Thursday, June 5, 2014


DAY FIVE: Compared to our somewhat traumatic day on Tuesday, Wednesday was fairly calm. We drove from Sioux City, IA to Casper, WY, which was a long drive made somewhat longer by the fact that I thought I had made a Motel 6 reservation online in Douglas, WY, but when we arrived in Douglas, at about 10pm, we couldn't find Motel 6. It was on a map on my iPhone - a nice little stick pin, labeled "Motel 6" was right off the highway that we were traveling on, next to a "Broken Wheel Truck Stop" which was there - we turned around in their parking lot - but where the Motel 6 was supposed to be, there was a "Budget Inn." Hmmm. I had an email confirmation for my reservation. I checked it. Uh oh! My reservation was for Motel 6 in Douglas AZ. Now how that Motel 6 in Douglas, AZ ended up as a stick pin on a map of Douglas WY - I'll let you figure that out. Anyway, we cancelled the reservation in AZ (the clerk was very gracious), and tried to find a room in Douglas WY. Nothing. Even the historic LeBonte Hotel (a former brothel, I was told), which was off the beaten path, was full. So I used the iPhone to find a place in Casper, which was almost an hour farther down the road. Luckily, we got what may have been the last non-smoking room in Casper at the National 9 Inn Showboat and arrived there at 11pm Mountain Time (midnight our time!).

But all that was AFTER the storm. We knew that bad weather lay ahead of us as we drove across Nebraska, but most of the day it was clear and sunny, beautiful, really. It wasn't clear just where the storms would be or how severe. But as we approached Chadron, NE, the sky became more and more ominous, and we decided it would be wise to stop. We pulled into a Taco John (which has good beans and rice - one of Ellen's favs), and sure enough, just as we came in, the TV up on the wall issued an storm alert, and within a few minutes the storm hit. It was awesome. We didn't get the hail that they did elsewhere - but (we learned later) the area we had just driven through along Route 20 got 70 mph gusts and 3" hail! (We had read in a newspaper we saw that day that the hail storm on Tuesday in Omaha, NE, which had involved baseball-sized hail, had seriously damaged 4300 cars at just one car dealership! Yikes!)

Within 45 minutes, it had begun to clear to the west and we had a gorgeous drive with an incredible sunset  that just went on and on, all the way to Douglas and even some vestiges of it were still in the sky as we pulled into Casper at 11pm!

The sky just as we pulled into Taco John

The western sky as we drove west of Chadron, NE

Sunset after the storm - this photo doesn't do it justice!
Our final refuge in Casper. Given the weather, maybe a boat-shaped motel is not a bad idea!

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