The center is an old yellow caboose, still set up the way it was when it was in use on Union Pacific Railroad.
The wind was blowing pretty hard today and the caboose had the slightest swaying feel to it. The sway and the rhythmic clang of the flag-pole clip against the metal pole were hypnotic as the afternoon wore on and I had some difficulty staying awake for an hour or so.
The person who staffed the caboose this morning had 26 visitors but I only had nine all afternoon. I like it better when I have a steady stream of visitors stopping in. It's interesting to talk to the people who stop to check out the caboose. Sometimes the visitors are just curious about the caboose but I usually try to convince them they need to take some of our literature with them when they leave.
The one thing I tell all of them is they need to visit Cody Park. It's been called North Platte's best-kept secret. The charm of Cody Park in the summer is the old-fashoined feeling of family that fills the park each evening. There are the kiddie rides and the beautiful carousel and a wide variety of animals. I almost expect to hear strains of "In the Good Old Summertime."
Tonight the peacocks were strutting their stuff for the visitors. (Well, I actually think it's for the benefit of the peahens, but I won't tell the visitors.)
The main thing I tell visitors to the caboose is to stop at the concession stand at Cody Park. They make THE BEST soft ice cream I've ever tasted. I buy a baby-size cone, which probably holds a little more than half a cup of ice cream, and that's enough for me. Not that I couldn't eat more, but........
You meet an interesting mix of people when you are in a tourist center. Last summer one couple traveling by motorhome asked what interesting things there were to do around North Platte. I found them plenty of information. They said they both retired (and I suspect it was early retirement because neither one looked 60 years old), sold their home and all their belongings and bought the motorhome. They travel the United States year-round, spending anywhere from a few days to a few weeks in one spot, depending on the amount of what there is to see and do in that area. They had just come from spending two weeks in the Omaha area.
That's what I would like to do if I won the lottery - buy a motorhome, find one or two others who like to travel and just set out on an adventure. Just go wherever our whims take us, park the motorhome for a few days in an interesting spot and do some sightseeing. I always thought I could call myself a "minor" Charles Kuralt.
There are interesting stories everywhere in this country. Some of them are right under your nose. One of the interesting stories might even be you!
Since I almost never buy a lottery ticket, I don't suppose this is ever going to happen, but it's a nice dream for "some day."
If you are ever traveling down Interstate 80, take the exit at North Platte and come out to the caboose. I'll work three afternoons a week and I'll look forward to visiting with you. If I'm asleep, please wake me up!