Monday, February 20, 2012

UPRR License Plates for Nebraska

Nebraska has somewhat of an identity crisis when it comes to our license plates. Toying over the years with the outline of the state, stark generic block letters and numbers, icons such as the state capital, chimney rock, covered wagons the Goldenrod and the Meadowlark, our license plates are in a seemingly constant state of flux.

You might remember the minor scandal a couple of years ago when three designs were put up to a public vote. The folks over at rallied the vote for the ugliest plate on offer, a fact that the Nebraska DMV vehemently denied. That is, until they quietly began production of the second-highest vote-getting plate.

Now, we find that Union Pacific has lobbied for a specialty plate bearing the image of a locomotive. With nearly 8,000 UP employees and a payroll of more than $800 million, 1,068 miles of track and a recent announcement of an investment of $1 billion in infrastructure, Nebraska should be proud to help celebrate UP's 150th anniversary with this license plate.

Omaha, Neb., February 17, 2012 – In conjunction with Union Pacific Railroad's 150th anniversary this year, the Friends of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum is sponsoring a specialty license plate for Nebraska residents.Union Pacific License Plate

"The Friends of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum Board and all who work or volunteer at the museum are proud to be a part of Union Pacific's 150th anniversary celebration, " said Carl Heinrich, Friends of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum Board President. "Union Pacific is integral to America's history, providing the connection from east to west that helped build this great nation. The Friends organization is passionate about preserving the railroad's legacy and tell Union Pacific's story to thousands of visitors each year."

The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles will begin producing the specialty plates once 500 applications are submitted. The plates cannot be personalized and cost $70.

Union Pacific employees are being offered the opportunity to purchase the specialty plates starting February 17 through February 29, 2012. Once the 500 applications have been submitted to the DMV, the UP specialty plates will be offered on the DMV website.

About Union Pacific

It was 150 years ago that Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of July 1, 1862, creating the original Union Pacific. One of America's iconic companies, today, Union Pacific Railroad is the principal operating company of Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP), linking 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country by rail and providing freight solutions and logistics expertise to the global supply chain. From 2000 through 2011, Union Pacific spent more than $31 billion on its network and operations, making needed investments in America's infrastructure and enhancing its ability to provide safe, reliable, fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible freight transportation. Union Pacific's diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Energy, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad serves many of the fastest-growing U.S. population centers and emphasizes excellent customer service.

North Platte's Railroad Ties

As home to Union Pacific's Bailey Yard, the largest railroad classification yard in the world, North Platte has a long association with the Union Pacific Railroad and has always been known as a railroad town. The Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center, an 8-story tower that overlooks the yard operation, the Cody Park Railroad Display that exhibits a 6900 series Diesel Locomotive and the only Challenger Steam Engine on static public display and the North Platte Rail Fest held in North Platte annually in September are examples of how North Platte celebrates its railroad heritage. Make plans to visit North Platte to see for yourself what makes North Platte Rail Town USA.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hedge Trees

On a road somewhere south of Paxton (I think it was Road E W-S or Road E V-S. I can't understand the road-naming system in Keith County), there is a row of Hedge trees planted along the road. It's winter, so naturally the trees weren't very pretty, but I hadn't previously known that Hedge trees could grow in Nebraska.

Hedge or Osage Orange, is a native of Texas bu can now be found across the Great Plains because it was frequently planted to provide living fences. They grow quickly, can be pruned to grow very densely, are very hardy and long-lived, plus they have sharp spines! Good qualities for any fence.

Besides the living hedgerows, posts made from Osage Orange last seemingly forever! If you're ever driving in the Sandhills and come across a pig-tight, horse-high, bull-strong barbed wire fence made of spindly, crooked posts, you're seeing Hedge posts. (for you purists, most barbed-wire fences aren't horse-high.) Some of these posts date back into the early to mid decades of the 20th century when the fences were first installed.
Hedge trees bear fruit, commonly called Hedge Balls or Hedge Apples among other names. Squirrels love the seeds they contain, and they are edible, but the fruit that surrounds them is much too difficult to remove to make eating the seeds worthwhile - unless you indeed are a squirrel. The balls in this picture are old and dried up - but when squished still ooze a sticky white liquid. Old wives tales hold that Hedge Balls placed throughout the house will repel insects, and you can often find them for sale in local grocery stores, but I haven't found it to be true.

