Derek Johnson Muses

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Seward Nooks: South Tracks

It’s been more than a week since I’ve posted, a lifetime for this blog. This is of course the time of year where I post a lot over on Huskermax.com, and will continue to do so for the rest of the year. Last year, fall was a time where I felt I didn’t have a lot to say, and that has proven to be the case again this year. But I still have plenty of photos, and these shots come from around my new end of town.

The empty place...

The empty place…

This house is right down the street from where I live. It’s the prototypical empty house, with some overgrown bushes and grass, but it probably wouldn’t take that much work to be a livable home. I hope someone jumps on it.

Step up!

Step up!

Stairs for a sidewalk are like basements that you can go outside through, signs of geographic anomalies that cause for such construction. I always think of sidewalk-stairs as a special place, even though I never use them because they are on tighter streets that I never feel like walking on.

Last Side Road out of Dodge...

Last Side Road out of Dodge…

Highway 15 isn’t the only southbound street that leads out of Seward.  Second runs out of town on a country road (as does South Columbia for that matter). It’s a backroad to Wal-Mart.

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Rail Tracks…

Railroad tracks make up Seward’s south border. Even from my house, I can still hear the trains as they rumble by at night. I’ve gotten more used to it over the last couple of months, but it’s still bothersome.

Power Grid...

Power Grid…

I’m sure this mess of steel, right on the north side of the tracks, is where I get my electricity from.

Up and away...

Up and away…

Right down the railroad tracks, next to the highway is  a station where I get my sand for work. They also deal in concrete and other raw building material.

What....

What….

This looks like a water tower, but as a kid, I always thought that it poured out sand. It’s probably an old water tower or something.

Turn...

Turn…

On the right is new office space that was built four or five years ago, along with some storage units. It’s one of the newer units in Seward, and very respectable. And as you can see, the tracks just go on in the distance, toward Pac-‘N’-Save, Hughes Brothers, and the Fairgrounds.

Seward Nooks: The Golf Side

There are certain trademarks of the small community, or of urban sprawl through communities where not every farmer wants to sell his land.

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Corn Field off a Paved Street…

…is one of the more prevalent of these signs. This one is off North Eighth Street in Seward, and it just feels odd. I know a town-line has to be somewhere, but still. Sometimes, I wish we as a town could just waste money on a wall so we didn’t have to look at stuff like this.

Three Way...

Three Way…

This sign presides over one of those dreaded traffic circles. At least this traffic circle wasn’t rammed into a place where a stoplight would work just fine, although I’m not sure they needed to build an angle street in this neighborhood just east of the field. Maybe it’s because of the hill, or just an attempt to look classy. 

DSCN9925Golf Club Lane…

This is the turnoff for the golf course. The same golf course that hams the cornfield above into a block of houses. Seriously, farmer-whoever, what did you get offered for that land? I’ll start a petition tomorrow to get that land sold if I was actually industrious. 

Crosser...

Crosser…

This an odd rip-off of an on/off ramp on a interstate, except it’s a crude on/off ramp for Highway 15 right as you come into Seward. I’m not sure why it has to curve in such a drastic fashion, but that’s the way it is.

What will always be Sunderman...

What will always be Sunderman…

This building is now called Ridgewood, but it’s the place where I volunteered in high school and where my grandmother lived her last years. I will always think of it as Sunderman, with the crappy beige walls and the tiled floors. I don’t know why they chose to cut down those trees on the left side of the picture, but I think it has something to do with the photo below. (Side note: the little gazebo is gone too.)

The Nursing Home...

The Nursing Home…

They must be building some kind of edition to Sunder-ahhh, Ridgewood. It seems sad that they would tear one of the older buildings down, but I guess I understand it. I’m glad Seward will have these places for years to come.

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Benched…

This bench was the place of a pivotal life conversation I had over ten years ago. That’s all I’m going to say.

Road Side...

Road Side…

Across the street from Sunderman (sorry, can’t change it) East is the high football field. Someday, I wish they’d gut those stands and move games to Concordia on a permanent basis, even if it completes the school

Seward Nooks: South Trail

As I’ve written before, I love to walk, although since I moved I walk downtown more than I do on the trail near my new home. Technically, it’s the same walking trail as I used to walk on every day at my previous residence, but as you will see, the route feels a bit more cramped, and quite frankly, less inviting in certain spots.

Big Crossing...

Big Crossing…

The worst part of my walk is this intersection of US Highway 34, which is too wide, and at this moment, under construction. But it’s either cross here, or cross a bridge with highway traffic on it, so I always dart in front of the incoming traffic. (For Lutherans, the LCMS Nebraska District office is in the background on the left.)

Downhill...

Downhill…

Up a block from that vast highway cavern, I turn and head down to the low-land floodplain. It’s one of the better streets of old houses in Seward, as all of them are well maintained and have genuine old-world charm that’s unique to each house. Don’t get me started on the cul-de-sac at the bottom of the hill, though.

Bridge....

Bridge….

This is the bridge I have to cross to get to the main trail, and while the bridge is broad and modern, but the pedestrian walk-way is narrow and not big enough for two people to pass by each other. At least it’s not as busy as the interstate. After the narrow crossing I have to go down a narrow connector path to get to…

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..the end of a spur.

This is where real trail begins. The John Deere repair place is in the background, on the other side of the soybean field. The trail is basically a whole bunch of curves around the river.

