Mothers Dat a big travel day ?  Anyhow, we arrived at Waubonsie State Park around noon.  They have a 3 PM checkout time here and many had not left yet, but there were many open good sites.  I believe this is our first Iowa State Park and it’s a nice one.  We have a large almost level site with electric that buttes up against the forest.  Water spigots, a show house and a dump station are close by.

Waubonsie State Park derives it's name from chief Wabaunsee meaning "Beginning of Day" of the Potawatomi tribe who resided in the area.

Chief Wabaunsee

This geology is rare and only exists here and in another area in China.  It is known as the "Loess Hills" and extends for about 200 miles in the Missouri River Valley in Iowa.  As the Glaciers passed through a deep layer of finely ground soil was left behind which blew into huge dunes, very similar to more common sand dunes.  Plants eventually took root in the soil dunes and  they are now covered with vegetation sort of hiding them from view.  However when you hike here, it soon becomes obvious with its steep ups and downs and narrow ridge lines just like sand dunes.

Route 2 is the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway

There are several hiking trails here with lots of ups and downs as this is a dune field that was sculpted by wind and erosion that is now covered by forest and grasslands.  There are several overlooks where you get an incredible panoramic view of the prairie, far below, stretching out into the distance.  These plains were originally all grasslands and the home of the Buffalo.  The soil is fertile and the settlers plows converted it to grain fields.  We did several hikes within the park that follow the dune topography both on the edge of the ridge line and in the forest.  There are many trees that we haven’t seen in a long time.

An overlook on the trail looking out onto the flat prairie lands

The trail is a narrow path with steep embankments on each side

We were surprised to find Yucca Plants blooming

These flowers were very prominent in the forest areas

The Columbine's were flowering very nicely

There was this pit house built into the hillside

A 1920's era car in the woods, it was a near impossible
place to get a car into these days

In the afternoon, I take a ride back over the nearby state line into Nebraska to Nebraska City.  Much to my surprise, I found the downtown area to be a beauty.  This is another city that had much going for it being on the Missouri River and having a rail line passing through.  Their most famous resident was J. Sterling Morton who started Arbor Day in 1872, something I remember but haven’t heard about in a long time. They do have several Orchards around town and have tree sculptures around town in various places.

Many old advertising signs repainted in town

Art sculptures around town with an arbor day theme

Another advertising sign

Several old fraternal organizations met here

Nice large mural in a downtown park area

A really nice Eagles Club neon sign

The Oregon Trail came through downtown

I love this Corn starch sign

Eli Windmills were made in town and there is a museum

I also went to the town of Hamburg a few miles from the campground which is a small farming community.  A few blocks of the original downtown buildings remain and the “Stoner Drug Store” with it’s original lunch and soda fountain area.  There are several  old buildings with beautiful stained glass windows in the upstairs, very unusual that I haven't seen anywhere else.  A few of the brick buildings have been sprayed with a thick coating that I suppose was an easy way to renew a buildings appearance, but now doesn’t look so good. 

The Colonial Theater

Interesting stained glass windows

Very ornate building metalwork

Hamburg Iowa mural

The Blue Moon Cafe beckoned but I didn't go

The Grain Elevators in Hamburg, Iowa

There was a severe storm warning last night and we had a hum dinger of a thunder storm with heavy rain, but luckily no hail.  It’s that time of year when the weather around these parts of the country gets scary.  While at the Loess Hills Visitor Center the attendant made sure I looked at the flood photos from 2011.  The Missouri River had flooded that year and everything for miles around was under water.

Our next stop is a few miles north to Omaha, Nebraska;
Twinkles and Slick  

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