Three years ago, John introduced me to the Sandhills of Nebraska. I’ve lived here my entire life and had never really experienced them. I’ve driven by them on I-80 heading to Colorado many times but never actually stepped foot. I’d imagine that’s the case for many who grow up in Omaha or Lincoln on the East side of the state. We grow up thinking theres nothing to do in Nebraska so lets drive 8 hours west til we hit the good stuff. We forget about all the space in between, all that history the plains hold and bestow. We forget how special and unique the Nebraska plains actually are.
Imagine being surrounded by miles and miles of golden rolling hills that go on forever. You see a horizon that literally never ends, very similar to the ocean. Above you have an endless sky that displays hues of blue you could’ve never imagined and the sunsets and sunrises aren’t even explainable. Imagine all of that… and now… imagine being alone. So alone that if you didn’t want to.. you wouldn’t have to see a soul for days.
That is my upmost favorite part about the Sandhills.
I’ve never been to the desert, but I imagine the draw is very similar. And technically the plains are a type of desert. Alone in the desert, with you, your thoughts, the land and shitty cell reception. The disconnect is my second favorite part. While in the plains, you are forced to put down that black box we all constantly have in our hand and just be. Soak it in. The simplicity of life is remembered. Our circadian rhythm begins to line back up with the sun. Stress free. We are thankful for the sun, the glorious vast blue skies, the land around us and our ability to explore and utilize the surroundings. And because we are fisherman in the Sandhills, we appreciate the life of a catch and are thankful for the bounty we will use to nourish. Removed from over stimulation and easy access of food, we remember how precious life is. And we are grateful.
The simplicity of the Sandhills remind us of what the ones before us crossing the plains may have experienced. Besides the few telephone poles and roads here and there, the land basically looks untouched, even though it is. The land here mostly belongs to ranchers who were most likely settlers living and preserving land that has been passed down for generations. The deer, antelope, eagles, mice, fish, snakes and who knows what else all flourish here. The cattle are allowed to graze freely. They aren’t interrupted by concrete buildings or interstates or kept in feed lots. Their natural circle of life is permitted and protected. Out here they just get to be.
Out in the Sandhills, WE just get to be.
Nebraska tends to be forgotten against the many “destinations” places in America and according to our new tourism board slogan “Nebraska, it isn’t for everyone” they might just be right. It’s not for everyone. Some don’t see luxury in solitude but rather they thrive in the chaos. Or their idea of a getaway isn’t to disconnect and recenter themselves.. and thats okay! If Nebraska was for everyone our Sandhills would be tainted with people and buildings. Their magic would fade away and become a place where footsteps wouldn’t be the only thing left behind.
But with all that being said..
Come to the Sandhills. Appreciate the Sandhills. Feel the Sandhills. And lastly Respect the Sandhills.
“Anyone can love the mountains, but it takes a soul to love the prairie.“- Our good friend, Willa Cather