Nebraska is underrated as a state.
I’ve felt that way since I came here from the East Coast for the first time over 30 years ago, and nothing since has changed my mind — including a trip to the Teton Range and Devils Tower in Wyoming this past week.
Don’t get me wrong: Those are magnificent places that are well worth visiting. If you haven’t been there, you should definitely go.
My husband and I drove to Wyoming and met my stepmother, Ingrid, in Jackson; she flew there from Florida. Our joint vacation came about because my stepmother wanted to fulfill one of my father’s last wishes — to see the Teton mountains.
My father became too sick to travel and then passed away before the trip could take place. Ingrid wanted to make the journey in memoriam.
My husband and I drove (technically, my husband drove and I slept) to Jackson via Devils Tower, which my husband had always wanted to see. Honestly, Devils Tower had never been on my bucket list as it just looked like an exceptionally large piece of rock to me. I’m glad my husband has better sense than I do (please don’t tell him I admitted this!).
Walking around the grounds and seeing in person the varied sides of this amazing geological formation is so much different than looking at a picture of it on the internet. Native Americans consider Devils Tower to be sacred, and it is easy to understand why when you are in its presence and can feel its spirituality.
The Teton Range was equally breathtaking. We took a boat ride across Jenny Lake, and an engaging guide offered details about the area.
Some clouds obstructed a perfect view of the mountain peaks. Still, the scenery was incredible, and that day offered the best weather of our vacation.
The weather forecasters had called for 100% rain all day the next day, and, unfortunately, they called it correctly this time. (Before we left to go to Wyoming, my husband joked — at least, I think he was joking — that we would look for some property for sale in a place where it didn’t rain all the time.)
Jackson offered plenty to do, though. We went to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which was more of a gallery than a museum and worth going to see even on a sunny day; and then we did the typically touristy things, such as taking pictures in front of the elk-horn arches on the corners of the downtown square, sitting on the saddle barstools in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, and checking out all of the Jackson Hole–themed merchandise and huckleberry products.
The last day of our stay, it thankfully stopped raining, although it was a chilly 45 degrees.
We drove to Teton Pass, which divides Wyoming and Idaho.
At its peak, the temperature dropped 13 degrees, and we suddenly entered a new season — the one where my husband got to throw snowballs at me (he missed, luckily for him). We drove into Idaho just to say that we had been there.
Returning to Nebraska, I couldn’t help but marvel anew at the beauty of the Plains and the Sandhills.
These sights are certainly not a tourist draw like the majestic Tetons (even though we had planned our Wyoming trip for late September to avoid some of the crowds, there was no dearth of people). Perhaps from an economic perspective, this is not a good thing, but from every other perspective it is.
Yes, Nebraska is underrated, but that is not all bad.
Readers may contact Sheila at email@example.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.