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Flight Sim 2020 - River Adventures

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#1
I'm making a thread to document my Flight Sim river adventures. With no career mode available at launch, I decided to combine THE SIM with my day job and tour and explore some great rivers! I'll add some nerdy notes about river geomorphology and I also hope to learn a lot with my parallel research for this. I'm not sure how many rivers I'll fly, but even the first river should produce enough content to warrant it's own thread and not clutter the SIM thread.

North Platte River Adventure:

The first river adventure will be the North Platte! We begin our adventure at the Walden - Jackson County airport in Northern Colorado. The whole of North Park is the headwaters of the North Platte River, but the river begins its officially named journey at the confluence of Grizzly Creek and Little Grizzly creek, just southwest of Walden near highway 14. From this unassuming beginning it rapidly picks up volume as other small creeks throughout North Park contribute their volume. From here it travels just over 700 miles through Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska before emptying into the Missouri River. I'll break this trip down into many different legs and I might super sim through Nebraska :nebraskaman:

Jackson County Airport:
1598033684240.png

Our flight plan takes a short loop south of Walden where we’ll gain some altitude to appreciate North Park, bordered by the Never Summer Mountains on the east and the Zirkel Range on the west. Then we’ll fly to the confluence of Grizzly Creeks and begin our journey along one of the most famous rivers in the west. Here's a photo of the Zirkel Mountains from North Park. You can see a couple of my favorite fishing lakes barely in view, but don't worry we'll swing closer!

Zirkel Mountains:
1598033691493.png

Grizzly Creek on the right meets with Little Grizzly Creek on the left. At the confluence they change names to the North Platte River! Name changes of rivers are fairly common in the west, where one explorer might name a lower section of the river something different than other explorers who had already named an upper section of the river. In some cases they changed one name or the other, and in other cases they just change the name at a confluence. In this case they opted to keep both Grizzly Creeks named as such and just start the North Platte River name at the confluence. My favorite example of this is the Wind River/Big Horn River in Wyoming, which changes names at the bottom of a canyon with no confluence to even give legitimacy to the name change. The location of that name change is called "Wedding of the waters."

Start of the North Platte River at Grizzly Creek Confluence:
1598033700289.png

As we fly North along the river the first foothill we come to just west of the North Platte River is Delaney Butte and the three lakes that share a name. South Delaney is probably my favorite of the three and I have spent a lot of quality time on a float tube or kayak fishing that lake. It is especially fun to fish in the fall once all the mosquitoes have died off. The whole North Platte River valley and all associated creeks use flood irrigation in the spring to grow hay and the mosquitoes are completely out of control

Delaney Butte and Lakes:
1598033709566.png

The North Park section of the river is characterized by highly sinuous morphology. I won't dive too much into river nerding, you can go CJones river meanders if you'd like, but the basic explanation is that rivers will naturally trend toward an equilibrium slope that balances erosion and sedimentation so that the river carries all the sediment that it naturally erodes. In areas where the overall river valley is steeper than the equilibrium slope and the river has lateral room for migration in erodible soils, the river will become highly sinuous to flatten the river slope relative to the valley slope. High mountain streams are often typified by this pattern. Less erodible soils on the edge of the river valley are what constrain the river meanders.

Sinuous river meandering back and forth within the wider river valley:
1598033718816.png

River meanders have a life cycle, they develop and become more and more curved until the river eventually cuts through the curve, usually during a high flow event, and the meander is abandoned. The river in North Park has some amazing examples of this formation process, and the migration process can be viewed and measured through comparing historical aerial photographs to current aerial photographs. Abandoned meander bends form critical wetland habitat for many species, and are the sign of a healthy connection between the river and the floodplain.

Examples of many abandoned/historic meander bends, with the river straightened along the less erodible soils at the edge of the valley:
1598033730072.png

At the northern end of the park, near the Colorado/Wyoming Border, we encounter the mountains at the edge of the park, and our first river canyon for the North Platte. Northgate Canyon is a wonderful stretch of river famous for rafting and fishing opportunities and flows through the North Platte River Wilderness. My first elk/deer hunting spot was near the Colorado/Wyoming border on the east side of the river just above the rim of the canyon. I decided a video would be best for this section of the river, because it's just so pretty. THE SIM does a decent job with this canyon, but as with the other river canyons I've explored so far, things look a lot better if you stay a bit higher in elevation. I'm just glad I didn't kill myself trying to show off my acrobatic flying. This was the first time I've flown with the external cam and I definitely almost crashed at one point!

Near the lower end of Northgate Canyon:
1598032962252.png


South of Northgate Canyon we fly out into the "Upper North Platte Valley" or Saratoga Valley in Wyoming. The river valley is similar to North Park, but you'll notice that the river itself adopts a different plan form within the wider river valley. The river is straighter and wider and the meanders have much lower amplitude. The meander bends that do exist are typified by sedimentation/gravel bars on the inside of the bend and deep holes on the outside of the bend. You'll also see a lot of split flow paths or multiple branches of the river within the wider river valley. At low flows these splits are often dry, but they are activated at higher flows. While the river form has changed dramatically compared to North Park, it is still typified by a good connection between the river and the wider floodplain.

Floating/trespassing laws in Wyoming state that you are allowed to float the river, but you aren't allowed to anchor or touch the bottom. There are definitely some conflicts between old timers who felt they owned the river and recreational boaters and fisherman floating the river. My dad told me a story of an old lady who lived near Bennet Peak who would shoot rock salt at boaters with a shotgun. He told me a story of ducking down into the bottom of his canoe so he wouldn't get peppered. Bennet Peak is some of the coolest public land I've hiked around. It's this little mountain in the middle of the valley and some of the best mule deer habitat around.

North Platte approaching Bennet Peak, I like to imagine this is where the shotgun lady lived!
1598033401184.png

Entering Upper Platte River Valley, note the split channels:
1598033514010.png

We finished today's flight in the middle of the Platte River Valley and had a successful but somewhat derpy landing at Shively Field on the western edge of Saratoga. Came in a little slow/low and almost landed short of the threshold, but managed to pull up just enough to clear the lights on the front of the runway with the stall horn blaring! Time to do some fly fishing this afternoon before continuing our flight tomorrow! I realized I didn't take any photos of the area around Saratoga, so I think I'll actually do a video of that when I start tomorrow's flight. The next leg of the journey will take us from Saratoga to Casper and we'll see a lot more human impact on the river!
 

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#11
Day 2: Saratoga to Casper
I realized I didn’t document the Saratoga area as well as I would have liked yesterday, so I’ll start the day out with a quick video of the takeoff from Shivley field and make a quick spin south to show off the town and the Saratoga In before heading back north on our Journey. As I mentioned at the conclusion of our journey yesterday, we’ll be encountering a lot more human influence on our river tour today! Irrigation activity, diversions, and large reservoirs associated with the casper-alcova project have a large impact on this portion of the river. We’ll also be flying over my favorite stretch of the river for fishing, so I’m excited!

Saratoga area video featuring Saratoga Inn, Lake Saratoga and the valley north of Saratoga with a lot of irrigate


As we move further north in the valley we move into some badlands with heavy alkili deposits on either side of I-80. As I mentioned in the video, this section is much less popular for fishing and boating. The geology in this stretch is pretty amazing.

Entering the badlands:
1598119127967.png

I noticed some really cool erosion patterns while flying through the badlands portion of the valley. I’ve noted erosion patterns of the upland areas while driving on I-80, but seeing it from the air is really cool. There are several areas that feature extensive dendritic erosion patterns. Dendritic means having branched form resembling a tree, so dendritic erosion is aptly named because the patterns really do look like a tree growing up from the main channel

Dendritic Erosion Patterns:
1598119150545.png

One of the coolest things about driving I-80 through this portion of Wyoming is that the geology you can see from the road is stunning. It’s typical to see stratified layers where highway cuts are blasted through hills, but on I-80 you can see where the typical vertical stratification is turned so that it is nearly horizontal instead. This exposes some deeper layers that you migth otherwise not see near the surface. I’m not a geologist, but I speculate this sort of feature is why this portion of Wyoming is so popular among fossil hunters and rockhounds. I found an awesome aerial view of this geologic feature just north of I-80. From the air, you can see stratification all exposed to the surface.

Horizontal stratification exposed to the surface:
1598119180799.png

As we move further north, we see the upper reaches of a reservoir. This is Seminoe Reservoir, the upstream most portion of the Kendrick Project, aka the Casper-Alcova project. The Casper-Alcova was a Bureau of Reclamation project designed for the conservation and storage of irrigation water and later improved to add power generation capabilities as well. Seminoe Reservoir features a storage capacity of over a million acre-feet of water (that’s a lot!).

Seminoe Reservoir in the distance beneath the rising sun:
1598119234342.png

Seminoe Reservoir:
1598119270766.png

The Seminoe Dam was constructed between 1936 and 1939 and was later upgraded in the Mid 1970s to increase power generation capability to 45,000 kilowatts. Seminoe Dam probably wouldn’t be constructed with what we now know about dam building! Two major faults intersect beneath the dam (not good!) and the long-term integrity of the dam is also threatened by a reaction between the natural alkali from soils in the area and the silica in the cement. In the industry they call this reaction “concrete cancer” (seems bad!). If this babby ever went, even the Nebraskamen as far away as TGT would be praying to Heavenly Pete!

Seminoe Dam and Powerplant:
1598119329835.png

Downstream of Seminoe Dam, is a forebay area designed to help stabilize releases made for power generation purposes with Kortes Dam providing more stable releases into the next section of river. This setup incidentally creates wonderful trout habitat downstream of the dam, known as the tailwater effect. Water released from the reservoir is colder and more oxygenated, ideal for trout. Many tailwaters provided great fishing but this stretch of river is especially productive because of the regulated releases from the forebay and the access to downstream Pathfinder Reservoir where fish move seasonally for better feeding opportunities. The result is one of the most famous sections of river in the county for fly fisherman, the “Miracle Mile” section of the North Platte River (actually 5.5 miles). This section of the river is ver wide and flat and honestly doesn’t look like much of a trout stream, but depending on the year and season it holds between 2,000 to 5,000 fish per mile. The numbers are impressive, but the size of fish is what really stands out. The average fish is almost 2 pounds and a high percentage of the population is 3-5lbs or bigger. Many true trophy fish in the 10lb+ and 30”+ range are caught in this section of the river during spawning runs from fish who otherwise live in Pathfinder Reservoir for the remainder of the year.

The Miracle Mile (or 5.5)
1598119361685.png

Next up we have Pathfinder Reservoir, which passes through water for the Casper-Alcova project, but was actually constructed prior to Casper-Alcova in 1909 under a different Bureau of Reclamation Program, the North Platte Project. The North Platte Project (aka Sweetwater Project) stores irrigation water primarily used in eastern Wyoming and Nebraska. Pathfinder Reservoir is the upstream most storage basin for the project and holds over a million acre-feet of water as well. Other features of the North Platte River Project will be prominent river attractions over the next few days!

Pathfinder Reservoir:
1598119390791.png

Pathfinder Dam is truly an engineering marvel, because it was constructed between granite canyon walls between 1905 and 1909 using granite blocks carved out from nearby deposits. The huge rectangular granite blocks were then stacked in courses to form a 214 foot tall arch dam, all held together by a gravity section! An adjacent earthen dam with a concrete core was later built south of the arch dam to fill in a natural depression and create additional storage in the reservoir.

Pathfinder Dam (arch dam on left) and Pathfider Dike Dam (earthen dam on right)
1598119430412.png

Below Pathfinder dam is another short tailwater section of river called Freemont Canyon. I have not personally fished this canyon, but it is supposed to be really good fishing during lower river flow periods. It benefits from many of the same tailwater effects, but without a forebay below Pathfinder Dam, it is subject to a much wider range of flows that can make fishing difficult. It is a visually stunning section of river and requires quite the hike to get in and fish. It was supposed to be a great place to avoid the crowds of the more famous sections of river, but apparently it isn’t a secret anymore because last time I was going to hike in the parking area was full! I decided to fish a lower stretch of river instead.

Freemont Canyon:
1598119459236.png
 

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#12
Now we have another area of river that I think deserves a video highlight. Alcova Reservoir and Dam are part of the Casper-Alcova project and more directly control releases of irrigation water to the Casper-Alcova ditch, which irrigates roughly 24,000 acres of land near Casper, Wyoming and predominately used to grow alfalfa. Alcova reservoir has a total capacity of approximately 180,000 acre feet, with the uppermost 30,000 acre-feet reserved for irrigation use. Alcova Dam is an earthen structure, approximately 260 feet tall and has two 18,000 kilowatt generators for a total capacity of 36,000 kilowatts, though power generation is a secondary use to irrigation diversion.

Below Alcova dam is a forebay called Grey Reef reservoir, controlled by Grey Reef Dam and provides more regulated flows to the downstream river section. This section of river is referred to as “Grey Reef” and is a phenomenal tailwater for fly-fishing. Based on the average number of fish per mile ranging between 3,000 and 8,000 depending on the year and specific area of river, this is probably the best trout fishing in the lower 48. The fish average 1-2 lbs and there are many 5-10 lb fish as well. There aren’t as many monster 10lb+ fish as in the Miracle Mile, but it is a much longer stretch of river and the fishing on an average day is probably better here. Most of this stretch of river is private, but you can still float through as long as you don’t touch the bottom. There are a couple of public sections of river, one near grey reef dam and one called Lusby access area. Lusby is my favorite place to fish ever.


at the end of my favorite section of river, we fly into the western portion of Casper, Wyoming. Casper is the second largest city in Wyoming, with a population of 55,000 (in 2010). Casper sits at the foot of Casper Mountain. Casper is a tough place to live from a weather perspective, with hot summers (95+ for over 30 days on average a year) and extremely cold winters, with temperatures not getting above freezing for 40-50 days a year. The average wind speed for the entire year is 12 miles per hour with winter and spring wind speeds averaging 15-20 mph, woof (@Wuf).

Casper Mountain:
1598119550296.png

The Casper/Natrona County airport is located a good bit north of Casper near an energy support services town called Barr Nunn. There are hundreds of oil and gas companies that maintain operations or repair yards in Barr Nunn. With the oil industry comes other support services, include a massage parlor selection only @bruin or @bruin228 could truly appreciate.

western side of Casper:
1598119598238.png

I'll snag some photos of the massage parlors for bruin when I take off from the airport on the next leg of the journey.
 

kella

Smug know-it-all
Staff member
Administrator
Operations
#17
We flew over the badlands a few years ago from Denver to Helena and it was pretty awesome. I didn't realize they looked like that from the air.
 

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#19
Day 3: Casper to Guernsey
We start our trip where we ended yesterday at the Casper International Airport. I wonder which international destinations they feature? I made a short video discussing Casper and the nearby refinery town of Capser Sinclair, not to be confused with Sinclair Sinclair, which is by Rawlins.

Sinclair Casper refinery and company town:
1598225702906.png

Downstream of the refinery the river loses much of its recreational appeal because it flows directly between Interstate 25 and some railroad tracks. The river temperatures are higher here, in part because of being used for cooling by the refinery and in part because rivers naturally get warmer as they move further downstream. We also start to see more center pivot irrigation in the river valley, a trend that will continue and expand as we move further east. In North Park and the Upper Platte River Valley, most of the agricultural acreage was flood irrigated. There were a few center pivots upstream of Capser as well, but they'll really take off as we move east. By the time we reach the Nebraska border we will have seen too many center pivots to count!

River valley bounded by Interstate 25 and a railroad east of Casper
1598225828498.png
First center pivot east of Casper!
1598225861377.png

Further east, we encounter the town of Glenrock. I didn't know this town even existed because I don't think it has an interstate exit. I knew we weren't far enough east to be at Douglas(s) yet, so I was both confused and intrigued by one of the first new sites of seen on this journey. I zipped down for a closer inspection and hoped the sim would reveal the secrets of this unknown town. My initial impression was "typical 3 stop light Wyoming small town!"

Approaching Glenrock!
1598226107779.png

As I got closer I realized I must be wrong because this town appears to have been overtaken by librul carebears who hate footbaw and love the arctic @bruin @bruin228. They've cancelled footbaw forever because of Covid19 and CTE and planted trees in the middle of the field to help combat global warming and slow the decline of their beloved arctic! What a surprising discovery! I was tempted to land and encounter these strange beings, but I have miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep.

Proof that Glenrock is a librul enclave in Trump Country!
1598226295660.png

East of Glenrock, we encountered an incredibly large Prairie Dog colony, something Real Estate agents in Wyoming like to sell as "a living shooting gallery!" I actually think I see some black cattle down there as well, but the sim hasn't been updated to include livestock yet. You want to see the rare dancing Black Bears? You're in luck! The ubiquitous western cattle, not so much. I shouted "don't break a leg" out my window as I flew over. That rancher probably has quite a few insurance claims when the beef price drops!

So many prairie dogs:
1598226443303.png

Next up we encounter another way humans impact the North Platte River, our largest waste water treatment facility we've encountered so far. By the time this river reaches TGT it will have been drank and pissed probably a dozen times, something I always enjoy thinking about when I feel smug about being upstream of Wyoming and even moreso when I remember how much I hate Nebraskans!

A modern water treatment facility. I should probably know more about this as water resources engineer, but shit always bored me:
1598226597996.png

Below the treatment plant we see the telltale greenish tint of human impacts on the river! That's a result of high nutrient loading, low dissolved oxygen and warm temperatures all caused by us! By the state of things it looks like we've got an algae bloom you can see from space! NOT GOOD! Think of all the carp drinking the birth control that can't be filtered out of our water!
1598226833245.png

Fortunately the green hue only lasts about a quarter mile before some faster flow areas reintroduce enough oxygen to the river and we get back to a more healthy looking blue. Flying through this area, I started to see even more agriculture, with several center pivots jammed in on either side of the river valley. The uplands in this area are badlands as well, so all of the productive soil is in the river bottom. Further east the upland areas will be more productive and we'll see more irrigated acreage outside of the river valley as well.

Dat Juxtaposition! Look at the lush green fields compared to the barren upland areas!
1598227089663.png

Next up we encounter the Town of Douglas(s). When asked to describe Douglas(s) I say it is exactly like Casper, but with even less to do. It has the same dreadful weather, the same energy industry dependence, but fewer recreational opportunities. It allegedly has a "really nice golf course" but from the air it looks like a really nice putt putt golf course! I don't want to shit on Douglas(s) too much and I'm really glad it is there because it makes for a very important pee break after driving for 2 hours and 30 minutes. This ideal piss distance means I have probably stopped and peed in Douglas(s) more than any other town in Wyoming! Notably I have never eaten a meal here because the Subway looked terrible even for a Subway!
1598227282410.png
 
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fried rice

Who wants to sex Mutombo?
#20
Day 2: Saratoga to Casper
I realized I didn’t document the Saratoga area as well as I would have liked yesterday, so I’ll start the day out with a quick video of the takeoff from Shivley field and make a quick spin south to show off the town and the Saratoga In before heading back north on our Journey. As I mentioned at the conclusion of our journey yesterday, we’ll be encountering a lot more human influence on our river tour today! Irrigation activity, diversions, and large reservoirs associated with the casper-alcova project have a large impact on this portion of the river. We’ll also be flying over my favorite stretch of the river for fishing, so I’m excited!

Saratoga area video featuring Saratoga Inn, Lake Saratoga and the valley north of Saratoga with a lot of irrigate


As we move further north in the valley we move into some badlands with heavy alkili deposits on either side of I-80. As I mentioned in the video, this section is much less popular for fishing and boating. The geology in this stretch is pretty amazing.

Entering the badlands:
View attachment 13546

I noticed some really cool erosion patterns while flying through the badlands portion of the valley. I’ve noted erosion patterns of the upland areas while driving on I-80, but seeing it from the air is really cool. There are several areas that feature extensive dendritic erosion patterns. Dendritic means having branched form resembling a tree, so dendritic erosion is aptly named because the patterns really do look like a tree growing up from the main channel

Dendritic Erosion Patterns:
View attachment 13547

One of the coolest things about driving I-80 through this portion of Wyoming is that the geology you can see from the road is stunning. It’s typical to see stratified layers where highway cuts are blasted through hills, but on I-80 you can see where the typical vertical stratification is turned so that it is nearly horizontal instead. This exposes some deeper layers that you migth otherwise not see near the surface. I’m not a geologist, but I speculate this sort of feature is why this portion of Wyoming is so popular among fossil hunters and rockhounds. I found an awesome aerial view of this geologic feature just north of I-80. From the air, you can see stratification all exposed to the surface.

Horizontal stratification exposed to the surface:
View attachment 13548

As we move further north, we see the upper reaches of a reservoir. This is Seminoe Reservoir, the upstream most portion of the Kendrick Project, aka the Casper-Alcova project. The Casper-Alcova was a Bureau of Reclamation project designed for the conservation and storage of irrigation water and later improved to add power generation capabilities as well. Seminoe Reservoir features a storage capacity of over a million acre-feet of water (that’s a lot!).

