I’ve lived my entire life in Nebraska. I was born in Scottsbluff and grew up just outside of Lyman, about a mile from the Nebraska/Wyoming border. We eventually moved to the big city of Omaha when I was in kindergarten, but the landscape of Nebraska’s Panhandle has always stuck with me.
I remember gazing out the car window whenever we traveled back to my grandparents’ farm, watching the Sandhills pass by and just drinking in the landscape. What’s more, I remember long drives through that same landscape whenever my brother and I stayed at my grandparents — when we’d drive to their little country church, or go to any one of my grandpa’s corn, alfalfa, or sugar beet fields, or head into Scottsbluff for supplies, or go on a rare camping trip.
I’ve driven through mountains and I’ve gazed out over the ocean on a couple of continents, and while those vistas certainly have their appeal, they’ve never resonated within me to quite the same degree as western Nebraska. I’m sure I’m romanticizing things a bit — and to be honest, I’m quite content living in a city like Lincoln — but every time I head west, as we did on our recent family vacation, the vastness, barrenness, and even isolation of the Nebraska prairie evokes a longing within me quite unlike any other landscape I’ve seen.
I gained a new appreciation for western Nebraska this year, though, while staying at the High Plains Homestead, a bed and breakfast done up in the style of an old cowtown (it looks just like a movie set). Located literally in the middle of nowhere, as you can see above, it gave me a chance to inhabit, if only for a few days and nights, the landscape that I’ve so often driven through as an adult. I simply can’t recommend the Homestead enough if you’re looking for a unique (and very affordable) place for vacation or retreat, if only because of the magnificent vistas you get to enjoy.
This, for example, was the view from our front door:
With all due respect to Montana, this is some true “Big Sky Country”:
This was the backdrop for our last dinner there:
I now know a place where I’d definitely like to hole up for a future writing retreat.
Shortly after posting some of these photos on Facebook, a friend shared this quote from Reverand Val Peters:
Anyone can sit back at the seashore and be inspired because it shouts at you… so do the mountains. But the prairie only whispers. You must listen closely and not miss the message.
I don’t begrudge anyone their love of mountains, oceans, and other grandiose scenery, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a prairie boy through and through. It speaks to a deep, hidden part at the core of me every time I venture through it.