The roads appeared to be rather quiet this Tuesday in early September. Just the way we like it. We allowed ourselves five days to travel 400 miles (643km). Aaahhh, this is just the pace we like to travel.
We didn’t have a reservation anywhere until the 13th, thus we were able to meander along highway 385 south into Nebraska foot loose and fancy free. I did however have one quirky little stop that had been on my radar for the past two years. Other than that, no items on the must see list.
Before we hit the road, we do like to have a general idea about where we plan on overnighting including a backup plan. Al and I are all about “backups”. The evening before our departure while hubby and I were relaxing and enjoying a couple of drink’s, we each had an atlas on our lap. As we perused our route south, hubby noticed the little green marker on the map indicating a state park with camping. Hmm, that was only twenty miles away from my must see target in Alliance, Nebraska.
Although I consider myself a planner, I do have my moments when I find it adventurous to wing it. And the next few days of travel fell into the winging it category.
Box Butte Reservoir State Park was our stop for the evening. While setting up camp near the shores of Box Butte Reservoir, the birds were chirping and the cackle of a Great Blue Heron was heard as he flew across the water. Yes, we were off to a good start!
That evening the sky was wonderfully pitch black except for a crescent moon and stars. We went to sleep to the sound of crickets and with the blinds left open. It was so incredibly peaceful having this little slice of America’s heartland to ourselves.
The next morning we woke up to the glow of the rising sun and the sound of mooing cattle in the distance. After a great rather a fantastic nights sleep, we both agreed this turned out to be such a wonderful and unexpected little find in western Nebraska. Crickets, birds, water, mooing, and stars sums up our stay here perfectly. And this is why we RV!
But what about that quirky must see stop, you ask? I’m a little old school and maintain a three-ring binder which includes a calendar, info on our reservations, and travel ideas. Oh, I have plenty of items bookmarked on my computer, but somehow I always forget to check the electronics (I did say old school, didn’t I). That three-ring binder remains my favorite source of reminders.
Tucked in amongst some other Nebraska sights to see paperwork was information on Carhenge. Turns out, the route I had chosen through Nebraska was taking us in the direction of this whimsical sight…… making it a must see.
Here’s what the Carhenge website has to say…..
The artist of this unique car sculpture, Jim Reinders, experimented with unusual and interesting artistic creations throughout his life. While living in England, he had the opportunity to study the design and purpose of Stonehenge. His desire to copy Stonehenge in physical size and placement came to fruition in the summer of 1987 with the help of many family members.
Thirty-nine automobiles were placed to assume the same proportions as Stonehenge with the circle measuring approximately 96 feet (29m) in diameter. Some autos are held upright in pits five feet deep, trunk end down, while other cars are placed to form the arches and welded in place. All are covered with gray spray paint. The honor of depicting the heel stone goes to a 1962 Caddy.
Carhenge was built as a memorial to Reinders’ father who once lived on the farm where Carhenge now stands. While relatives were gathered following the death of Reinders’ father in 1982, the discussion turned to a memorial and the idea of a Stonehenge replica was developed. The family agreed to gather in five years and build it. The clan, about 35 strong, gathered in June 1987 and went to work. According to Mr. Reinders, “It took a lot of work, sweat, and beers”.
Reinders donated the 10 acres of land where Carhenge is located to the Friends of Carhenge who have preserved it till 2013. On October 1, 2013, Friends of Carhenge gifted the site to the Citizens of Alliance.
While I was wandering the grounds with camera in hand, hubby stepped inside the Pitstop, aka gift shop, and started up a conversation with the gal manning the store. I joined the conversation mid stream and talk about a small world. We all lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the same time in the 1990’s, during the building boom, plus she was originally from Wisconsin; the same area where we visited just a few weeks earlier.
The conversation flowed freely and we discovered how she came to live in Alliance, Nebraska. The short version: Farmer from Nebraska goes to Las Vegas on vacation. Farmer meets cocktail waitress in Las Vegas. A romance ensues followed by a marriage. Cocktail waitress moves onto a farm in Nebraska and now works for the town of Alliance happily married to said farmer and loving life.
We’re always interested in the paths people choose and hearing those entertaining life stories. It was a delight visiting with her.
Along with the mimicking Stonehenge, over the years other sculptures by various artists have been added to the grounds.
While most folks stop by Carhenge and spend about ten minutes strolling around, we found ourselves hanging around this novel site well over an hour. Between the unique quirkiness of it and the engaging conversation inside the Pitstop, this was an amusing and worthwhile stop.
Technology is wonderful, but I still like having a backup in the form of a hard copy. So we keep a library of maps handy along with a daytimer that helps keep our travels organized. We don’t always have internet connection and occasionally my phone battery dies (when I least expect). Having a backup has saved our rears more than once.