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STOP #204

Today's 86-mile travel day took us from the town of Superior (pop. 1957) to the city of Beatrice (pop. 12.459). Beatrice has two city parks with campgrounds that feature full hookup sites (water/electric/sewer) and while they're not free, they do have a very reasonable price of just $20 a night.

Both are located along the Big Blue River that runs through town, but they have a very different atmosphere about them. Chautauqua Park is located on the southeastern part of town and has 20 campsites, most are currently occupied by what appear to be long term residents and we only saw one vacant site when we passed through at 2:00PM.

Riverside Park is located on the outskirts of the northwest edge of town and has only 8 campsites. Only one looks to be occupied by a long term resident and we had our choice of three vacant sites to spend this weekend in.

There is only 2-1/2 miles between the two parks. I'm so glad we chose to visit Riverside Park first (at 10:00AM) and decided to stay here. It is located on the same side of town as the Homestead National Monument, which is why we are here in the first place.

All set up for the weekend here on Campsite #4 - Riverside Park, Beatrice, NE

As you can see it's a short walk to the restrooms and showers!

FRIDAY - Today after we both enjoyed a nice, hot, unlimited water shower, we headed over to visit the Homestead National Historic Park. It's located just a couple miles down the road from our campsite.

Without trying to start any political, moral or ethical discussions, I'll summarize what we learned today. Of course if I'd have paid attention in American History class in High School I would have already been familiar with most of it!

The Homestead Act, enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land.

The word "improve" was defined as living on the land and farming it for a period of five years, after which you were finally awarded the deed to the land. Only a little over 50% of homestead applicants were successful in acquiring their deeds.

The Homesteading Act was in place until 1976 (114 years later) and was extended in Alaska until 1986.

Today we visited the site of the very first Homestead application. There is a Heritage Center here with a 22-minute film and a small museum with period farming equipment, photos and stories about many of the individuals (some successful, some not) in their quest for a piece of land to call their own.


Did you notice the roof line of the Heritage Center was designed to look like a plow? Very clever huh!
This wall leading up to the entrance has metal cutouts of the 30 states where you can find Homesteads.
This small home is typical of where people lived during their homestead application.
The home is surrounded by some of their valuable farming equipment.
A little bit closer view of the front door.
Standing in the doorway, here is a view looking to the left and the stairs leading to the children's loft...
...then straight ahead...
...and finally to the right and the parents bedroom.
At some point there was a back door which lead to an outdoor kitchen area. Probably during the time when there were up to 12 people living in this small home.

SATURDAY - While we were out yesterday we drove past a fast food restaurant that had a line of cars wrapping around the entire building waiting in the drive thru lane. It was just after noon but still, all the way around the building? They must be serving up something awfully tasty there. The nearby McDonalds, Arby's, Burger King and DQ Grill were lucky to have one car at their drive thru window.

We have got to find out what's going on here!

The name of the restaurant chain is Runza.

While they do have 2 locations in Colorado, 2 in Iowa and 1 in Kansas, the balance of their 50+ locations are mainly in the south and east portions of Nebraska, where they started in 1949 near the capitol city of Lincoln.

The also serve up burgers, chicken and salads, but their signature sandwich is called what else, a Runza. It's why people are here and no where else in town. It's ground beef with a special blend of spices, cabbage and onions, stuffed into a fresh baked roll. There are also many different toppings you can add to make it your own.

The flavor reminds me a little of the empanadas I'm familiar with from South Florida. Empanadas are originally from Spain, but can now be found all over Mexico and Latin America.

Well it's time for the FINAL exciting episode of:


Say that three times fast!

Today's soda selection is distributed by Boylan Bottling Company of New Jersey.

The company was founded in 1891 selling birch flavored root beer from back of a wagon. Since then the company has expanded their line of flavors and this Black Cherry I'm tasting today is considered one of their "core four" flavors.

All of their flavors are made with pure cane sugar, no artificial sweeteners here, and with the exception of their colas, they are all caffine free.

With all that going for it, it must taste good, right? Well it does and deserves a solid third place finish in my "SATURDAY SODA SAMPLINGS" challenge.

In addition it "pairs perfectly" with a Runza sandwich! 😎

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