Curvature

Curvature

See.

Underneath...

Underneath…

This part of the trail runs beneath US Highway 34. It’s the one part of Seward that feels strangely urban, with the shadows and the lights along the top. But you can always see the greenery from either side.

Downtown...

Downtown…

More curves and greenery. Off to the right is a small parking area with a couple of historical markers, one of I don’t think I’ve ever read, and another one of those tall Nebraska historical plaques, blue and metal. There’s also a picnic table that I’ve never eaten at. But if I was driving through town on a business trip, I’d like to eat my lunch there.

Emptier....

Emptier….

A few paces down fro the picnic area, this drain hangs over the river. It may not empty anything into the river, in fact it probably doesn’t. There’s a lot I don’t know about this town.

Dome....

Dome….

The south tail of the trail runs by the ever bright sewage/water cleaning facility of the great city of Seward, right by this weird dome. It looks like the Trop in Tampa, where the Tampa Bay Rays play, not a great for them.

Gravel Street...

End Line…

Here’s where the trail ends, at Columbia Street across from a farmhouse and field complete with livestock, which you can just make out in the picture above. Columbia turns to gravel just before the it gets to the paved trail, and if there’s a sure sign of a rural town, it’s a gravel street and livestock within city limits.

Hibernation...

Hibernation…

On the other side of the fence is this winter-bear-float. I think this a Fourth of July Float, but I’m not sure since I never go to the parade. Either way, it looks so cheap in this city yard down on South Columbia in almost-ghetto. You think the city could find some empty shed to put it in.

It’s a long uphill walk, but I don’t think it’s that bad. It’s certainly not as bad as having to go down a steep hill when you’re tired and try to keep yourself from stumbling and falling all over yourself. On the left are the cheap Fox Run Apartments. When I worked at Valentino’s, I had to deliver to a woman in those apartments who always ordered an extra-cheese, extra-black olives small pizza.

Uphill...

Uphill…

This headless mailbox stands in front of an empty house. Like I said before, my neighborhood is a mixed bag of homes that are kept up and homes that have been neglected, the degrees of neglect range from semi to major.

Turn Sign...

Turn Sign…

Here’s where I turn off Columbia. This street runs one way for a single block to accommodate parking for the vision clinic and the insurance agency, hence the reason there’s an inordinate amount of traffic bothering me. I have never liked that this street runs one way,  but if it’s good for the eye clinic, I get that.

Seward Nooks: Loose West Ends

Even though it doesn’t always feel like it, I’ve lived in and around Seward, Nebraska for the vast majority of my life. I drive on the same roads, go to the same stores, and have outlasted several business. The whole town keeps telling me the same story every day, and even though it gets a bit stale sometimes, the story doesn’t totally suck.

So to that end, I put together a diary of some of the nooks around tow. The first little area is one I drove by all the time on Bluff Road/Hillcrest Street back in high school, and still do occasionally when I go to the Pac-‘N’-Save or to visit my uncle.

Bend in the Road....

Bend….

If this road were any good, I probably would have used more than I have, especially when we lived outside of Seward. It is the first country road west of Seward between US 34 and Bluff Road, curving with the river at the road’s north-most point. Every time there are extensive rains, the road turns to mush. I avoid it even on days when it doesn’t rain because the ruts that are left 250-grade pickups have messed the whole road up. When I’m out scouting fields, the ruts on this roads are the benchmarks for terrain I’m willing to go on.

The Bridge...

The Bridge…

This is the bridge on Bluff Road, right next to the curve and the end of the road I mentioned above. Most of the bridges that link country roads across the Blue River in the Seward area are like this: shoddy metal bridges that I would stop in front of if another vehicle was approaching from the opposite direction. And I know it must be a legal issue, but do we really have trucks rumbling down these country roads that get anywhere close to ten tons, much less the fifteen ton, advertised limit?

One that Got Away...

One that Got Away…

I can remember when this little turn off was first cut into East Hillcrest back in the mid-to-late 90’s. It was intended that this would be the second of two streets across from where the E-Free Church was at the time. It’s been fifteen or sixteen years, and not a single piece of ground has broken on this whole lot.

As a matter of fact...

As a matter of fact…

They haven’t even filed in the lots on the other street, Augusta Drive. (In their defense, they’ve come pretty close.) My best estimation, thirty or forty houses have been built in Seward since those curbs cuts were made. But it’s easy to see why nothing has been done. There are plenty of places to build in Seward where you feel more connected to the community.  Meanwhile, this fake sidewalk meanders on. Too bad we can’t get our tax dollars back on this one.

Twist and Shout...

Twist and Shout…

I’ve never heard of an accident at this intersection, but it’s an accident waiting to happen. The road is part of a thru-route and quite busy, there’s a yield sign to the city traffic, and if you turn west, you go straight over the tracks. Seriously, city-planner-who-designed-this, couldn’t you have kept the road on the west side of the tracks until it got to Bluff Road? Okay, I’m sure it’s a flood-plain issues, but I don’t think the issue would be any better or worse going the way you did.

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Bail Up!

East of that road and southwest of that development that wasn’t is this hayfield which gets mowed every so often. It’s not the worst location in the world, except that’s it is probably considered a flood plain. During the Seward County Fair, it be a great place to have a food stand, but until then, someone will probably keep bailing hay there, even it’s just so conspicuous.

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