In Search of the Homestead – Day 1 on the road   Leave a comment

The landscape of eastern Colorado from I-76 has seen little change through the ages; it seems to serve only as a place to go through to somewhere else.  The wind often howls and the main source of water arrives in the form of rain.  There are no trees and only real vegetation you see is sage brush, tumbleweeds.  Occasionally when there is an exceptional amount of rain there are wild flowers.  Only once in all the times I have been on this interstate have I seen an array of wild flowers – or what most of us would call weeds and that was in 2009 when my late husband I were returning from a trip to Minnesota.  It truly was a sight to behold, red, blue, purple and blue flowers filled the drainage areas from the highway – it was spectacular. 

I was worried that the boredom of the ride would make the 7 hour trip to Nebraska unbearable.  I think when you’re driving the time goes faster because you are concentrating on the road, passing trucks and wondering how many more miles to the next rest stop because you drank too much coffee.  (LOL)  I try to think about something besides where the next rest stop is, which I will warn you if you ever travel this highway,  are very few and very far between in the state of Colorado.  My thoughts drift to those pioneer women with those long hot dresses walking beside the wagon through this windswept area.  There were no rest stops for them; there wasn’t even a tree to go behind for a little privacy.  So what did they do?  I really don’t have any answers for this, I suppose I could goggle it but it’s late and if you want to know I’ll let you do the search.  What about the so called “curse?”  There were no quick stops on the trail – actually there are no quick stops on the interstate either.   How much of their pride did they actually have to give up obtaining the so called “free land”?   You always hear about how brave the men were to follow their dreams into the wilderness to find freedom and land, but I think the women were the real courageous ones. 

Well I guess you can see where my mind was as I raced down I-76 and I-80 at 75 miles per hour. 

I arrived in Holdrege with no problems until I tried to find the Super 8.  In my mind I just knew it was on the east side of town when in reality it was on the west side, or was that south?   There are no mountains in Nebraska to help the directionally challenged find their way – ha ha. 

The evening of May 15th was spent with the most loving people I have ever met.  I barely know Marvin and Mary Arehart, who are my 5th cousins and who I have only been with 3 times.  The last few times I have been in Nebraska I have made a point of stopping to visit with them.  They greet me with arms open and are genuinely glad to spend time with me.  I believe that there is a blood bond that unites us with family regardless of the number of generations between us.  During dinner Mary hands me a paperback book and tells me that she wants me to have it.  On the cover of the book is a painting of a small boy and his mother looking out into the distance, the book is titled “God’s Yard Light” and that’s when I notice that Mary is the author.  I was so pleased to have a copy of this book about her son David, not only because she wrote it, but because I know what she went through to write it and how the publisher lost the original that was all hand written, so she had to re-write the entire book from scratch.  She spoke of the book when I visited her in 2009 and she mentioned to me that she probably would not complete it so I was very pleased to see that she had.

Transcribed from Mary E. Aerhart’s book:

“I will never forget the night that David and I stood peering out into the darkness from the road that ran east and west in front of our farm.  David was a young man at the time but he still loved to look at the lights of our neighbor’s homes that were all around us.  He knew by the direction and location exactly which of his neighbors lived by the glow of each particular light.  He pointed and identified each one that he could see, and then he looked up in the sky and pointed to the moon and said, “There’s God’s yard light.”  It was then that I knew someday David’s story would need to be told, but it would have to wait until time could bring healing and understanding to the life of a young boy and his family who loved him.”

“Recently, as my writing was nearly complete, I told David that I was writing a book about him.  He looked at me in utter disbelief.  I said to him again, “David I am writing a book about you.”  Tears came to his eyes and he leaned over and kissed me ever so gently.  Thank you, Lord, He understands.”

It was such a wonderful evening and they tried to convince me to stay another day with them.  The temptation to spend more time with them was difficult to resist.  The evening ended with big warm hugs, kisses and yes even a few tears from two of the most gentle; loving and giving people I have ever known.

Wednesday morning I’m off to “Nebraska”.  I’ll explain that comment tomorrow.




Posted May 18, 2012 by Terri Kallio/Site Coordinator in Uncategorized

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