The day we arrived in Minden, we found ourselves camping at the Pioneer Village campground. Lightning rolled through the sky from the northwest as we set up our tents, shell-shocked and half-baked from the heat of the day. With the ominous wind and the lightning cracking open the sky, I set our tent stakes deep and pulled the fly down tight.
That night, we slept as best we could through the worst storm I have ever camped through. The rain rattled and the wind blew, pushing and bending the tent until I thought the poles were sure to snap. Thunder cracked and boomed and the lightning strobed schizophrenic from all directions. I thought for sure that Slater’s tent poles had snapped and flattened, and at the first break in the roar of the storm I called out between rolls of thunder to see if he was still there. He held Grace tight and told her they would be OK as their tent was blown flat over and over, bouncing back after every gust of wind.
The next day, we crawled out wet and shaken, but no worse for the wear. Feeling beaten down, we decided to take a day off. Any day we aren’t walking, we are doing therapy visits and community outreach – we don’t really take days off. But that day, we drove up to Kearney and checked into a motel room so we could sit around and watch cartoons in our underwear. No walking, no visits; just sweet air-conditioned recovery. It was glorious.
The second day in Kearney, we reached out to the community to volunteer. Our first stop was The Good Samaritan Society St. John’s nursing home, where we made the rounds and visited residents. It is a little hectic to manage four dogs in narrow hallways, but the staff was wonderful and took us to the rooms that needed us most.
After St. John’s, we headed over to the Emeritus Northridge senior living community. They fed us well, then set us up in a big common room where we met with residents and introduce the dogs.
We got to tell them a lot about our trip while the dogs schmoozed, and then Slater busted out some sweet jams in his guitar.
Rhubarb Pie is always a big hit with the older crowd. Everyone was encouraging and hospitable, and we left with our spirits lifted.
The Kearney Hub newspaper sent a reporter, Mary Jane, out to meet us, and she ended up being from the same small Ohio town as Kait. The world gets smaller every day. After she snapped some photos and interviewed us, she invited us out to dinner. Over hummus and live music, we shared stories and talked politics. Always a good time.
After two days off the trail and out of the heat, we dropped south to Minden and hit the road again. Before we made it out of town, a woman named Mindy pulled over and asked if her daughter, Macy, could meet our dogs.
We moved on. Colorado or bust.