So, why were we in Alliance overnight?
The locals had guessed. "You're going to Carhenge, right?"
Oh yes. We couldn't come so far and not visit this crazy, funny place and yes, we agreed with most of our fellow countrymen who visit the site, it is indeed way more fun than the real thing.
And there amongst the "sideshow" was something right on the button for our 2018 Road Trip: the Carnestoga Wagon, a tribute to the pioneers who'd travelled this way.
Off we went, travelling north from Alliance, heading towards the first stop of the day.
I'd have been a little more enthusiastic had I seen this sign first.
As it was, this was the name of the first stop of the day and I wasn't so sure. I was reassured it had great Trip Advisor reviews and thought that, as always, I'd find something to interest me in there.
It didn't take long! No sooner had I gone beyond the first displays and found a room with blankets and other textiles which had been traded for the furs the trappers up here had produced, I had found something to pique my interest. Did you spot it in the description above?
I already "knew" that the red stripe in the Hudsons Bay blanket was originally woven from wool dyed in Stroud, because that particular shade of (highly prized) red was a speciality from "Stroudwater". I knew that there was a "Stroudwater Blue" as well and I wondered if the museum curator had any further information.
"There's a book here somewhere" he said.
How funny. Here we were in the wilds of Nebraska, in a Fur Traders museum so far away and the answer to my question is possibly to be found in a book which is on our own bookshelves at home. Or not. Actually, there was a larger, more comprehensive ($600) book about textiles which referred to the particular red and "Stroudwater Blew" that the French traders simply could not produce, so perhaps we were almost there. Fun, anyway, to talk about it and to chat about it all with the chap in the museum.
It wasn't the only thing of interest, though. These woven sashes were "fingerwoven" in French Canada and were very fine indeed.
Each was about 6 or 8 inches wide and a couple of yards long and quite how anyone might "finger weave" such a piece, I have no idea. Apparently it began a revival of the craft in that part of Canada, which I need to follow up with my French-Canadian textile friend - Hello Nadine!!
I could have spent much longer in there - who'd have thought it?! But it was time to move on, because we still had a long way to go and many things on our list.
When the signpost to another historical marker appeared on the roadside, we did as we always do and pulled into the layby and jumped out of the car to see what it was all about.
I think that, at this point on the US highway 20 between Chadron and Crawford, we all fell totally in love with the Nebraska high prairie. The sun was shining, we were beneath a storybook sky and the soft breeze was blowing fresh air from who knows where. We breathed the peace of it all in and stood looking around us at such a magnificent landscape, there were no words. That north-west corner of the state, a hop from the border with South Dakota and Wyoming was the perfect place to be this morning!
We reluctantly got back into the car and set off again, to turn left onto the 29 and head for the Agate Fossil Beds.
All road trips should be like this.
The Agate Beds turned out to be the location of sigificant fossil finds and actually nothing to do with "agate" at all.
As always, the National Park had knowledgeable and cheerful Rangers on hand to inspire and answer questions.
So although I can't say the bones of early mammals ever really float my boat, the Indian beadwork most certainly did.
And the magnificent landscape was always there, just outside the window.
Two local youngsters were working in the centre for the Summer, one of whom had grown up on the ranch nearby. The Ranger suggested we take one of her family's fine Angus cattle as a souvenir...
But which would be harder - getting it though Customs or catching it in the first place?!
There remained one must-do before we called it a day as we turned right onto the US26 and rejoined the Oregon Trail. Our destination for the night was to be Guernsey, where there were some ruts. Not any old ruts, but the most spectacular ruts that we'd seen Ray Mears explore on the TV programme that had inspired this amazing trip.
Oh, and somewhere along here, we crossed into Wyoming.
We parked the car and followed the pathway up a slope towards a viewpoint.
Well, I did say "spectacular" didn't I? Good grief, these ruts were cut into the stone.
All over this area were more ruts to see - amazing.
Just below the hill was the grave of Lucindy Rollins in a peaceful spot above the Platte River.
A short distance away was the last stop of the day: Register Cliff
Travellers passing by had stopped to carve their names into the rock and I imagined there wouldn't be any original names left.
Surely, they'd have been overwritten by others since then? How might we tell if they were original or not, anyway?
Well, around the corner was a fenced off, protected area, where the names and the script had a feel of authenticity, I thought.
So let's give L.N. Breed the benefit of the doubt and imagine that he passed this way 160 years ago, shall we? I hope he made it! (might this possibly be him?)
After so much excitement, we wasted no time in checking into our hotel in Guernsey and heading straight out to dinner. Slim pickings here with no real choice of where to eat, so we joined the other locals in Ben's, downtown. Not our usual kind of place, but the food and beer was great and the atmosphere warm and friendly. What more could we ask for?