Seminoe Reservoir in the distance beneath the rising sun:
View attachment 13549

Seminoe Reservoir:
View attachment 13550

The Seminoe Dam was constructed between 1936 and 1939 and was later upgraded in the Mid 1970s to increase power generation capability to 45,000 kilowatts. Seminoe Dam probably wouldn’t be constructed with what we now know about dam building! Two major faults intersect beneath the dam (not good!) and the long-term integrity of the dam is also threatened by a reaction between the natural alkali from soils in the area and the silica in the cement. In the industry they call this reaction “concrete cancer” (seems bad!). If this babby ever went, even the Nebraskamen as far away as TGT would be praying to Heavenly Pete!

Seminoe Dam and Powerplant:
View attachment 13551

Downstream of Seminoe Dam, is a forebay area designed to help stabilize releases made for power generation purposes with Kortes Dam providing more stable releases into the next section of river. This setup incidentally creates wonderful trout habitat downstream of the dam, known as the tailwater effect. Water released from the reservoir is colder and more oxygenated, ideal for trout. Many tailwaters provided great fishing but this stretch of river is especially productive because of the regulated releases from the forebay and the access to downstream Pathfinder Reservoir where fish move seasonally for better feeding opportunities. The result is one of the most famous sections of river in the county for fly fisherman, the “Miracle Mile” section of the North Platte River (actually 5.5 miles). This section of the river is ver wide and flat and honestly doesn’t look like much of a trout stream, but depending on the year and season it holds between 2,000 to 5,000 fish per mile. The numbers are impressive, but the size of fish is what really stands out. The average fish is almost 2 pounds and a high percentage of the population is 3-5lbs or bigger. Many true trophy fish in the 10lb+ and 30”+ range are caught in this section of the river during spawning runs from fish who otherwise live in Pathfinder Reservoir for the remainder of the year.

The Miracle Mile (or 5.5)
View attachment 13552

Next up we have Pathfinder Reservoir, which passes through water for the Casper-Alcova project, but was actually constructed prior to Casper-Alcova in 1909 under a different Bureau of Reclamation Program, the North Platte Project. The North Platte Project (aka Sweetwater Project) stores irrigation water primarily used in eastern Wyoming and Nebraska. Pathfinder Reservoir is the upstream most storage basin for the project and holds over a million acre-feet of water as well. Other features of the North Platte River Project will be prominent river attractions over the next few days!

Pathfinder Reservoir:
View attachment 13553

Pathfinder Dam is truly an engineering marvel, because it was constructed between granite canyon walls between 1905 and 1909 using granite blocks carved out from nearby deposits. The huge rectangular granite blocks were then stacked in courses to form a 214 foot tall arch dam, all held together by a gravity section! An adjacent earthen dam with a concrete core was later built south of the arch dam to fill in a natural depression and create additional storage in the reservoir.

Pathfinder Dam (arch dam on left) and Pathfider Dike Dam (earthen dam on right)
View attachment 13554

Below Pathfinder dam is another short tailwater section of river called Freemont Canyon. I have not personally fished this canyon, but it is supposed to be really good fishing during lower river flow periods. It benefits from many of the same tailwater effects, but without a forebay below Pathfinder Dam, it is subject to a much wider range of flows that can make fishing difficult. It is a visually stunning section of river and requires quite the hike to get in and fish. It was supposed to be a great place to avoid the crowds of the more famous sections of river, but apparently it isn’t a secret anymore because last time I was going to hike in the parking area was full! I decided to fish a lower stretch of river instead.

Freemont Canyon:
View attachment 13555
A family friend recently moved to Casper, based on your shot of Freemont Canyon I wonder if it’s the same place as this postcard.

8F9D4D4C-A198-45C5-BE01-009AF2CFCFFC.jpeg
 

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#21
Just southeast of Douglass we come to Glendo Reservoir, which is the third reservoir with a storage capacity over over 1 million acre-feet we've encountered on our journey. Glendo Reservoir is primarily used for irrigation storage, but also has an important flood control role as well! Unfortunately, irrigation storage and flood control are diametrically opposed goals and Glendo was almost completely full in anticipation of the start of irrigation season when Nebraska badly needed some flood relief in March 2019. Water management in the west in the 21st century is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Forever caught between competing goals, with both droughts and floods becoming more extreme than ever! You can't win and someone is always going to be upset at you. Lets take a moment to pary for the lots of people making water management decisions on the North Platte River!

Upper End of Glendo Reservoir:
1598227808577.png

Glendo Reservoir is known for great Walleye fishing and recreational boating. It is also known as the place my circa 2004 girlfriend went to a 4th of July party on some frat guy's wake boat while ya'boiTravis was toiling away working for the Forest Service like a schmuck. I was trying to put out a wildland fire in NW Colorado and didn't have phone access for the whole weekend, which apparently made her upset. I called her from a payphone on the 8th of July, only to find she was no longer my girlfriend. I still hold a grudge against Glendo Reservoir and therefore have never gone there for any reason! I resisted the urge to crash my plane into a random wake boat on Glendo by staying far from the party cove where I assume this party took place. Glendo Dam also has a large powerplant which is capable of generating 38 MW of power along with an extra 300 Kw of unrequited love.
1598228255141.png

Downstream of Glendo is another tailwater effect stretch of river where the cold oxygenated river once again supports a healthy trout fishery. This area is supposed to be a really good fishing spot and I'd love to give it a try if I can ever get over those negative associations! The river flows through some broken foothills and an awesome looking canyon. Looking at this area from the air is almost enough to make me give up my grudge after 16 years, especially since it isn't even technically part of Glendo!

