What Happened to Nebraska?

Instead of the balmy east coast summer we’d expected halfway through our second circumnavigation of the U.S. we’d endured gales and torrential rain from Maine to Delaware.

After a serendipitous trip to the grocery store for dinner fixings and wine, we found ourselves marooned within half an hour of our return as rain lashed down and filled in a moat around us at the Cape Cod Seashore.

Cape Cod Bay, taken from the warmth of the car. Note the heavy sky.
Cape Cod Bay, taken from the warmth of the car. Note the heavy sky.

The de-humidifier, my special spaghetti and meatballs and a bottle of red wine kept us from caring too much.

Summer turned to autumn while we were in England and on our return we just caught the end of the leaf show on a trip through the Smokies; only a few tenacious leaves had clung to the trees for us. The rest made a carpet of gold for our drive from Nashville to North Carolina.

The southeast coast was unbearably humid for two people used to the weather of a northerly latitude on a par with Calgary. Thanksgiving in Fort Lauderdale was uncharacteristically muggy, as were the Keys where one felt wrapped in a warm wet cloth each time we stepped from our cool trailer cocoon.

Views from our idyllic but sweaty campsite:

Evenings ‘round the campfire on Long Key, which we felt were compulsory on our sublime beach front setting, became an endurance test. Covered from head to foot and slathered with insect repellant against the sand flies, we steamed as though in a sauna in the stifling night air.

“I don’t think I can stand this!” himself exclaimed on emerging from the air conditioning in full bug-proof regalia.

“I’ve already lit the fire,” I wined.

“This is ridiculous.”

“Go back in then.”

“No. I’m here now.” The seductive flames were already leaping and I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist sitting and staring at them. Our bodies would slowly warm up, become clammy and acclimatize.

Lighting a campfire in the sultry heat of the Keys was ludicrous, but bites and sweat apart, the night sky, the low rumble of the surf and a backdrop of firelight reflected on the ocean was enchanting. Shooting stars, satellites and one sighting of the Hubble were our entertainment,

“There’s one!”


“There! There!” until the sand flies penetrated our defenses and we dived into the cool depths of the trailer.

From the time it took us to get from Key West to Destin on the Panhandle, the temperature plummeted and in “tropical” Florida the iguanas, torpid with the freeze were dropping out of the trees like they’d been shot. They weren’t dead. Apparently they’d come round and amble off once the weather warmed up.

Gulf coast at Destin, Florida. Looks warm. Wasn't!
Gulf coast at Destin, Florida. Looks warm. Wasn’t!

We shivered through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. Tumbleweeds hopped around our fenced in campsite all night at Amarillo, with one giant tumbleweed landing at our door in the morning. Like daft tourists we each posed next to it, shivering, for a photo.

It was at this point that we’d planned to include Nebraska in our tour and see the sandhill cranes at the Rowe Sanctuary on their migration north but atypical cold and snow kept us on a more southerly route.

We were only 500 miles away. Good decision? There was more disagreeable weather to come.

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35 thoughts on “What Happened to Nebraska?

  1. The photos of the Keys are beautiful, usually winters in South Florida are much nicer, and Key West tends to have more temperate weather than the rest. Of course, you’re hearing this from and Island Girl 🙂


  2. Oh yes, it has definitely been a chilly winter for Florida — but it does help to knock back the bug population! Love the photo of you with your friend the tumbleweed. It looks as though you are traveling in a trailer about the same size as ours? We’re in a 21′ Bigfoot, and don’t encounter too many others traveling full time in such small quarters. 🙂


    1. We are 26 feet and usually feel quite overwhelmed by big RVs on campsites, except for State Parks which for the most part the big rigs can’t access. You two are even more in each other’s pockets than us!


  3. Having grown up in the midwest, I don’t think I would make a great deal of effort to visit one state in the middle of the country I had missed. I say stay west! 😉


  4. Your reaction to the east coast is why we love the west and are returning in just a couple of months. I live just fine without the humidity, noseeums, and mosquitoes!! I lived for 15 months without a bug bite then…we return east!! I have at least ten bites at any given time. We carry paper towels ALWAYS! Constant wiping of sweat. Not fun!

    Love the sunset photos!!!


    1. I grew up on the east coast with humidity but I seem to have lost my tolerance for it. As for himself, he’s a regular bug magnet. It keeps them away from me, whichI find funny. He does not. 😯


  5. So the biting cold was the excuse not to proceed to Nebraska !
    If you are still interested in viewing Sandhill Cranes by the thousands and if you are still in AZ, then a drive to Whitewater Draw in AZ should be in your schedule. Viewing is FREE! and you can boondocks there too. And you will really be beholden by the Sandhill Cranes and other birds, lots of them.


  6. Those photos are stunning! I don’t envy you the humidity, though maybe I could put up with it to gaze upon those sunsets! When I road tripped across the US many moons ago, my then boyfriend and I woke up in our tent at Lake Tahoe to find we had been snowed upon in the night and the zippers were actually frozen shut – gives new meaning to the word snowed in, though it was surprisingly cosy!


    1. So what would be worse, being frozen into your tent or trying to sleep in a tropically humid tent? I’m a sissy. I wouldn’t like either. Thanks for the photo compliment! 🙂


  7. Yes I can attest to the humidity in Calgary being non existent. Coming back from a humid climate my skin bears a striking resemblance to that of a salamander. Definitely an adjustment when changing locations isn’t it?


  8. I’m beginning to rethink the panhandle in mid winter as I’ve heard it’s not as balmy as one might think. We befriended folks here at the RV Park from Iowa with family in NE and we discussed the migrating sandhills. As much as I love cranes, I just can’t see making any special trip to NE especially after the dozen plus times we’ve driven through that state….. snore!


    1. Ingrid, given our experience in the panhandle this winter and others who live in the area telling us it is seldom warm there this time of year, I would not head there seeking warmth.


  9. Well, this is what Dave Barry had to say: “But Nebraska was not always a bed of roses. When the first settlers arrived, they found a harsh, unforgiving place, a vast treeless expanse of barren, drought-parched soil. And so, summoning up the dynamic pioneer spirit of hope and steely determination, they left. But a few of them remained and built sod houses, which are actually made of dirt. Think about that. You can’t clean a sod house, because it would be gone. The early settlers had a hell of a time getting this through to their children. “You kids stop tracking dirt out of the house!” they’d yell.” That says enough for me.


    1. I am given to understand it is still “a vast treeless expanse of barren, drought-parched soil.” I just wanted to see the sandhill crane migration. I saw a few in Florida. That will have to do.


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