After Tuesday’s definitively Clark day, Wednesday was another Meriwether Lewis day. And merry weather it was (c’mon, you knew that was coming eventually – better get it out of the way sooner than later).
Under cloudless skies I crossed into Nebraska, the third state of the trip (keeping up?) over a spectacular road bridge that was also very narrow and thus required concentration.
Now, when I’ve mentioned Nebraska to American friends they’ve been largely disparaging. I can imagine that the western…oh, four-fifths of the state might be a bit dull. But this segment that hugs the Missouri is rather beautiful. And green. Very green. Yes, it’s agricultural, but the undulating topography creates some extremely pleasing views and some big-dipper roads.
I had a brief stop in Falls City, which fell short on coffee but was big on atmosphere.
Then, after another lengthy detour due to road closures, I made it to Indian Cave State Park. It won’t surprise you to learn that its main attraction is a cave. It’s quite a large park, with several campgrounds.
I did a short but strenuous Lewis-style hike through the hickory woods that cover the bluffs of the river. Alongside ample bugs and flies, there were also large numbers of butterflies and a frog. Mad dogs and Englishmen of course go out in the midday sun, but the midday humidity was what was doing for me. I slogged up to a lookout point. It was worth the effort.
As the information boards were at pains to explain, the course of the river has been altered significantly since Lewis & Clark’s day. Dams, canalization, energy projects and a desire to minimize the flood risk have all led to major changes to the river’s course, which originally was more sprawling (this may not be the correct hydrological term) with multiple channels that could shift from year to year.
This alteration also explains why L&C didn’t mention the cave. They definitely camped in this area, but the the overhanging rock that gives the park its name was more than a mile from the river back then. Today it’s less than 100 metres and has been rather ruined by a boardwalk, steps, and fence, which I guess hinders people from making their own ‘engravings’ alongside the original 1200-year-old petroglyphs. There are identifiable bison and a few other animal shapes. The cave offered shelter and was also believed to have been used as a gathering place. Next stop Nebraska City (pictured here in the evening rush hour).