Broken foothills on the left bank of the river:
1598228476146.png

Awesome looking canyon with some additional examples of dendritic erosion in the tributaries
1598228519410.png

The final stop on our flight is Guernsey Reservoir, another North Platte Project storage reservoir. It originally had about 75,000 acre-feet of storage, but much of that has been lost to sedimentation. Guernsey Dam has a total hydroelectric generation capacity of 4,800 kW, split between two generators. It has a very unique shape that resembles the stomach from the human digestive system. It is alleged to have quality Smallmouth Bass and Walleye fishing, but I can't personally confirm.
1598228627807.png

I landed at Camp Guernsey airport and uploaded a landing analysis video that will probably make @bjc weep, but I could really use some tips on landing this squirrel plane. It doesn't have flaps and has a very twitchy rudder so I have been struggling! Knowing the right approach and threshold speeds for this plane would be a great help!

 
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Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#22
A family friend recently moved to Casper, based on your shot of Freemont Canyon I wonder if it’s the same place as this postcard.

View attachment 13587
That's almost exactly the same spot. The rocks in that canyon pick up a great reddish hue at sunset. It's like 30 miles from Casper, but that's what you gotta work with as a travel agent trying to sell Casper as an amazing place to live! If it wasn't for the weather it really would be a place I might consider. The constant wind is just unbearable.
 

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#24
Haha I’m eager to see this video
Just textbook landing technique for when you're in a Yak 1 being pursued by BF109s. Dive for the runway at like 3x the proper approach speed and then throttle back to neutral once you're covered by your AA. Maintain the dive and bleed airspeed off with ur rudder until you are close to the runway, then pull up at the last second and hope you're slow enough to not climb and fast enough to not stall!

I almost nailed it, and was just floating there above the runway... but I still wasn't descending so I pulled back a bit more and started to lift off again, lol.

Vidya is up!
 
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bjc

Butt Naked Wonda
#25
Lol yeah that ain’t it. Generally management of your energy is much slower in civilian aircraft. The basics in any plane are to increase power to slow your descent/increase climb, decrease power for the opposite. Note I didn’t mention speed once. When you trim an airplane you’re trimming to hold a certain airspeed.

If you’re trimmed for 90 knots, then a decrease in power will cause the airplane to pitch down to maintain 90 knots. At idle, you can imagine that would be a rapid descent. So pitch controls airspeed instead of altitude. If you need to bleed off airspeed, your best bet is to retard the power a little bit and maintain your current attitude by increasing back pressure (don’t let the nose drop). It’s something you simply have to get a feel for.

Ideally, you aren’t having to make many changes on approach. You want to be stabilized as early as possible: on centerline, and descending at both a constant airspeed and descent rate. The more stable you are, the better that landing will be.

These light GA planes will float down a runway for some time. In the Cessna it can be nearly a thousand feet if not more. The faster you are the longer you’ll float. Try not to land, just fly and keep aiming for level flight until the plane literally can’t fly anymore. The stall horn will theoretically sound as soon as the wheels touch the ground if you do it correctly.
 

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#27
Day 4: Guernsey to Scotts Bluff

Decided to spend the day with the Wyoming #SaltLife Crew at Guernsey Reservoir, and decided to fly in the evening instead. Encountered scattered clouds for the first time on the journey so far! I also decided to deviate to the south right away to catch a look at Grayrocks Reservoir and fly along the Laramie River for the last few miles before the confluence with the North Platte. The upper reaches of the Laramie is one of my favorite spots in the world, and I might need to make it the subject of another river journey at a later date. Grayrocks provides cooling water for the Larime River Power Plant, operated by the Missouri Basin Power Project. It is a popular destination for camping and fishing in eastern Wyoming and is managed through a cooperative agreement with the Wyoming Game and Fish commission to allow for those recreational uses. The Laramie River Station provides over 1,700 MW of electricity to Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska and is known as one of the highest emitting power stations in the U.S! ROLL COAL! The power station was also found to be the fourth highest emitter of toxic heavy metals by a Sierra Club study in 2011. Your fine Walleye dinner from Grayrocks comes with a heaping dose of Mercury, hope you aren't pragnant!


Grayrocks Reservoir in the distance, with the Laramie River
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I've always loved the look of the Laramie River in eastern Wyoming, as it windes between riverside bluffs with Juniper and Pinon pine trees and Cottonwoods down in the river valley. In this area you will see both Mule Deer and Whitetail Deer along with abundant flocks of wild BOSS TOM TURKEYS!
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I followed the Laramie River downstream and just west of the confluence with the North Platte River, I found Fort Laramie, a National Historic Site. It was originally a private trading post for the fur trade in the 1830s, before being purchased by the US Army in 1849. It is named after Jacques La Ramee, a French Canadian trapper who explored the river bearing his name. Situated near the confluence with the North Platte, it was a prime location for the fur trade. It currently features a National Park Service museum that boasts "Always something to do at Fort Laramie" and "Fort Laramie, We are Easy to Find!"
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Just northeast of the historic fort location/museum, is the modern town of Fort Laramie. If you're driving along Highway 26, not a single stop light will disrupt you... but be warned that the speed limit drops quickly, the classic speed trap! I always felt that little neighborhood between the highway and train tracks looked pretty depressing, because they didn't even pave the roads, lol. Just east of town is some sort of refinery or storage facility.
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Next up, I made a youtube video describing the Fort Laramie Canal tunnel collapse of 2019. The 2,000 foot long tunnel was built over 100 years ago to carry irrigation flows beneath a mountain, and after a very wet spring in 2019 the tunnel collapsed! With the tunnel collapsed, the irrigation flows were essentially cut off to a huge area of eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska, totaling over 100,000 acres of irrigated land resulting in an estimated loss of $90 Million in crops. I performed hydraulic analysis of several emergency repair options and selected a plan to get partial operation using horizontal drilling and temporary pipe liners to return about 60% functionality. I also performed additional hydraulic analysis on a semi-permanent fix that was installed over the winter to get about 85% functionality back, and I'm currently working on a final design that should get them to 95% of the pre-collapse flows. Total tunnel repair costs will likely be $15-20 Million. This is an example of what can happen when we ignore aging infrastructure and I think it is a harbinger of things to come in this country.

