July 4th

Last time, I discussed the first day of my trip through Eastern Nebraska with 8601.  We finished with us setting up camp in Niobrara State Park after a lengthy drive from Omaha.  Now, we are going to start the next day of our trip with everyone’s favorite camping accessory…rain.

We woke up around 8:00 AM, with plans to pack up and hit the road.  We hoped to make it either to Calamus Reservoir or Sherman Reservoir as our next camping spot.  I woke up right as 8601 was getting ready to leave the tent.  Exchanging a few words, he prepared to open the entrance when we heard it.  Drops of rain hitting the rain flap.  At first, it sounded light.  Then it picked up a bit.  WIthin a few moments, we had a light drizzle, though it sounded like a bit more than that.  We decided that we didn’t want to wait it out and it wasn’t bad enough that we couldn’t pack.  So he got out and took stuff to the car while I changed and prepared to leave the tent myself.

Outside, we worked through some light rain.  Only one annoying part.  Right as we got ready to wipe down the tent using the shirts we wore the day before, the rain decided to let up.  Within a few minutes, it was over.  In all, it lasted maybe ten minutes.  Don’t get me wrong, ten minutes of light rain is a lot better than ten minutes of downpours, but we would have liked no rain.

After packing, and stopping in a few parts in the park for photos, we headed out.  First we went a few miles back to Niobrara to grab some caches, then we headed West on HWY 12.  Our first stop was in Verdel.  We got there and pulled over next to the cache.  By this point, we had done several L&C caches along the Shannon Trail, so we knew roughly what to look for.  A few minutes later, the nearby shop owner came out to inform us that the cache was gone.  Not only gone, but that business doesn’t participate in the Shannon Trail anymore because of some problems it had with oversight of the trail.  It was too bad, but we exchanged some words and promised him to post a note that the cache needs to be archived.  He had visited with various cachers since last October about this, but it was still active. 

We contined West until we hit Keya Paha County.  This was our problem county.  On our route, there was only one cache that we could grab. Niobrara Crossing was located on HWY 137 on the North side of the Niobrara River, only 500 feet from the county line at best. We needed to find this cache. However, when we got there, we seemed to have problems finding the “sticky micro” that was supposed to be there. We weren’t alone either. Others had had problems too. But, we remained diligent, checking every spot within 50 feet, above and below the bridge. We sat down and tried thinking and discussing every piece of info we had on it from the description to past logs. Then, while 8601 was walking around, he said something. I happened to be looking in a direction and saw something. I tried what I was thinking, and suddenly found the cache. We smacked our heads over how easy it was, but it was well hidden. Signing the log, we continued South to HWY 20.

Heading West, we visited what could be the first rest area in Nebraska, picked up several other caches, then made it to Ainsworth. Now we had several puzzles we had been working on before the trip, and one I worked on during the trip. Some of them were in Ainsworth. One of them 8601 solved already, but one he didn’t have enough time and I started on it that morning. It was Stonefield Sudoku. I had solved it earlier, but realized that I had made a mistake when two numbers didn’t come out as they should. The were the numbers in the degrees part of the coordinates, but we worried that if they were off, other numbers could be off too. So I redrew the puzzle and started over. In the end, I had two numbers switched, so we were right the first time. I finished just before we reached Ainsworth. Finding that cache first, we grabbed a bit to eat then went after several others before heading South to Brewster.

Here is where the fun began. Up until the point, we had a pretty straight route. But once we hit Brewster, we had to travel a back and forth route to make sure we hit everything. This meant going from Brewster to Burwell to Calamus Reservoir to Ord to a spot just a bit north of Ansley to Sherman Reservoir. We easily added 100-150 because of this route, but if we didn’t do it, we would find ourselves going down, over, and back up to Burwell, and probably adding the same amount. It was a flip of the coin, and this one came up the winner.

At Calamus, we skipped several caches all clumped together when we read the descriptions and realized that if we went after them, we would likely be camping there that night considering the amount of time it would take to find them. Each listed allotting up to an hour for hiking. We decided to skip those to save time. Grabbing one other cache at Calamus to add that Delorme Map to our list, we headed South to Ord. We picked up several caches there, seeing a nice park in the process. Heading South and around to HWY 183, we hit our first major disaster cache. The Hill was a cache located, of all places, on a hill. It wasn’t a simple walk either as the hill is a bit steeper. Not the worst hike I’ve made for a cache, but when we got there, we found a container that was in the worst shape I’ve ever seen. The log actually started breaking apart on touch. We drained it, placed it upside down, and made a note to contact the owner about it.

Continueing on, we each gained an FTF as we made it to Ansley. We arrived there while celebrations were going on. This was promptly reinforced as we went after a cache on the South end of town when a large collection of cars began passing by as they left town. Signing the log, we left town ourselves, heading East to Sherman Reservoir.

When we got to Loup City, it was late enough that we decided to leave the caches in town for the morning and go set up camp. We went to Sherman Reservoir, a large reservoir with lots of listed campsites just Northeast of town. Arriving at the first campsite, we found it was full. So we moved on to the next one, discovering the entrance was right next to a third campground. On a whim we tried the third one and found that while it had a lot of cars, it definitely had space. So we parked and walked around, trying to find a level spot to set up the tent. Eventually, after walking around, we found a spot on what looked like a hill. The ground was slanted, but had moments of flatness that would allow us to camp without fear of waking up crouched up against one side of the tent. I took a phone call from a friend for a while right as we finished putting the tent up, and 8601 went to bed. I joined the race for sleep soon after, taking little time to fall asleep.

Next, we’ll take a look at the last day, including one visit from an officer, one potential visit from an officer, a late night pict-o-cache, and a cache that everyone should try. I’ll also explain how picking a campsite at night can have some funny results in the morning after you can fully see the surroundings.

But for now, I have to get online and start planning for tomorrow. I just arrived in Louisville, Kentucky and would like to see what I can find out here. Maybe even add Indiana to my list of cached states. Good night.


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