Monday, July 29, 2019

Driving The Punjabi Road

Overton, NE
Sitting in the middle of Nebraska in Overton, west of Kearney is quite a gem.  I call it the best 1/2 star truck stop in the world and better yet it is just one of a series of such truck stops.  They are not a chain and not centrally owned, but all have a similar theme.  I call it, "Following the Punjabi Road", The Los Angeles Times wrote an article a month ago, calling I-40 the Punjabi American Highway, where many of the immigrant truckers from the State of Punjabi drive routes to Arkansas and Indiana.

There is more to travel than a bunch of bland extremely overpriced monopolistic truck stops called Flying J, Pilot, Travel Center and Love's (Flying J and Pilot are owned by same company including Warren Buffet), but you need to take a chance.

These hidden gems are scattered out here serving the Indian Truckers, There is the one in Sayre, OK on I-40 near Lawton featured in the LATimes article which we will hit in September that is vegetarian and leans more Sikh, although a Sikh trucker driving for the Singh Lines was a couple of booths away happily eating his lunch in Overton and talking in native tongue to the owner's son, serving him.  These are in Deming NM, Laramie WY, and somewhere just in the border in WY and many other places.

Punjabi-operated truck stops
 from the LATimes
There are Punjabi trucker schools, mechanic shops and these truck stops cater to them more than just the food.  The owners of the place in Overton, the Chaudhery's sent their two sons to business school in Lincoln at Univ Neb to help run the operation.  

These truck stops are also giving them great prices on fuel.

These have the cheapest diesel of any truck stops by far.  Near by to Overton, the Pilot charges $3.02 for diesel but Jay's the Truck stop in Overton, Nebraska.....$2.58

$44 cents a gallon cheaper?  That is no typo.  I saved $30 on a 2/3 fill, for a trucker?  Wow!   Why give your money to Warren Buffet?  I can go on how Love's etc is gouging America's travelers but I won't get into that.  Now this truck stop ain't much to look at and is just out of a 1982 movie, or is it 1975?  The expansive parking area is rough, and filled with pot holes, ruts, and weeds.  It desperately needs gravel and a grader.  The whole place needs a coat of paint, maybe three.  They are unbranded as that costs money.  The bathrooms, well I've had worse in outhouses, but that isn't saying much and the whole place hasn't had a cent of overhead done to it in a decade.  The Chaudhery's run a low overhead operation, and you know, I'd rather buy cheap diesel, but the restaurant was clean, even though the booths had lumpy seats.  

The food, though, IS to die for!  Wow!  Like best meal for 15 bucks a man could eat!
The naan bread is the best I've eaten and the curried chicken good and the coconut milk chicken was even better than that.  It was the highlight of the day!

One happy passenger boarding Big Bird filled with coconut chicken goodness.  

So do the Punjabi Highway, save a few bucks and have some good food and find these gems, just don't worry about the outside.  Come eat until you're stuffed and drive off happy.  Exit 248 on I-80 should be circled on your road atlas.  I'll report from Lawton next month.


PS.  a few wildlife shots...
Some bugs of Nebraska:
Common checkered skipper

Gray Copper

Colorado bugs:
Colorado haistreak (state butterfly of CO)

Mountain checkered skipper 

Dun skipper (cell phone camera)

taxiles skipper (cell phone camera)

Some birds:  I was hand feeding the hummers, and from hanging a feeder on my awning on the RV, but even though I got a good haul of birds, cameras and pictures were scarce where we were camping (banned?) so all I have are these.

Broad-tailed hummingbirds

rufous hummingbirds

Juvenile western bluebird

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

You know...we are at the end...

We are camping at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Akron, Colorado.  A couple with a baby and a chihuahua walks past while I am photographing a tornado (above).  "You know it's the end!"  The woman says to my wife.
       "What you say?"  My wife replies.
       "You know it's the end!"  She repeats.
      "I don't think the tornado is coming this way."  My wife replies ignoring the question about salvation given to us poor tourists from South Dakota
       The woman tried to reengage my wife about her being saved and she just wasn't getting what the woman was asking so finally as the rain came, "God bless you." she said scurrying away, dragging the chihuahua who possibly wanted to stay, I had just made a steak, it smelled good outside. has been one of those days, answers to questions not asked, directions given to places we aren't going, and solutions to problems we don't have.
     Ah travel, got to love it.
     I'm just thinking I may have come up with a pithier answer.
     We lived the parable of the sewing and harvesting of wheat today, except even those seeds sowed on the ground here, bad ground which is marginal looks really good, so go figure, maybe that is me, sew the Good News with marginal me, and maybe even that will even bear fruit.

They've had so much rain up in NE Colorado there is even standing water and American Avocets, something this drought prone country rarely has.   McCown's longspurs were playing in the mud (photographs for another time) and I even got a spotted sandpiper

I'm up here doing a little business on my way to a convention, Big Bird the RV is out and about and we are doing the camping thing, we were up in Minneapolis and got to see the Union Pacific Big Boy drive past
UP 4014 BigBoy, only functional 4-8-8-4 left operational, built 1941

I had a presentation at the Minnesota Global Birding meeting in Uptown in Downtown Minneapolis and on my third slide the power went out and stayed out for the entire period until 5 minutes before closing and I had stopped giving my photo-less description of the birds of the South came back on 1 hour 40 minutes after it went out, it couldn't have been more precise to screw up my presentation...It was the biggest fiasco in public speaking, maybe even birding, and it was so Olaf.....I spent so much time on that talk, I could have cried, but actually I did.

so then we headed west, and stayed last night dry camping at a boat landing ten miles west of Lincoln, NE, I had taken steroids for my trismus (jaw pain) and frozen jaw from too much oral surgery last month and I got severe abdominal pain, that at times put me to tears, or maybe it was just the jaw pain, or was the dang presentation....what are the odds of a power failure....

It wasn't all for naught, as I heard my year bobwhite and I got a photograph of a silver spotted skipper, the commonest skipper but one I hadn't photographed before

So tonight, I'm thinking this is my lucky week...
I got severe gastritis
I had the presentation from hell
The dog had diarrhea twice in the RV
The internet where we camped in Minneapolis went out
The Twins blew a big lead again the Yanks
My computer fried a motherboard, and 800 bucks to fix so I'm pitching it, I got most everything transferred out

Why do I think its been so lucky?
because the tornado didn't hit us, being this close to the ends times, I guess I guy needs to be careful...and is so nice to get out with the RV, spend time with my wife, and see and experience new things, I'm sure I got a chapter in a book about this trip and we really haven't gotten anywhere yet

More to come....mountains tomorrow, if this continues there are going to be a lot of blogs because there is going to be some really crazy things happening

be safe, the end is nigh and it will come like a thief in the night or so I've read


Golden dreams and memories

  Today brings me to the north suburbs of Chicago.  Although not for a bird even though a lifer bird had been flying tantalizingly close to ...