To travel or not to travel. That is sometimes the question.
Whether to travel was no question for me as I packed up and headed east for Plattsmouth last Thursday. Quarterly board meetings of the Nebraska Community Foundation board take us to all parts of the state. What a great opportunity to get first-hand looks at communities served by NCF, each having its own unique claim to pride.
Pender, Thurston, Shickley, Bruning, Thedford, Ashland, Fremont, McCook, Ogallala, Paxton and Imperial mark some of our meeting spots. In some instances, I very well might have never entered the community’s city limits. Not only have I passed through unfamiliar parts of the state, but I’ve met some amazing dedicated people who share warm hospitality.
And I’m especially impressed that western Nebraska is also given the chance to show what we have on this end of the state.
Searching for the destination of this meeting found me Map Questing Plattsmouth. Years ago when we were involved with the Wauneta theater, I sent box office reports and a check to Main Street Theatres in Plattsmouth every week, home of our booking agent. Just maybe I might see that locale more than a decade later.
With my GPS and printed directions at hand, I was off on my six-hour journey. After a couple hours, snow flurries began along with wind. I heard from Celeste, our daughter in Lincoln, who was surprised to see how much snow had accumulated there when she got out of class. So I could expect more than just flurries ahead.
Hmmmm? What’s happening here? Why is everyone creeping along in the right lane? I joined their move in merging right. We slowed to less than 10 mph to find that we were being guided off the Interstate by the State Patrol.
What??? The weather certainly wasn’t that threatening.
I called 511 to learn that stretch of Interstate was closed due to an accident. Oh, so this was a temporary closing. Should I try Hwy. 6 to the south or Hwy. 30 to the north? Reports indicated both had snow and ice.
Another traveler was on his way to his daughter’s wedding celebration and he had no question but to keep moving. I like to think that I offer some input serving on a board but this meeting could certainly go on without me. What to do?
Beyond the meeting, I always enjoy the connection with people and the extra activities. I was thinking out loud when I questioned if I should just turn around. The guy at the convenience store counter responded, “That would definitely be the safer thing to do.”
I’ve traveled in several storms before, always getting where I’m going eventually despite some scary moments. But at what point do you just choose “safer?” And that’s what I did. After spending close to half a day going east, I became westbound. I reached the point when there was no sign of snow and questioned if I had really just cancelled my trip.
I later learned that there was a 52-vehicle pileup in the path where I was headed. Whew! I was relieved not to have made that a 53-vehicle statistic. Even those who didn’t end up with car damage dealt with 2 ½ hour travel delays and no doubt a tad bit of stress.
Plus as I approached Ogallala, I learned that my daughter was ill and my son-in-law was out of town. Was there any way I could pick up the kids? Well you bet. I’d love to. It was music to my ears to hear the surprised shouts of, “Gramma!!!!” as the kids jumped to me with flying hugs. The lady in charge had no doubt that it was okay to release them to me.
This is definitely where I was needed and my return there was meant to be.
Unfortunately, the accident that caused the road closing that led me to turn around involved the death of a 39-year-old woman. No matter how much we think we must travel, it just isn’t worth risking life. It makes me thankful for all the times we did survive despite the danger.
Take heed as you travel! Be safe!
LORI PANKONIN is co-publisher of Johnson Publications newspapers in Imperial, Wauneta and Grant, and part-owner of the Holyoke Enterprise in Holyoke, Colo. E-mail: