Showing posts with label Great Plains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Great Plains. Show all posts

Monday, March 18, 2019

Omaha. Monday.

Click on map for full size
The trip from downtown Omaha to the town of Valley, in far western Douglas County, usually takes about 40 or 50 minutes, depending on traffic.

Correction. It usually took 40 or so minutes to make the trip across Omaha and across the Elkhorn River to the suburban town. Today, it took a KETV, Channel 7 news crew almost 4 hours in a backroads trek across a fair swath of the dry(ish) parts of northeastern Nebraska.

Then authorities reopened Highway 36, allowing motorists to make it to Valley -- probably in about an hour -- by following a State Patrol guide vehicle on the last leg of the journey.

West Dodge Road at 228th Street (courtesy Douglas County)
THIS IS the new normal. As water recedes on the major westbound routes out of Omaha, we're finding that what was multi-lane highway is now fractured, undermined and occasionally completely washed-away.

Or, as they say in New England,
"Ayah, ya can't get thayah from heayah."

Nebraska. Sunday.

Nebraska State Patrol
I think this photo taken by the Nebraska State Patrol near Columbus pretty much sums up the suffering of my state these past few days.

It is not yet done. The Missouri River continues to rise to historic levels just south of Omaha. Fremont, Neb., is a virtual island. You could make the 30-minute trip there from Omaha this afternoon -- finally -- in just under 3 hours, if you knew which back roads were dry and had a police escort.
That's how a convoy of food and fuel made it in tonight. Before that, people and relief supplies were being ferried in from Omaha by volunteer pilots.
From north-central Nebraska to the Missouri River bottom land in the far southeast, people have lost everything and small towns have been all but scoured from the fertile plains. Across the region, at least two are dead and several more missing.
Its well fields swallowed by the Platte River, the city of Lincoln has mandated restrictions on water usage. We haven't even started talking about how bad the damage to agriculture is.
YET, IT'S just been the past day or so that the national media has acknowledged that something might be catastrophically wrong in "flyover country." It's not the first time we've been ignored by the "coastal elites," many of whom seem to think cattle roam the streets of Omaha and Conestoga wagons still rumble down the Oregon Trail.

We're all rubes to them. Yet they wonder why so many in these forgotten lands might vote for such a monster as Donald Trump.
Well, I wouldn't -- and didn't -- vote for the political equivalent of the Ebola virus. Many folks I know wouldn't, and didn't. Of course, it's perfectly clear to these same learned and oh-so-sophisticated folks why people in far-off lands might blow themselves up on crowded far-away streets.
Perhaps "Fuck you," is a message most clearly read from a great distance.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Railtown, U.S.A.

I've been away from the keys . . . and 3 Chords & the Truth . . . and the blog . . . and lots of stuff for the past three weeks. Time to get back to it -- them.

So, I'll do just that by posting this, some pictures from an overnight trip to North Platte, Neb., my old stomping grounds that's simply known as Railtown, U.S.A. North Platte is the Union Pacific Railroad. The U.P. is the largest employer in the city of 25,000 in west-central Nebraska, and North Platte is home to the largest rail yard in the world -- Bailey Yards.

Bailey Yards is where the railroad repairs trains, classifies rail cars and puts them together into east- and westbound trains. The yard is massive -- more than eight miles long and 3 1/2 miles wide at its widest point. The locomotive repair shop works on some 300 engines a day and handles thousands upon thousands of rail cars daily as well.

SO, WHEN I was in town the other day, a visit to the yard's visitor center in the Golden Spike Tower was a must.  You get a helluva view from eight stories up.

See, I told you the place was massive. Below is just a small part of Bailey Yards. A small part. Small.

ON THE other hand, you can get in some quality trainspotting, too, in downtown North Platte, down by where the city's old train depot once stood.

FINALLY, being that this is the Great Plains, ye shall know a town by its grain elevator.

3 Chords & the Truth is coming up next at its usual bat time on this same bat channel. Be there, aloha. That is all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In some parts of America, this requires huge fans

The Buffalo Wild Wings people make me laugh.

They think you need big fans to screw up field goals and wreak general havoc. They think no one has actually seen somebody do the full Almira Gulch on a stationary bicycle.

They -- obviously -- live Back East.

I saw this stuff taking out the garbage just now. And you gotta make sure the trash can is good and heavy, because I hear the federal gummint will bill your ass if the Air Force has to scramble F-15s to intercept your Unidentified Flying Rubbermaid.

So, how windy is it out here on the Great Plains? This windy, says the Omaha World-Herald:
Ceaseless winds define the Great Plains, so much so that many people barely take note — apparently — of wind advisories from the National Weather Service. As a result, the wind advisory soon in many areas will go the way of the sod hut, becoming a relic of a bygone era.

Effective Oct. 31, the weather service will cease issuing wind advisories for much of Nebraska and Kansas, said Mike Moritz, warning coordination meteorologist for the Hastings office.

The exceptions will be eastern Nebraska and the the Panhandle, where the advisories will continue to be issued. Cities that will continue receiving wind advisories include Lincoln, Omaha, Norfolk, Scottsbluff and Sidney.

A wind advisory is the lowest level of alert that the weather service issues, Moritz said

Because windy weather is so routine on the High Plains, weather service offices years ago ceased issuing the wind advisories for Colorado and Wyoming.
All of the Great Plains will continue to receive special warnings when dangerously high winds are forecast.
Moritz said the decision was based on the results of a survey that the weather service conducted from late April through late July. Three-fourths of the respondents said they make no change in their daily lives when a wind advisory is issued. In contrast, most people take action when the more serious "high wind warning" is issued. Among those participating in the survey were local emergency managers.

"Most of the response was, ‘Bravo, thanks for doing this. We know it’s windy here,’ " he said.

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's that time of year

It's fall on the Great Plains, so that means it's grasshopper time in these parts. They're everywhere.


In exchange for a tip on where to find some juicy feed corn still in the fields, this little feller agreed to pose for some photographs.

 Am I a bad person for telling him all Omaha's best corn is in the middle of Dodge Street?

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Noah, call your office

We've had a little storm here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska.

Actually, we're still in the middle of a little storm -- or, more accurately, storms -- around these parts.

This is the typically Midwestern understated way of saying "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!" We've already smashed the record for rain in a day . . . which has fallen in about four hours.

So far. 

And in my part of town, we were lucky. There have been no rescuing people from houses in fire department boats, as there has been in northeast Omaha. There also have been no suspected tornadoes or baseball-size hail, as there have been north of town.

ABOUT 3 feet in the front of our garage got wet. So what -- it's a garage.

And nobody has had to rescue us with an airboat. That's something, at least.

I am, however, afraid to check out the basement.

Nighty night from windblown, hail-pocked, flooded Omaha. The College World Series starts at the end of next week -- let's hope there's something left for folks to visit.

UPDATE: Make that "smashed the record for rain in day for the month of in June." It was Omaha's fifth-highest all-time rain total for a single day.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A helicopter's-eye view of Nebraska

Just because people say something -- a lot -- that doesn't make it so.

Recently,  cinematographers took to the skies over our piece of Flyover Country to show folks exactly how flat and boring is Nebraska -- not. So, if you're someone who always thought the state tree was a telephone pole, prepare for your world to be rocked in three . . . two . . . one. . . .


Thursday, December 20, 2012

A winter wonderland

A funny thing happened Wednesday evening here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska. Winter showed up.

And how.

Above is the long-exposure view of what the blizzard looked like at about 20 of 11 last night.

AND HERE, immediately above, is what it looked like when using a flash.
The following photos represent what it looked like today, after the storm was through and we'd had a chance to dig out from under the 7 or so inches of well-drifted snow. I think they speak for themselves, so I'll just shut up now.
Besides, I got water boiling on the stove, and I need to make me a pot of coffee.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blizzard warning

4:06 p.m. -- starting to snow hard

The more the forecasters keep forecasting, the higher the snow totals keep going in these parts.

When we started our day today in Omaha, we were expecting a winter storm. Maybe 6 inches of snow.

Sometime along the way, that turned into a blizzard warning, and now we might get up to 10 inches of hard-blowing snow which, come to think of it, sounds a little kinky the way I just put it. A little more than an hour ago, it was just raining.

Now it's not.

Good thing I'm an artiste with a snow shovel, which is a skill not every -- OK, almost no -- Louisiana boy possesses. Perhaps I'm a real Midwesterner now, after 24 years.

By the way, in the Gret Stet, what we know in Nebraska as a "blizzard warning" is commonly referred to as "instant frozen death." Not an understated lot, those Louisiana folk.

Film at 11.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Big Nebraska sky

Hey Mom, been looking for time to write
Yeah, I’m getting by all right
How’s Dad? Did he get that East field plowed?
Used to be done by now
Out here it gets cold at night
But the stars are a welcome sight
To me

I pretend it’s the big Nebraska sky
Like the picture in my mind
Is the wind still rollin’ across the plains?
Please say it’s still the same

Follow the sun as it goes
Nothing but endless rows

Steve Gulley
and Tim Stafford

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dry around here. Real dry.

How dry is it around these parts?

Drier than a Baptist wedding reception, that's how dry. In fact, there's never been a drier July in Omaha.

Is it just me, or have there been a lot of fill-in-the-blank-ever meteorological moments lately? What we could use is a little melting ice sheet to water the parched and cracked earth of the Plains and Midwest.

Then again, climate change rarely does you any favors. As we hear from KETV television in Omaha:
For many farmers, this means giving up on the corn crop.

"The corn has basically stopped," farmer John McNamara said.

McNamara said he's been regularly watering his farm in Plattsmouth, but that it doesn't compare to a good rainfall; McNamara has lost 30 to 40 percent of his annual average production.

"You go to one plant, you have nothing. You go to another, you have nothing, this is happening a lot," McNamara said.
SUCKS, this does. Coastal Americans might be about to get a harsh economic lesson in the importance of "flyover country."

Word to the wise: Buy yourself a big freezer and stock up on beef now, when it's cheap because ranchers are having to sell off the herds they no longer can afford to feed because their pastures dried up and turned to dirt. Thus, the market is glutted.

Next year, however. . . .

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dr. Suck's weather tales

I do not like tornadoes Sam-I-Am; I do not like them worth a damn.

Would I like them here or there?

I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like tornadoes worth a damn. I do not like them Sam-I-Am.

Would I like them when I'm home? Would I like them in a dome?

I do not like them when I'm home. I do not like them in a dome. I do not like them here or there. I do not like them anywhere. I do not like tornadoes worth a damn. I do not like them Sam-I-Am.

today's Omaha World-Herald weather story is really harshing my mellow:
The Omaha, Lincoln and Norfolk areas face a high risk of potentially deadly weather Saturday that could include fast-moving, powerful tornadoes, strong winds, hail and heavy rains.

National forecasters issued the unusual alert Friday, saying a brewing storm system places 5.5 million people and several major cities at high risk — including Omaha, Wichita, Kan., and Oklahoma City. The risk is expected to begin in the late afternoon and continue until after dark.

Isolated severe thunderstorms also could drop tennis-ball-sized hail, heavy rains and kick up winds of 50 mph to 60 mph, said Josh Boustead, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office that serves eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

Not everyone will see storms, but those who do could see severe ones, he said.

The timing of Saturday's threat means storms are likely to begin firing as tens of thousands of people leave the University of Nebraska's spring game at Memorial Stadium. Before that, there could be lightning, he said.


Boustead said it will be hard to predict exactly where the storms will pop up, and officials are warning that any storm that develops could rip along at frightening speed.

Weather officials say they believe this is the earliest they've issued such dire warnings since April 2006. Those preceded a major tornado outbreak that began April 6 in an area from Oklahoma to Nebraska and headed east for two days. More than 70 tornadoes were confirmed and more than a dozen people died in Alabama and Tennessee.
THINK kind thoughts about the Plains. Think kind thoughts about our rains.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Autumn, it is

Hot coffee. Old pot.
Sweatshirts and the threat of snow.
Fall has settled in.

November. Nebraska.

Sure, it's damp and it's chilly out. And it rained all night.

And we're gonna get a little snow. It's early November in the Cornhusker State, after all.

But my sweet Lord, look what's just outside my back door. This is one of the reasons a Southern boy stays put in the Gret White Nawth.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Pop a top with top o' the pops. Again.

It's late at night in the middle of the week.

You're drinking beer and playing this stuff -- the original half-century-old 45 RPM vinyl records, a ritual extending the full breadth of your recollection -- and you're contemplating life and this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth.

