Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 15 - Sightseeing around Sidney

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There have been no inclement weather warning in this part of the state however it is very chilly, (2 C rising to 16 C).  I do not understand how the locals run around in shorts and sandals while I am hugging my winter coat as I run into the Walmart to check out people and things.  After a couple of days staring at endless lines of transport trucks, cattle and farmland, we needed a change of pace so we are looking for some adventures today.

Our first stop was visiting the Courthouse Rock and Jail Rock. You can see them from miles away as they are the only thing breaking up the very flat plain. They are not an official tourist site so we just took a dirt road off the highway north of Sydney and started climbing around. The tourist info says they are the easternmost extensions of the Rocky Mountains.




The next historical site was Chimney Rock National Monument in Bayard, along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails.  We did not go into the visitor’s centre to read and view artifacts.  We went to a viewing site, ate our lunch, walked through the adjoining cemetery and carried on to out next destination.



We spent the rest of the day at Scott’s Bluff National Monument. It is another monolith sticking out of the plain but it is much larger. There is a very cool road up to the top plateau that zigzag its way up through some tunnels and along the edge.



We did some short hikes at the top to the lookouts and then walked down a great trail to the bottom. It also zigzagged down one side then you walked through a tunnel to the other and continued on down back to the visitors center. This being our first official hike and being out of shape we opted to take the shuttle back to the top to get the car and drive back down.




These formations are made up of a hard cap rock protecting the soft sandstone beneath from the rain so they erode more slowly than the surrounding plains which were originally at the same height. They are rather quickly eroding though. At the top they had a surveyed pipe buried in the rock showing how much has been exposed. Walking down the trail we could see the various layers of caprock, sandstone, volcanic ash and siltstone. (Geology lesson over)



We are not in good hiking form just yet so we are taking it easy for the rest of the day. We headed back to the RV for a rest and dinner.  It was a great day.

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