Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Runnin’ at the Platte

For the three of us older bottle-collecting-siblings, one of our preferred family playground destinations in the 60’s was the Platte River in Nebraska. Platte, as named by the French traders, means shallow or flat. The Platte River in the summer was more akin to a wide sandbox with little streams of water running between the sandbars. It was a great place to let loose and play all day.

Now I know that our trips to play at the Platte were mostly due to the fact that, as my mom would freely admit, my parents were young, poor, and needed to entertain three kids, as well as themselves. Still, looking back, it was a perfect playground and guaranteed a full day of entertainment. It also seemed like wherever we lived in Nebraska, we lived near the Platte. I would have been playing with my sister, the one I’ll call High Powered Executive, while my older brother, whom I could call El Dictator, was very likely off fishing with my dad in the main channel of the river.

(See Platte River Alliance tour - Photo Gallery One)

What made the Platte River so special was the fact that it is a shallow braided river. During the summer water levels were low and entertainment value was high. First, there was the wide expanse of sand. Then there was the water. Sand and water were always a big draw for my siblings. One of our favorite sandbox games was Flood! but that is perhaps a story for another time. (As a family we did experience a flood, of the Platte River, which likely fueled our zest for this game.)

What I recall now are days spent running along the sandbars, splashing through shallow water, trying to catch minnows, looking for small clams, digging canals, finding beautiful rocks, and, well, using our imaginations. There was nothing like spending a day outside running across the sandbars and through the shallow water at the Platte.

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