I have lived in many different locations through the state of Nebraska: Alliance, Imperial, Hastings, Broken Bow, O’Neill and Lincoln – those are the towns I can remember. I think I also lived in North Platte prior to any of my own childhood memories. Three of those places: Alliance, Broken Bow and O’Neill rest at the edges of a highly unique geographic location, called the Sandhills.
When I mention that I grew up in Nebraska, most people I meet have never been there. It truly is fly over country for most people, with potentially the closest they come is a ski trip or family vacation to the Rocky Mountains. If someone has been near the area I grew up, it’s because they took I-80 through the state on their way west. (And even then, I have probably met less than a dozen people that have ever done this in the past 5 years). I-80 doesn’t provide the best experience, for someone passing through the state.
While many people see it as a place to fly over, I look back at it and appreciate the childhood it allowed me to have. I surely didn’t think this way growing up. I felt like I was missing out on so much. However, I realize now that the things I either took fore granted back then or outright disliked about growing up in western and central Nebraska are key to who I am today. Could I live there again, probably not – but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of respect for what it gave me.
Here’s a video that a former teacher from Broken Bow posted on Facebook today. Interestingly, it’s posted by a guy who grew up in Nebraska and (according to his twitter profile) lives in southern California.
[vimeo 7445205 w=500 h=281]