Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sunday at the pit

msn photo
The 400 mile fishing trip to Alexandria, Minnesota used to be the highlight of our summer. Now we drive twenty to Jim & Carol's cabin on a sandpit off the Platte River and have just as much fun without the work of packing, unpacking, packing and unpacking. We took a lot of food for a ride.

The Platte River ranges from trickle-width to a mile wide. Shallow, but tricky, it has surprised many a person with a swift current that made a deeper pool and stole their life. And there's quicksand - bottomless sucking sand. Crossing the Platte I noticed three air boats lined up on the south bank as if set to race across - about a block. With their powerful and extra loud engines they'd be in North Bend before they could stop.

We are a High Plains state in the "breadbasket of America". Nebraska farmers raise corn, wheat, and soybeans in abundance with the help of irrigation. I'd like a quilt of an aerial photo of our summer fields: shades of green, brown, and wheat gold, center pivot crop circles, the few trees around farmsteads, and straight roads with square sections unlike Minnesota and Mississippi.

Nebraska is one of eight states atop the Oglala, one of the world's largest aquifers (reservoirs). Its estimated age is from 2 to 6 millions years. According to U. S. Water News Online it's the deepest in Nebraska's sand hills in the northwest area of the state.

Our population is concentrated in the east. Sand pits are created by dredging sand for commercial use creating lakes the size of Paul Bunyan's pinky. Legend has it that it in Minnesota he stepped and created lakes - 10,000 of them. Sounds more like he clogged.

Jim and Carol dwarfed their cabin adding an over-sized deck with pergola. They don't do anything small. He's 6'9" with a sense of humor that goes all the way to the top. I stretch to be 5'5" and call him my two-step step-son. I have to stand up two to talk to him. Sweetcorn for dinner isn't an ear or two, it's a dozen. The only thing small in their life is Maddy, a little poodle.

The inner tubes Jim inflated were tractor size. Imagine that. We fiddled around trying to decide how to get in. I opted for the dock. Carol held it while I eased my booty into the middle without flipping and hung my legs and arms over. The water was cold in places and warm in others. Refreshing. Relaxing. Maddy wore her life jacket with leash attached but preferred to sit on Jim's shoulder. Neighbors yards were adorned with moving whirly-gigs to keep the geese from eating their new grass and making deposits.

Hunger nagged. Should we walk to the shallow area and roll out? Jim suggested placing a tall ladder in the water at the dock so I could climb out, up, over the top and down the other side. You first. I moved to shallow water, Carol held the tube, and I popped out.

Carol, our favorite daughter-in-law, is a great cook. Other years we had fresh fried crappie or walleye, new potatoes, peas and dill weed in a cream sauce and peach dumplings with ice cream for dessert. This year I brought fried chicken. She sauteed onion, garlic and portabella mushrooms, added chicken broth and rice. Delicious. Rhubarb crisp was dessert with vanilla ice cream. Sour, rhubarb needs lots of sugar. I love it. The roto-rooter of the bowels, it needs to be eaten in moderation.

It was a great mini-vacation, and I got to sleep in my own bed.

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