In northern Nebraska lies the town of Valentine. It sits near the Niobrara River in a place where east meets west and north meets south, according to the brochure for the Niobrara National Scenic River. This is the western edge for many eastern species and vice versa. To the south is the Sandhills and to the north the landscape changes.
The town was once a rowdy, wild west town. Old Jules told of his visit there while en route to settle in the Sandhills farther west. There he saw the outlaw who inspired his imagination for years (and later saved his life).
In recent years it is more known as "The Heart City" as many people send their St. Valentine's Day cards here to be stamped.
Last week we stopped in Valentine, both going and coming, from our mission trip to Pine Ridge, South Dakota. We had lunch at the Cedar Canyon Steakhouse both times. The food was good and inexpensive and the desserts are not to be missed.
On the way back we took in some of the sites. We drove through the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, where we saw prairie dogs, bison, and elk. We crossed the river on the Berry Bridge and then headed to Smith Falls State Park to play and swim.
The water of the falls and the creek was cold, especially compared with the much warmer water of the river. The falls are most beautifully arrayed, as the stream comes over a knob and then cascades down all the sides, with fun places to stand and sit under them. We were there mid-day, just after the solstice, and the sun stood just above the falls, glistening through the water. It was a delight.