Brewster

Come to Brewster for a big dose of good ol’American whatever.

Sometimes words don’t come easily ’bout a thing – but, if you’re ever in need of a big dose of good ol’American whatever – come to Brewster – you won’t have a hard time finding it here.

Mama Cow

Now, sometimes a thing’s like eating good jerky: you can’t chew and talk ’bout it at the same time. And when you’re done chewin’, you’re happy you got a minute pickin’ your teeth, while you stand there thinking ’bout exactly what you wanna say.

Uncle Buck’s Lodge is the first thing you see when you ride into Brewster. It stands there like a fortress with a Ranch-style architecture. It makes you feel a little uneasy, first looking at it, because there’s no other building near its size in the whole town.

The second most stately house belonged to the county attorney, who died over a decade ago, who they never bothered to replace. The courthouse is next on the list – and both of them are calves standing next to Uncle Buck’s.

“The town” is a half dozen buildings – boarded up. Main Street, lies there like a sick ol’dog, where an old school telephone booth – one you might expect to see Superman fly out of – is the only thing lit up. One or two shops have signs reading they’ll open on the next special occasion. And, I’m told, the school kids – what remains of them – are bused to a neighboring school twenty miles down the road.

But Uncle Buck’s Lodge is lively. Heck, you may as well say Uncle Buck’s Lodge is the town, now.

IMG_1532Walt and Marilyn own and run this great establishment. They built the place from the ground up – both being born spittin’ distance from its foundation.

Walt’s an old bull you know to steer clear of, at first. But you start thinking about having a word with him after you see him sitting there with guests,  chatting real friendly. And he’s not so bad – as long as you keep the nonsense down to a minimum.

Marilyn, though, definitely runs the show. Her hair, always tossed like mixed green salad, because she always finds something to do before she has time to comb it! She and her family have been in these parts a long time. In fact, she knows the date her ancestors drove in on a covered wagon.

It’s a bunch of hard working people, here at Uncle Bucks. A support crew of ladies from town help Marilyn at the lodge. All of them with terrific stories – but I’m not writing a sequel to Gone With The Wind.

I need to mention Scott Croner. He’s the professional outfitter staying at the lodge during turkey season. He’s a master hunter and, among other things, an Iron Man competitor. His athletic nature makes him stand out like a carrot in a pot of peas, in this neck in the woods.

“Everyone tags out!”, is his battle cry. And all the guests did tag out while I was there.

Last – but certainly not least – is Doug and Annie…

Doug is Dean’s brother, the gent I met in Cozad, he is the brother I had to ride up here to meet.

Doug and his wife, Annie, are people as right as rain. Not knowing me from spit in a spittoon, they drove me all over the Sand Hills, showing me the sights. Introducing me to friends, and handing me experiences I would have never had otherwise.

And that’s no small favor – when you consider, most driveways here are twenty miles long!

Thank you, Doug and Annie! Thank you, Walt and Marilyn! Your kindness will be long remembered.

Branding
Branding calves at Doug’s neighbor’s ranch.

Cozad

I’m not ashamed to say it – but I feel like I’m in heaven, when three pieces of Casey’s Famous Pizza are on the table in front of me.

I took the lad’s advice, the one I met in Laramie, about stopping here in Cozad, NB. Heck…I just had to see what a town called Cozad looked like.

It may be less apparent than in Europe, but we have a fair share of diversity as well. In less then the last five hundred miles I’ve traveled, the terrain, the people, even the air, have become completely different.

This is cattle country – and it’s not difficult to come to that conclusion. All the cattle pens along side the road are a good indication and…

Who-wee, are those gladiolas I smell?

COZAD

The way out of Wyoming, along the I-80, is a bleak place.

It includes climbing a mountain range, two thousand feet higher than Laramie, where things went from cold to colder. The wind whips across a wrinkled, barren, landscape, where even the snow huddles down in the rifts for protection.

Then a long gradual decent into Nebraska, where, at the state line, as though ordered by the Chamber of Commerce, the roadside turns as green as a scene used on idealized postcard: “Welcome to Nebraska……the good life”.

State Line SignWhen I reached Cozad it was dinner time, and neither of the two restaurants were open – so I went to the only bar in town and had a beer with my new buddy, Dean.

I told Dean what I was doing and he thought that was great. Before long, he was on his cellphone talking to his brother who lived in the northern part of the state. And he arranged for me to meet him at 10:00 the next morning at a place called Uncle Buck’s Tavern in Brewster – the town where they both grew up.

Brewster is a hundred miles straight up, in an region known as the Sandhills.

“It’s a little early” he said, “but in another week those dunes will bloom and become some of the best grazing grounds in the country.”

Dean also promised I’d see some interesting farmsteads along the way.

I’m looking forward to that! I’m a little concerned that I’ve come this far and still feel no ambition to paint.

Grain Loader