Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Some Facts on the Middle of Nowhere and Its Burning

Keya Paha County.   Pronounced 'keypaha' quick out the mouth. The word is Lakota for 'Turtle Hill', more or less.  The county seat is Springview. pop.  two hundred and forty two. the county's overall population is eight hundred and twenty four.  One of several dozen counties on the Great Plains that are in truth far to small to actually function as such. The sheriff once elected can count on a lifetime appointment for so long as he doesn't offend some branch of cousins; and finding twelve jurors unconnected to either aggrieved or accused is of course a fantastic impossibility.  Occasionally there's been idle talk of breaking up the county and placing the land under the authority of Ainsworth or Valentine; these being the nearest towns large enough for doctors, motels, and courthouses with actual employees instead of scattered archives.  Generally though the spectre of dissolving established counties is viewed as something that would be the most villianous outrage at the hands of urban elites. 

The economy of Keya Paha is based mostly on ranching and tourism.  Or more generally upon the lands generosity of bounty, beauty, and not being on fire.  Rafting on the Niobrara River draws crowds from the distant cities.  The current blaze burns on both sides of the river, jumping it as casually as a crack in the sidewalk. A most impressive feat even with the drought conditions.  Fire on dry prairie grass can move at speeds greater than fifty miles an hour. There are several cases of firefighters or cowboys, (In the north Nebraska hills, generally one conscripted into the other) being broiled instead of bashed into paraplegia, because they had been within a hundred yards of their quarry when the wind changed, as it tends to here.  The size and unpredictible wondering of this fire has forced the evacuation of both Sparks, (Pop. 7) and Meadville Nebraska, (Ghost town with an up and running beer store)  Authorities were succesfully able to clear both places without stampede. 

To reach Springview from Omaha, follow the Fremont/West Dodge freeway until it ends.  continue northwest on US 275 until it itself ends at O'Neill.  From there US 20 west to Basset, and finally state route 7 north to Springview.  From Lincoln the simplest route (Though not the fastest, look that up your damn self.) is to take US 77 north to Fremont, and then the same route as before from there.  The market town of Norfolk (Generally pronounced 'Nor-fork' or sometimes 'Norfiryk') would be probably the best place to stop for lunch or top off your gas tank.  Please respect the work of emergency responders by not masturbating to the sight of fire directly in front of them.

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