Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Mari Sandoz Sandhills Highway

I left Valentine, Nebraska early this morning and drove west on Route 20 headed to Gordon, Nebraska, passing many small towns with populations less than 20 listed on their town signs. I turned south on highway 27, the Mari Sandoz Sandhills Highway.

I also passed several groups of wild turkeys along the highway.

I have read many of the works of Mari Sandoz (1896-1966) and wanted to see the area she describes in her novels. I first read Old Jules, the story of her father and other settlers who came to the upper Niobrara region of Nebraska in the late nineteenth century and became acquainted with the Sandhills through her work. Mari Sandoz was internationally known as a chronicler of the West and as an expert on Indian history.

I caught these two beautiful horses standing by the fence on Route 20 on my way out of Cody, Nebraska. They seemed very curious about my car and kayak and posed as I took their photograph.

I stopped in Merriman, Nebraska to fill up my gas tank and took this photo of the "Cold Pop" sign opposite the gas station. Even though it was very early on a Sunday morning there were several very friendly people inside the station talking to the owner. As I paid for my gasoline the owner (he didn't have pumps that accepted credit cards) proudly showed me that his gasoline pumps, though old, could go up to as high as $9.99. I told him that I hoped that would suffice in the short term.

This is a shot I took on the Mari Sandoz Sandhills Highway heading towards her family's old fruit farm.

About thirty-sevens miles south of Route 20 is this sign for the turnoff to the old Sandoz homestead.

A couple of miles from the turnoff I turned left at the sign for Mari Sandoz's gravesite.

The headstone of Mari Sandoz's gravesite overlooking the Sandhills of Nebraska and the area that used to contain her father's fruit trees.

I thought it was interesting that there was a mailbox in the enclosed grave site along with a green bench for sitting down to enjoy the view.

When I opened up the mailbox I found two notebooks filled with warm wishes from the many visitors who had visited the gravesite. The notebooks bent back to 2002.

I signed the page as the only visitor for June 15, 2008. The last visitor was there June 12. I wanted to photograph some of the pages because the visitors were very interesting and included some of Sandoz's relatives.

As I drove away from the Sandoz farm I spotted this beautiful bird sitting on a post. I was able to grab my camera and get this shot. I looked up the name of this bird in the book of Nebraska birds I bought back in Valentine at the Plains Trading Company bookstore and I'm pretty sure it is a yellow-headed blackbird.

I drove to the end of Route 27 and headed west on Route 2 to Alliance enjoying more sandhills and the long trains hauling coal which paralleled me on the right all along this highway.

I took this last photograph of Nebraska wheat as I drove down to Colorado and on to Denver. I drove down Route 385 to Sterling, then picked up Route 19 to Interstate 76 and on in to Denver. Interstate 76 merged with Interstate 70 in Denver and I headed out over the Rocky Mountains. I stopped for the night at Idaho Springs, Colorado. Idaho Springs is a nice little ski and hiking town. I walked downtown and stretched my legs then stopped in at the visitor's center to pick up maps of the area.


Yvonne Sandoz said...

Dear Diana

Thank you for the beautiful pictures. I will be in Chadron, NE at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center this summer. As a member of the same family as Mari Sandoz, I am very much interested in her and her family's history.
Lots of greetings from Switzerland,
Yvonne Sandoz, Basel

mintradz said...

Thanks for posting this one. It was an honor that you have taken a picture of my works. I have been making those POP sign products and other marketing tools for over 16 years already. By the way, I also signed on the notebook you saw on that mailbox along the grave site.