In that moment of being lost in yourself, in your memories, in the music (and perhaps in the beer), you are keenly aware of two things.

ONE. You were blessed with -- by accident of time, place and class -- an amazingly good foundation in popular music.

Two. You, by God, are a Southern boy, through and through. Even if, at present, you do a passable imitation of a middle-aged Midwesterner.

In the cold light of day, other thoughts worm their way into the keyboard and onto the blog. In particular, what is the equivalent for those a generation or two younger than a fool such as I?

What today, musically or otherwise, sets in stone one's sense of place, of culture, of identity? When does it happen -- mine happened at about the age of three, I reckon -- and what does it mean in these postmodern times?

What are the things -- the sounds -- that bypass the mind of the millennial and head straight for the soul? Do they understand identity and culture in the same way as their forebears? Indeed, does a young person in Omaha understand who and what he is in anything resembling that of a 50-year-old in Baton Rouge? Or a 20-year-old in Pascagoula?

Who am I? Of what am I? What do I hold dear? Hold sacred?

Eternal questions. I suspect how we answer them only has the whole world riding on it.

Welcome to the intersection of Culture and Everything.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nebraska, explained

Sometimes, words are wholly insufficient in explaining a place and a people.

Sometimes, only art will do.

Consider this sculpture garden in downtown Omaha -- Pioneer Courage, it is called -- as good an explanation of this city, of this state, as any you will find in history texts.

When the white man fanned out across the Plains, as Willa Cather wrote in My Antonia, “There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made.”

In 1854, the year Omaha was incorporated, there weren't even trees to be found on this vast prairie. The pioneers . . . the homesteaders planted them all.

I love this park. It's where the pioneers silently and eternally press on through our past -- and headlong into the future they bequeathed us.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

As red as the driven snow

It's a windy, snowy and frosty night in Omaha, where the Midwest fades out and the wild and woolly Plains take hold.

A night like this, here in the rolling hills of eastern Nebraska, reminds one of being a Who, safely stowed away in Horton's icebox. A day like the one preceding this February prairie night reminds one of . . . being a Who, safely stowed away in Horton's icebox.

With the light left on.

Horton, by the way, never defrosts his icebox. He probably should take care of that.

He probably will . . . this spring.

WHENEVER I MENTION life in the Gret White Nawth to family and friends back in Louisiana -- particularly the unrelenting rituals of the dead of a Nebraska winter, like braving the blowing snow . . . dressing in many layers . . . shoveling the snow . . . reshoveling what's drifted -- the reaction is nearly universal. Horror is what it is.

People think I'm nuts. People think the North Pole must be pretty close to Omaha, and that nobody in his right mind is gonna live at the damn North Pole.

And regular snowfall is a sure sign of God's wrath upon the terminally stupid.

Of course, this reaction comes from a state where the last white Democrat will change his party registration to "R" by 2013. That is, if the world doesn't come to an end in December 2012, all life extinguished by a rogue glacier sliding southward from somewhere near . . . Omaha.

Maybe St. Paul. All dem places up Nawth is all de same, cher -- cold, cold.

Frankly, I think the Republicanization of my home state somehow may the be source and the sustenance of the Southern horror at all things cold and snowy. Snow, after all, is socialist.

Think about it: It matters not a whit whether one has the finest, most meticulously manicured lawn in the entire upper Midwest or whether yours is a yard ravaged by crabgrass and unsightly patches of dirt the same shade of dingy brown as a 1950s Soviet apartment block. When the snow comes, it's all the same.

IT'S A PATENTLY leftist redistribution of beauty -- No Yard Left Behind. Every yard is covered by a uniform, regimented blanket of socialist snow.

The finest yard is brought down to the proletarian level of the most humble, and the most meager of lawns is -- via some sort of meteorological affirmative action -- lifted up to the same level as that of a McMansion.

Snow ain't white; it's pink. As in "pinko."

Not only that, ice is a communist plot, too, socializing the placement of asses over heads without regard to socioeconomic status, skill, income, educational achievement or race or national origin. A broken bourgeois foot is pretty much the same as a pretzeled proletarian one.

Stuff like that really pousses the cafés of the class-conscious capitalists back in the Gret Stet.

