Saturday, August 28, 2010

Grand Island, NE

From Indian Cave, we traveled through Lincoln to Grand Island, where we stayed in George H. Clayton, Hall County Park. Grand Island, a community of about 50,000, gets its name from the French "La Grande Ile," meaning the large or grand island in the Platte River which was formed when a narrow channel branched off the Platte approximately 28 miles upstream from the present city and which returns to the main river about 12 miles downstream. The Long and Fremont expeditions in the 1800s noted that Grand Island ranged from 40 to 70 miles in length and 1.5 to 3 miles wide.

The park is an excellent facility, with tall shade trees like this one, hiking/biking and nature trails, playgrounds and group facilities. Our only complaint is that, like most other State or County parks in this area, there is power but no water at individual camp sites. There are, however, plenty of wild turkeys, bunnies and squirrels, which keep the dogs entertained. The grounds are also well-maintained, with seasonal plantings everywhere.

We were also surprised to find an abundance of toads and frogs in the park. If you're out after dark, you have to be careful not to step on one. Since amphibians in Texas are on the decline, we were pleased to find so many of them, like this healthy youngster.

We have also been treated to cicada concerts throughout our stay. These amazing insects live the first seven years of their lives underground, then emerge to sing, breed and lay eggs before ending their life cycle in the form shown here.

Another highlight of our trip to Grand Island was a tour of the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. In addition to several new buildings housing various exhibits, there are over sixty 100-year-old restored buildings (most from the immediate area), many furnished with period furnishings, set on the 200-acre campus. The lovely Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church was one of our favorites, as was this restored barn.

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