My video shows the Laramie River, Historic Fort Laramie, new Fort Laramie, and the Fort Laramie canal. They are very consistent in their naming conventions!



Downstream of Fort Laramie, the North Platte River valley opens wide and we see the start of the massive amount agricultural acreage of eastern Wyoming. The valley starts about 2-3 miles wide between just east of Fort Laramie and expands to over 7 miles wide by Torrington Wyoming, with huge irrigation canals defining the north and south valley edges. Everything in between the canals is irrigated acreage. During the irrigation season each of these canals can divert upwards of 40% of the river flow, leaving only a small portion of the flow in the actual North Platte River. I love the look of those clouds!

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About halfway between Fort Laramie and Torrington is a small town called Lingle Wyoming. Highway 85 or the CANAM Highway that takes you to @osick87 runs through Lingle. I didn't fly over Lingle but I did manage to take a quick snapshot when it was off my left wingtip
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This portion of the North Platte River is defined by a sand bed with many depositional features such as sand bars and sand islands. This is primarily due to the fact that the river lacks the STREAM POWER to efficiently move sediment downstream during normal flows, because of the amount of water that is diverted for irrigation. Larger seasonal flows and flood flows move these sand bars around, but if a few years pass between large flows vegetation gets a foothold on the island/bar and the river is forced into a new path.
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Slightly further east we come to the town of Torrington Wyoming, where I have spent many weeks staying in seedy hotels that go the eXXXtra mile for irrigation engineers. Torrington is the commercial center for all the agriculture in the valley. Truly a bunch of R-side of the coins out here. It features multiple fertilizer factories and a sugar beat processing plant! One evening I had to stop cut a run short because a front end loader started moving around giant piles of some fertilizer ingredients and the entire valley was filled with a yellow fog!
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Just east of Torrington, is the feed lot that gives the town such a fine odor! From a distance you can almost pretend the sim generates cows for the feed lot... but fly up closer and they are little shrubs, lol.
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Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#28
Day 4: Guernsey to Scotts Bluff (Continued)

About this time in the journey the light started to get a bit low as it approached sunset and the scattered clouds started to block the last of the remaining sun rays. This lead to some cool photos and some photos that turned out a bit dark. Apologies in advance!

Further east I found more great examples of depositional bars. These are basically perfect examples because you can see the age of the vegetation getting younger and younger further into the bars. The sand continues to grow and vegetation continues to establish, which forces the river toward the outer edge of the bend, creating a more and more "torturous bend." Eventually the bend becomes too tight and the river says "you know what... nevermind" and cuts across the land behind the bar. You can see such a breakout channel on the leftmost bend.
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I finally crossed into Nebraska at at the small town of Henry. I used my drown to capture this momentous occasion, and it was fitting that darkness fell upon us as we crossed into BRASKY! I took one last longing look over my shoulder to the west and was greated by a wonderful Wyoming sunset. God knows what awaits us in the coming days.
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Just east of the state line is the Tri-State Diversion Dam/Structure, which feeds the Tri-State Canal. Established in 1907, the Tri-State Land Company was a private developer in irrigation and is known for introducing THE SUGAR BEET to the area (@GR8 2 B FL G8R @Karl Hungus). I was just talking about this in some other lizard person/conspiracy thread, so imagine my surprise when I found this out during my research! Pulling the layers on layers of subsidies together, the byproducts from the beet harvest (the greens and pulp) are used to feed western Nebraska cattle! MOOO!

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Further east I found a series of very strange ponds with what appear to be camp sites. I couldn't find any additional information about these ponds or the campsite. It is near Morrill Nebraska if any of you Nebraska people know any additional information or merge your Nebraskan powers to find out, I would appreciate the help!
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Just east of Morrill is a feed lot directly on the river banks. Fucking Nebraska! I guess it's a good thing the campsite is just upstream? MOOOO!
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Just east of Morrill Nebraska is another major diversion for the Enterprise Ditch, not to be confused with the Enterprise Rent-A-Car company where former Huskers go pro! (@Bmack)
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Near Mitchell, Nebraska darkness began to approach even more rapidly, and the denizens of this lovely little town began to turn their lights on. The sim never fails to amaze! The picture doesn't really do it justice, but the town just looked so peaceful that I wanted to crash my plane into it because fuck Nebraskans! Just southwest of Mitchell was a huge GE railway switching yard. My train hopping hobo-date roommate from college ended up stuck here one time and had to run from the railroad bulls and hide in the North Platte River bottoms. He spent the night there and then waded across the river and hitchhiked back to Fort Collins the next day with some awesome girls, one of whom I instantly fell in love with! Unfortunately they were on their way to California and I was a 21 year old virgin at the time, so I didn't really know what to do.
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The flight ended just east of Scotts Bluff at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport. I made a nice landing, and I'm definitely getting better at handling this squirrely little 300 extra. It was too dark to see much of the namesake of Scotts Bluff, so I will check it out more closely on the next leg of the flight.