Likewise, the Northern embrace of socialist ice -- like that of pinko snow -- renders useless the advantages of a solid, upper middle-class Cadillac Escalade over that of a poor-white-trash '82 Chevy Caprice.

While the Escalade may get started quicker on an icy surface, neither it nor the Caprice will fare any differently trying to stop at the traffic light at the bottom of a long hill. Arguably, the advantage here goes to the cash-strapped mope driving the Caprice -- if he T-bones, say, an Escalade . . . so what?

ASSUMING liability coverage, the Caprice driver is out nothing but a crappy old car. The bourgeois pig in the Caddy is out . . . well, he's out the monetary difference between a heavily depreciated, really expensive Caddy and what it costs to replace it with a brand-new one. You could buy, like, six '82 Caprices with that.

Remember, it ain't "black ice" that's your problem, Buster, it's "Red" ice.

And the dictatorship of the Gret White Nawthun proletariat laughs at your pretentious capitalist illusions of superiority, Bubba.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The day before February

Greetings from the upper Midwest, where it's a few minutes from February.

The weather outside is frightful; the coffee inside's delightful. I didn't have a chance to stick a digital camera out the door to take a dark, grainy video of what's going on here in the Gret White Nawth, so I swiped this off the Internets.

It's kind of like this, only without the tidal wave and Empire State Building. As a great philosopher once said, "Dem tings happen."

So does wintertime in Nebraska.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Now, a word from our contestants

If you think you're having a bad day, think again.

You could be a participant in the cattle judging at the Nebraska State Fair, trying to send out telepathic waves to everyone you encounter -- mental images that impart a simple message:

Eat mor chikin.

Because for a cow at the state fair, if you win,
you lose.

ON THE other hand, life at the fair ain't exactly a bowl of cherries for the sheep, either.

They get paraded around. They get stretched. They get lambhandled by teenagers.

They get poked, pulled, prodded, gawked at and ogled.

All they want to say is
"Hey, you @#&%+*$! Go pick on somebody your own size! Some creature with opposable thumbs and a discernible IQ! Leave. Me. Alone."

But can the sheep say that?
No, they can't.

They try, but all that comes out is "BAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

And you think you're having a crap-o day,
huh, Bunkie?

IN THE WORDS of that great philosopher Travis Tritt, "Here's a quarter. Call someone who cares."

We are Midwesterners. We have perspective. Now, get away from me before I make you march behind the draft horses. Blindfolded.

And barefoot.

IT'LL HAVE to be next year, though, for the state fair has ended its 2010 run at its new home out in Grand Island.

Pray for Bossie. And for Beauregard, too.

And remember . . . eat mor chikin.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

No place to go, nothing to do

From Facebook:
I live in North Platte Noww. Im only 13 and its boring there is nothing to do.. Whats up with all the drugs people say we do.. Yeah we do hang out at the park but so does everyone else. Its a community we know each other its not a big exciting city, but its a great town to live. We have fun in our own ways. You make friends that you will probably have for a lifetime. I love North Platte.

Kid, everybody thinks the grass is greener somewhere else, but usually it's not.

In Omaha, which is about 20 times the size of North Platte, kids hang out at the park, or at the mall, or in the Old Market and complain that Omaha is boring and there's nothing to do.

You're right, North Platte is a great place. When I lived there nearly 30 years ago, I grew to love the place. I met people who are friends to this day.

Most importantly, I met my wife.

BASICALLY, North Platte took a kid from the Deep South seeing how far away from home he could land a job, and it turned him into a Nebraskan.

For that, I will be forever grateful.

But here's the beauty of a small city like North Platte -- it's big enough to offer opportunities but small enough for a 13-year-old and her friends to make a real difference and accomplish great things.

For example, it's small enough for you and your friends, and maybe your parents, too, to find an underused property -- or maybe an old, rundown building the city would like to tear down or fix up -- and offer your free labor and enthusiasm to fix it up for, say, a youth center. Which would give kids something to do.

Or maybe you could start your own low-power radio station. Or your own North Platte youth-oriented website. Or organize summer showcases for local bands.

Or maybe kids could all get together to volunteer helping the poor or the homeless.

Or maybe you could just ask the Union Pacific whether you could have a paper-airplane flying contest atop the Golden Spike monument.

Actually, that sounds like fun. Even to a 49-year-old.