Valentine, Nebraska Day

What are residents of Valentine, Nebraska called? Valentines? I hope so.

Eleven years ago I was there in Valentine — amidst a six-week Great Plains roadtrip. I really enjoyed much of western Nebraska. A look at Fort Robinson, where Crazy Horse was betrayed (you can stay in the barracks if you want). A solitary walk through the open plains panhandle’s Toadstool Geologic State Park. A picnic with Wyoming views up top the massive, unreal Scott’s Bluff National Monument. In the cow town of Valentine, I stayed the night. I looked at the Niobrara River, I bought a pair of Wranglers on Main Street that I still wear and I met two locals, local Valentines, who caught my attention.

Here’s my diary excerpts from May 2001:

A 77-yr-old man runs the Valentine Motel on Hwy 20, just east of Main St. Nice car out front, I mentioned. ‘Yes sir,’ deep clear voice. “That was my wife’s first car. ’53 Ford. I told her not to sell it, when she did, I went back to the dealer and bought it.” Lots of dolls in the lobby, and 1960s/70s Neb postcards for sale: four for a dollar.”Oh that’s not even a bit of them. There’s dolls all over the house. Some say this is more of a museum than a motel. The collection goes back 200 years.” His family has been in Nebraska for 53 years. Answered promptly, as if he expected.

Then I went for supper.

Forty-something waitress at Jordan’s Café sat down at my table, coffeepot in hand, when I asked about canoeing the Niobrara. She’s never seen a snake out there, “but I can’t stand them. If I see a water snake that big (gestures about her full reach, about five-foot-five) I’m out of the water.”

Happy Valentine’s Day Valentine.

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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