Kearney NE. March 3, Friday
Wow. Another scrumptious meal from our Evergreen hosts. This could get addictive. After breakfast, we toured another uniquely Nebraskan facility, the Larsen Tractor Test and Power Museum. Not high on your list? Too bad, it was an informative look at the only agricultural tractor test site in the Western Hemisphere.
Why here in Nebraska? Well, in 1918 Nebraska farmer W.F. Crozier bought a Minneapolis Ford tractor (not associated with the Ford Motor Company). The new tractor did not live up to its advertised claims. So he and Nebraska State Senator Charles Warner put into motion a bill to advance consumer protection; specifically protecting farmers by requiring that any tractor sold in the State of Nebraska must be tested and proved to meet its advertised claims of performance. Voila, thus was born the University of Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory.
We had a tour of the facility by a retired professor, and dean, of the university who provided the background above and explained the various tractors on display. This facility has set the standard the world over and other countries abroad use the performance standards and testing measures to test their own tractors. Any tractor sold in the U.S.now will be first tested here on the test track with the equipment the lab has perfected. It will take about one week for each tractor to be tested. If the tractor does not pass, it will not be put on the market and has to go back to the manufacturer. And, the manufacturer can not just then lower the advertised claim of performance. The tractor has to be re-manufactured to meet the original professed standards.
From tractors we headed over to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum housed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This museum is one that Chris has been hoping to visit for several years. Our tour focused on special exhibits. The first was a series of 12 quilts, more like artwork than household textiles, made by a British artist, Pauline Burbridge.
The second exhibit was from Japan, about 23 quilts by Japanese artists. The quilts are selected in Japan’s largest contest sponsored by the Japan Handicraft Instructors association. Neither Chris nor I quilt, but even we were impressed by the intricacy and detail obvious in the quilts exhibited.
The third exhibit was a group of 50 quilts by a Luke Haynes from New York. These quilts were displayed on and over a series of metal cubes created since the artist did not wish to have his work hanging on walls.
While all of the quilts were impressive, I guess overall we were disappointed not to see more of the 5000 plus quilts the Museum has in its archives. The museum follows strict protocol in storage and care of quilts lent for other displays. It also has quilts (I believe all but maybe only most of them.) available to be viewed online. Our recommendation would be to view them online where you can observe more of them and can do it at your leisure.
Our final stop at the University was at their dairy store. The University produces its own cheeses and ice cream and locals say it is the best. Of course, you hear that comment around any local creamery. We decided to test out the product, trying Karmel Kashew, Butter Brickle and Butter Pecan. The ice cream was good, worth the trip, but not outstanding. Maybe it would taste better when the weather was 20 or 30 degrees warmer.
We left Lincoln around 12:30 and headed out to Kearney NE-Sandhill Crane Capital of the World. More than 80 percent of the world’s sandhill crane population converges on the Platte River of Nebraska. Here they feed, gain weight, rest up, and prepare for their final journey to their summer breeding grounds in Alaska, Canada, Siberia and parts of the northern U.S. We hope to view hundreds of thousands of them tomorrow. We stopped at the Crane Trust headquarters and they indicated that the birds have arrived. We drove a few back roads to make sure.
Before checking in to our hotel, we stopped at The Archway, a tourist attraction spanning Interstate 80. This unique arch has a privately sponsored attraction providing a Reader’s Digest version of the westward expansion of the U.S.from the 1840s on. Displays, videos, and audio exhibits cover topics such as the early pioneers, Pony Express, the transcontinental railroad, the Lincoln Highway, etc. The tour consumed about an hour and is probably best for families with kids or people with just an overall understanding of US history. But, it got us out of our car and satisfied our curiosity as to what the heck was this thing crossing over the entire Interstate.
Ed and Chris. Kearney NE March 3