The Great Park Pursuit: Couples Edition

Part of our Summer plan for getting out(side) more included signing up for The Great Park Pursuit. This is a program put on by Nebraska Game and Parks to encourage people to get out and explore Nebraska's state parks and recreation sites. It's free and you can join as a team or an individual.

All you have to do is visit as many of the 20 parks selected for the given year as you can and follow the clues to the marker, make an etching of the clue-pad and mail them in for chances to win prizes.


Mr. Loggerhead and I had a day to ourselves while the kids were at my mom's recently. It was the perfect time to kick off our park visits and do some roaming on this prairie we love. So we packed some water bottles, my camera and drove the hour or so to Rock Creek Station.

I had been there years ago with my family but had forgotten just how cool this place really is. Probably because I was a lot more interested in playing pioneer women with my sister and cousin Emily than in the unique history of the station.

It's quite the story, McCanles, an oily car-salesman-type person (in my mind), running a stage station, supply stop and toll bridge there at Rock Creek. He was quite the business man and there are outrageous tidbits to be told of his exploits. One tells of a man who, when asking to see the toll-bridge charter because he thought the price was too high, was shown a shotgun and told that was the charter.

Welcome to the prairie.

The tales get wilder when John Hickok (aka Wild Bill) comes into the picture and it is still unknown exactly what happened the night McCanles went to collect the rent from Hickok, but McCanles ended up dead and Hickok ended up with a fancy reputation as a gunfighter.

And some people think Nebraska is boring.


We walked the trails, holding hands and enjoying the afternoon and each-other.

There are a beautiful variety of native wildflowers growing along the paths this time of year. Some are marked with little signs telling their scientific names.

Those scientific names were slightly different than what my husband grew up calling these plants. It was hard not to be amused by his expressions and occasional outbursts of laughter as he noted these beautiful flowers. It's hard to tell a boy raised on the Prairie that the things he fought to keep from his mother's garden and his father's fields are flowers not weeds.

I love this prairie.
I see the beauty in the ditch-weeds.

I'd like to think of myself as a prairie cornflower, surviving through droughts, toughing out storms, adding beauty to ordinary places...

But after seeing these pictures of myself frog-hopping my way into the grass, dark sun-circles under my eyes, I conclude I am more of an plain-ole black-eyed Susan.

And that's OK.
I'm just glad to be here.


It's hard to stand in the doorways of these places and not imagine what it was like to live in them. 

What was it like to look out and see no signs of further civilization anywhere? 
How did poor Mrs. McCanles feel when her husband was carried home dead? 
How did she comfort their 11 year old son who witnessed the fight?

Where did these prairie women get their strength and resilience?

I could learn some from their simplicity.

I can relate to their single-minded purpose to love and care for their children no matter what the trials.


Rock Creek Station was also a Pony Express Station and  it is hard to imagine a time when correspondence with people in other places was so limited.

 It reminds a person to be thankful for the ease of talking to your mother on the phone, texting your sister, seeing pictures of friends on facebook and connecting with kindred spirits through blogland. 

While we were taking our little walk through time past, this little group was forming outside. The air of  anticipation was thick as flies on, on, well never-mind on what. We inquired about the occasion and found out we were in for a treat.

The National Pony Express Association  does a yearly reenactment of a traditional Pony Express mail route from San Francisco, California to St. Joseph, Missouri. This huge feat includes over 600 riders and horses and takes ten days to make the 1,966 mile trip. Commemorative letters are carried by the riders just as they would have been when the original Pony Express was in action.

The participating riders' ages range across generations and this young man was the one prepared to take the mail on from Rock Creek Station into Kansas. Talking to some of the older ones who've been doing this for many years, you can hear the thrill in their voices when they mention younger people taking an interest and getting involved.

This gentleman was kind enough to answer our questions and share some tales from the trail. He and his grandchildren ride together these days and his pride is evident. {Thank you, Lyle}

He told us that in the over 30 years they have been doing the re-run that the mail has never been more than a few minutes late, even with all those riders and the countless stops and switches.

That's amazing.

As we stood there, the sound of pounding hoofs could suddenly be heard over the bridge, there she came, the expected rider. She was off her horse, the mail-bags switched and the young man was mounted and setting off at a gallop before you could hardly take it in.

And it was over for Rock Creek Station this year.


We were off too. Time to find some lunch and our second park for the day.

Filled with authentic Mexican food (to-die-for-yum), we made our way to Tuxedo park in Crete, NE. This is a park with more of a sport and fitness feel. I found myself thinking how much fun the kids would have playing there.

We found the clue and walked around the picnic area.

My husband laughed when I said I wanted to live in this funny little hexagon shaped house, accent on the little part. 

The day was waning and we were getting that mid-afternoon drowsy and slow feeling so soon were on our way again with just a bit more driving and adventuring to do.


In Nebraska we don't have covered bridges, we have these stoic, rusty-steel characters. I'm pretty crazy about these guys and am always grabbing for my camera when we find a good one.

This is what the Nebraska sky looks like from a Nebraska bridge.

This is what a Nebraska boy looks like when his wife lies down on the Nebraska ground to take a picture of the Nebraska sky on the Nebraska bridge.

That Jack built.

OK, maybe no Jack, but I'm thankful for the God who made the prairie.

I'm thankful for the pioneers who followed their hearts (and their husbands) West.

I'm thankful for the people who live here now.
I'm thankful for a husband who take my whims seriously but not too seriously.

Mr. Loggerhead,
You are my compass on an unfamiliar country road. You are the blessed beauty around the corner of my day. You are the flower in my ditch-weeds. You are a grand story to be told and a sweet word to be whispered. You are my bridge, my home and my heart.

I love you.

Parked on the Prairie in NE


  1. Lovely day! And what a fascinating experience to be able to see the hand off, what luck!

  2. For all the love you hold in your heart for the praire, I hold the same for the mountains. HOWEVER, I learned to find the beauty in all around me(had to with all of our moves), and the more, and more I read your post, the more, and more I am certain that I must visit the great state of NE someday! Love how much you love your land!

  3. I grew up near Rock Creek Station. A neat story from the past and neat to experience. When I was growing up there was a rope bridge (swinging bridge) that was fun.


Thank you for stopping by. Your comments make me smile.