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Denver, CO
Miles Today: 0
Total Miles: 10,816.0
Days on the Road: 153
It's so... nothing, it's really something.
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You Little People Of Carhenge
N 39°53.792 W 105°02.237
Thursday, July 3, 2003 - Day 153

Our recent route toward northwestern Nebraska was a pilgrimage to Carhenge, which, after our 20 minute stop there, we're pretty sure was worth the 100-plus mile detour. Aside from the way these towering stacks of gray-painted cars replicate the scale, proportion and design of Stonehenge, the other impressive fact about this site is wrapped up in a David and Goliath story about how the locals defeated the state authorities who attempted to shut it down. As the story goes, soon after this tribute -- both to England's enigmatic rock formation and to the artist's recently deceased father -- was unveiled, the state quickly declared it a junk yard and ordered it be dismantled and removed. The nearby city of Alliance skirted the law by redrawing their city lines to include Carhenge, thereby avoiding enforcement of the state's order. If you can't sympathize with the unorthodox artistic expression that is this structure of cars, than at least you can admire the ingenuity of some locals who let no tourist opportunity go unexploited. By one count, Carhenge draws about 50,000 camera-toting road trippers to this couldn't-be-more-out-of-the-way farm town every year.

From Carhenge we drove about 60 miles north to the often bypassed (except by those who somehow find their way onto this lesser traveled county road outside of Chadron, NE), but well worth the $2.50 admission, Museum of the Fur Trade. Although it was a humble and quickly toured display of fur trapping, trading and fashioning, the exhibit did include a few covetable items such as Eskimo sunglasses and jack-boot style ladies moccasins. The museum showcased three different styles of your less-than-typical snow-dwellers shades - well, I guess they were typical at some point, which would be the whole point of the exhibit. We shamefully took no photos, so you'll have to use your imagination here. The first pair was like a wrap-around model carved from wood and with a narrow slit through the middle for visibility. The second pair had a similar wrapping style and eye crack, except it was carved from what appeared to be bone. The third pair, which was the most technically advanced and evidently inspired by the previous designs, featured two separate "lenses" fashioned from semi-transparent shells and a leather strap for easy no-slip attachment to the head. They were stylish and glossy and would have gone fabulously with the diaphanous Inuit rain jacket craftily sewn from seal intestines in the adjoining case. Put that together with the knee-high moccasins and you've got Bjork's next album cover.

Our final history stop before pointing the van toward Denver (where we'll spend Independence Day and probably a few weeks after that with Liz's sister and brother-in-law) was at Scotts Bluff, a natural marker that signaled to emigrants traveling the Oregon Trail that they were one-third of the way there. We'll leave you with this exchange overheard in front of the buffalo hide exhibit at the museum. Keep in mind that these folks are white.

Mother: Hey Danny, I think this'll answer your question.
(Boy, about age nine, wanders over.)
Mother (reading aloud): "The buffalo were hunted to near extinction and no longer roam wild on the American plains."
Boy: (Silence)
Mother: So there aren't any more wild buffalo.
Boy: You mean in the whole...in all of America?
Mother: Well, there are still a few buffalo left but they live on farms. People take care of them. They don't live in the wild anymore.
Boy (glances around at nearby paintings of white buffalo hunters): It's all because of them. The white man. It's all their fault.
Mother: (Silence)
Boy: It makes me so, (huff, huff)...mad.

It's so, like, funny. See the horsepower in front?

The Fourd (Get it?) Seasons

I can see the earth is curvy. What the hell were those people thinking?
more photos in the archives »

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