Algona to Pender

Thursday, August 20, 2009
Pender, NE

First, let me fess-up that yesterday was Dar & my anniversary. It's been 37 years since we tied the knot and we're still going strong. If there's any question about our compatibility and ability to be flexible, communicate, and to keep things in perspective... living together in 300 square feet for over two solid years without killing each other should say it all. A new theory of mine is that if you're truly compatible you can live together in any sized space, even a smaller space than the bus-house. But if you're not compatible, a 6,000 square foot mansion wouldn't be large enough.

Yesterday we pulled up the jacks in Algona and continued the trek westward. Dar had a very fruitful exploration of the history of her ancestors from her mother's side of the family, culminating in the discovery at the library of a parish history from the small town of St. Benedict near Algona. This is the area where her ancestors settled and this narrative is a gold-mine of information that's got her so pumped full of adrenalin that it'll be weeks before she stops vibrating.

Leaving Algona, we drove south on US-169 to Humboldt, where we stopped at Dodgen Industries, the manufacturer of high quality Born Free class C campers. About that time the skies opened up and it rained heavily for the next hour or  more, so it was a good place to kill time anyway. We met the owner, John Dodgen, who, at 83 years of age, is still directing the business on a daily basis. He's an affable gent who approached us to say hi and see what our interest was in Born Free. All the people we ran into there were very friendly and helpful, and went out of their way to make sure we were taken care of. Our idea, at some point in the future when we have a fixed base (home without wheels) again, is that we'll downsize the RV so we can continue to explore the smaller and more out-of-the-way places we can't go with the bus-house.

From Humboldt, we took IA-3 west to Cherokee, and then US-59 south to US-20, the general path we want to take through Nebraska. Just a few miles after crossing the state line into Nebraska, we caught US-75/77 south a few miles to NE-35, which is a winding road through the higher-than-expected hills and ridges of northeast Nebraska. Near Emerson we dropped south on NE-9 to Pender.

Pender is a small town of about 1,000 people. It's also in the middle of the Omaha Indian Reservation, which is causing some issues with local business owners who don't want to pay the recently imposed 10% tax on sales the tribe wants to collect. It's all in the courts and will be for years, I'm sure.

We checked into our site at Blue Ox and before we knew it a couple friendly guys came over, talked with us about what we'd like, and took our towbar back to the shop for a good going-over. I'm having a couple other small additions made to the system which should keep us towing happily and safely for the next few years. I'm really impressed with the energy and attitude of the Blue Ox people. Hmmm. There seems to be a pattern forming.

We're staying here until Friday, mostly so we can get caught up on laundry. We haven't had full hookups for so long we can't remember. Blue Ox isn't charging us to camp here because we're having some service done. But the park is open to anyone at the low price of only $15/night, full hookups included. You gotta like that.

To celebrate our anniversary last night, we went out to the finest dining establishment in Pender -- Welch's Pizzeria and Bar on Main Street. We found a couple stools at the bar, ordered a pizza and a beer, and got to know the owner, Tom, and his son, Dusty. Tom has owned the place for 30 years. The conversation was far-ranging and enjoyable. We told them we'll be back every time we pass through Pender.

As I write this mid-day on Thursday, the sky is cloudy and the wind is hawking at full-gale our of the northwest. The cold-front that passed through last night dropped the dew point and temperature enough that we may be able to register a wind-chill if we tried. Travel conditions will  be better on Friday.



Gage said…
Congrats on your 37 year commitment to one another!!! I have always felt happy/fortunate/proud to have two sets of parents with long, loving, healthy relationships. Heck all the grandparents are still hitched too. Perfect role models to look up to. Can you believe it will be 10 years this month for Andrea and I? Time flys... Looking forward to seeing you both in September. Godspeed.

Slightly Better than Most