NEW HOUSING ON THE ROSEBUD REZ
VALENTINE MAIN STREETThursday, 8:00 PM. Valentine, NE. It is warm in the Nebraska Sandhills, over 50 degrees F and it looks like good weather tomorrow to get to Denver. it was a frigid 2 degrees F this morning in Albert Lea, MN. It was a foggy morning, with fantastic hoar frost on trees and buildings, quite beautiful.
The trip across South Dakota was uneventful, but we saw a flock of migrating Sandhill Cranes as we entered the state, so spring is on its way. Valentine is on the Niobrara River and the Sandhills are to the south. I love the river and the Sandhills, and the first western pine trees, the three-needled Ponderosas (Pinus ponderosa) of the Black Hills, greet one here on the banks of the Niobrara. Also on the cool north facing south bank of the river near Valentine can be found disjunct populations of paper birch (Betula papyrifera), not otherwise seen until hundreds of miles further north. Twenty years ago I canoed this stretch of the river, which is pretty tame but has a few treacherous spots to trip up the unwary. The Sandhills are the sponge which charge the Ogalalla aquifer, which provides irrigation water for much of Nebraska, Kansas, and the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas. The route of the proposed pipeline from Canada to the gulf has been rerouted around it to satisfy environmental concerns.
We drove through the eastern edge of the huge Rosebud Sioux Reservation on US 83 and I have to say it seems to look more prosperous these days. The Rosebud Casino is probably the source of new wealth, but alcoholism and social problems are still a plague on this reservation as on most others.
We ate at the Peppercorn restaurant in Valentine, a true Nebraska steakhouse, of which I am afraid there are not many left. I had top sirloin, Joan had prime rib, both excellent; with a bottle of decent wine the bill was $49.00.
Tomorrow we travel south through the Sandhills and then on to Denver.