I finally made it to Smith Falls, NE on what is my longest planned drive of the trip. I left Pikes Peak, IA at 6A CDT this morning, and drove for almost 11 hours to get here. Quite a long drive, but at the end of it, Smith Falls is pretty dang impressive. But first, before I forget, I should talk slightly about Pikes Peak.
Pikes Peak is a pretty interesting place right on the IA side of the Mississippi river where the Wisconson river comes in. It's about 8 miles south of the Mounds National Monument, and there are a few mounds inside the state park as well. The mounds are rather interesting. I suppose if you were to suddenly come upon one, you probably wouldn't even know it, as they're pretty unassuming for the most part. In fact, untill I saw more than one of them, I thought it was just a interesting coincidence. Unfortunatly, I didn't actually get to go to the National park's mounds, as I was pressed for time, and it was nearing dusk when I arrived. However, I took a pretty decent panorama of the Wisconson side from the Iowa side, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.
One of the other pictures is of a deer that was watching me watch it as I wandered over to a minature falls called Bridal Veil. For those of you who have seen the big Bridal Veil falls at Yosemite, this was its midget third cousin. (But still neat in its own little way.) [Interesting (or depressing?) side note: Mosquitoes in Pikes Peak are nasty. I think I got bit about 20 times, most of them look pretty ugly. Worse, the dumb mosquitoes were so huge that their anesthetic doesn't work very well, so I spent most of the time while cooking trying to beat the buggers off while avoiding blowing up my stove.] After leaving Pikes Peak, I drove, and drove, and drove, and drove. 600 miles in single day is alot of driving, especially when most of it is done at 55-60mph (US 20 for about 450 of those miles). But arrive here safely I did. [There are a few pictures of the drive... US 20 adroitly avoids most property lines, but for miles on end it is arrow straight (although it does go up and down hills.)]
Smith Falls itself is about 14 miles East of Valentine, NB on NB 12. It's a small park with about 12 or so car acessible spots, and about 20 primitive sites. I got slotted into one of the car spots, which is ok... although it really didn't matter to me. The Niobrara river burbles away right behind me (and a few canoeists have floated buy in the time I've been typing this.)
The falls itself are pretty impressive, apparently the largest falls in all of Nebraska. No where near as tall as the falls in my favorite place, Havasupai, but still pretty nice, and definetly more than I was expecting.
Anyway, I'm going stick the pictures on this machine, and then close up shop; I need both hands free to stave of flies.