You never know what you're going to find on a road trip through the Nebraska country side. You just have to get out there, and keep your eyes open!

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sandhills Morning

Sunday morning promised to be clear and cold. At 6:30 after checking all of my social media outlets, I looked to the lightening sky in the east and decided to brave the cold for a photographic road trip.Sunrise found me parked by the side of Prairie Trace Road about ten miles north of Sutherland. A small cloud bank in the east obscured the sun briefly, but it soon broke through.
Nearer to the Birdwood Creek, the hoarfrost had developed spectacularly on the fences and roadside grasses. Until I stopped and looked closely, I had no idea how beautiful each individual "leaf" of frost was.
It is amazing to me how this beauty can develop overnight.
So beautiful and so delicate. And so easily missed as we speed right on past.
Further north, I reached my original destination, the valley of the Birdwood Creek. The beauty exceeded my expectations, as a heavy mist was rising from the stream and had settled into the valley.
The early morning sun reflecting off of the mist and the newly-fallen snow and sparkling in the hoarfrost coating the grasses made it a magical sight.
I headed back to the valley, then took North River Road to Birdwood Road and back north again, this time on gravel roads. The plows hadn't been through here, but enough traffic had broken through the drifts and packed down the snow that I had no trouble. About five miles north I came to the valley of the Birdwood, this time from a different vantage point.
Along the way I passed temporary corrals used to load out the calves in the fall built in a pasture. The snow had drifted very prettily through the boards.
This winter has almost been the one that wasn't, but I'm glad we got at least one heavy snow fall so we can enjoy all of the seasons.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee's always on.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Identity Crisis

I couldn't decide whether to title this post "Identity Crisis" or "Inferiority Complex". Either way, many Nebraskans suffer from it. Except possibly in the area of Cornhusker football. We've believed for so long that "there's nothing to do here" that we can't possibly imagine anything we have that people would actually want to come visit for.

The Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism recently hosted the annual Agri/Eco Tourism workshop in North Platte (we'll be playing host again in 2013 on February 5 & 6). During Governor Heineman's welcome remarks at the opening luncheon, he mentioned the same thing. Many of us are our state's own worst enemy. Tourism is Nebraska's third largest industry (behind agriculture and manufacturing), and yet the stories we (residents and ex-pats alike) tell are about how we couldn't wait to get out of here as kids and there's nothing to do here now, and even *gasp* how much we hate it. (OK, I'll admit that I don't hear that last much in the circles I run in, but I hear stories about it being said.)
Whether you've just stumbled upon this blog or you've been a regular reader, you know that I don't suffer from an identity crisis OR an inferiority complex. I think Nebraska is the best state their is, from our well-managed government (except for the whole child-welfare fiasco, but surely our common sense will remedy that soon), to our low unemployment to the wonderful diversity in our landscape, our wide open spaces and our friendly people.

Here are a couple examples of previous blog posts:
Burwell and the Calamus Outfitters
Fort Hartsuff
Tanking in Nebraska
The beautiful Garfield Table
A visit to Omaha

I could go on and on... and on and on. No matter where you turn, there is something amazing about Nebraska, and I intend to showcase tidbits of it here until the whole world knows.

If you're an ex-pat, repeat after me: I may live in (fill in your city of residence), but I'm FROM Nebraska! (feel free to ad-lib here about being proud of it, and it being the best place on earth).

If you live here, just smile and start listing everything great about calling Nebraska home. You'll find yourself going on and on.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nebraska Seasons 2012

I am embarrassed that I only posted twice in January. Thank goodness it wasn't on my New Years resolution list to post more often - I would be disappointed to think that I had broken it already.

However, I do hereby resolve to post more! At least more than twice a month... which should easily be doable.

I have found a wonderful new vantage point for my "Through The Seasons" posts for 2012. Yes, I know I got sidetracked and didn't keep up with it in 2011, but with this beautiful new scene, I am very motivated to make it back there once a month.
This photo was taken at 9:00am CT on Birdwood Road looking south into the valley of the Birdwood creek.

Because of the weekend snow, it is difficult to make out the contours of the land and the variety of fauna - roadside grasses, prairie, trees, cornfield and marsh. However, as I continue with the monthly photographs, the beauty of this location should become apparent.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee's always on, and after a foray into the freezing morning to get this photograph it is absolutely essential!