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#32
This dynasty slaps, but I take offense to 40-50 days below freezing being classified as "extreme winter". A couple years ago we had 50 days below freezing....consecutively. :crying:
I think we average like 160 days below freezing a year or something :laughing:
 

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#33
This dynasty slaps, but I take offense to 40-50 days below freezing being classified as "extreme winter". A couple years ago we had 50 days below freezing....consecutively. :crying:
I think we average like 160 days below freezing a year or something :laughing:
I think those are days where it doesn't get ABOVE freezing, lol. The lows are below freezing for probably a similar amount of time. I know they have one of the shortest growing seasons in the country anyway. They'll probably have their first freeze this coming Monday night/Tuesday, goodbye gardens!

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#34
I think those are days where it doesn't get ABOVE freezing, lol. The lows are below freezing for probably a similar amount of time. I know they have one of the shortest growing seasons in the country anyway. They'll probably have their first freeze this coming Tuesday.
Yeah dude we had 48 days straight where where it never got over 32 as a high lol.

https://kbjr6.com/2019/02/26/duluth-within-top-20-for-longest-streak-below-freezing/

I can imagine their winters are trash because of the wind though. I know North Dakota winter is way worse than MN because the whole state is a wind tunnel
 

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#35
Yeah, the one thing Casper has going is that it is usually sunny, so you get some nice 50 degree afternoons mixed in even in January/February between cold fronts. Those are usually the windiest days though. When I'm going ice fishing up in that part of the world I only care about the wind. It can be -20 but if the wind is light I can still set a shelter up and be fine. If the wind is 30mph gusting to 50mph like it usually is, then I'm not even gonna try.
 
#36
Damn that looks like an awesome area to go ice fishing...you just need one of those ice homes where it has electricity and heating and shit lol then the wind doesn't matter
 

Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#40
Day 5: Scottsbluff Nebraska to North Platte Nebraska
We take off at 8am and take a quick tour of the town of Scottsbluff Nebraska, a solid western small town of just under 15,000 people, predominately based around agriculture. Scottsbluff is a bit of an educational hub for the panhandle of Nebraska, with Western Nebraska Community College, along with branch campuses for Chadron State, and the University of Nebraska. The University of Nebraska specifically has a nursing college and an agricultural research/extension college here. Before we fly back out of town, we swing back to take a better daytime look at the Scottsbluff National Monument. The bluff (and by extension the town) are named for Hiram Scott, a mountain man, trapper, and fur trader who died near this location.


Putting the 300 Extra to the Test at Scottsbluff
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Starting our eastward journey and waving goodbye to Scottsbluff
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On the east side of Scottsbluff we encounter an active gravel mining operation. This is a common human impact along rivers, as the gravel/sand/aggregate material from former river bed alignments are used for all types of construction. Along our journey I’ve noted several former gravel mines that form ponds adjacent to the river, but this is the first active gravel mining operation I’ve noted. Along the North Platte River corridor, there are hundreds of gravel mining ponds adjacent to the North Platte. The state of Nebraska has converted many of these to recreational fisheries and camping locations.

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The North Platte River was once characterized as being “a mile wide and an inch deep” and “too thick to drink, too thin to plow.” We’re beginning to enter that portion of the river, with very wide floodplains and multiple channels or braided channel alignments. Irrigation does contribute to this channel form, by removing streampower from the river, but the North Platte has historically been a wide/braided channel. We see the river really fits the classic characterization in the following photo:
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A bit further east, we encounter Chimney Rock, one of the most famous landmarks on the Oregon Trail. You probably remember this from your elementary school days and dying of dysentery around this point in your journey. The Lakota Sioux referred to it as “Elk Penis,” but the MSFS 2020 version is rather flaccid. WOMP WOMP.
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The western Nebraska panhandle is similar to the area around Torrington, Wyoming. Major irrigation ditches flank both sides of the North Platte River and define a wide agricultural valley, featuring the towns of Bayard, Bridgeport, and Broadwater. and features several large irrigation structures and many thousands of irrigated acres.
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As we fly further east, the land becomes more arid and the agriculture valley dwindles and becomes defined to a corridor that is only a couple of miles wide, then we see Lake McConaughy up in the distance, the next major reservoir on our journey. Another major public power and irrigation reservoir, it has a capacity of 1,750,000 acre-feet, making it the largest reservoir in Nebraska. The power generation is a complex system with generators located on the main dam, the supply canal, and the Keystone ditch diversion dam downstream. The Kingsley Hydropower plant, part of the dam operations, produces up to 50 MW of power. Additional power generation provided by the supply canal includes 5 turbine generator unites providing 20 MW each. Lake McConaughy is also renowned for its fishing and recreational boating opportunities, along with critical wetland and wildlife habitat. We also encountered several LINES OF DOOM in the lake!
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Morning Glory aka GLORY HOLE spillway structures are my second favorite type of spillway! The sim doesn't really do the outlet tower and spillway justice, but we can pretend that the reservoir is at an extremely high level. I have linked an image of the actual spillway structure for comparison.
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Downstream of Lake McConaughy we notice that the river is even more "thick" with heavy sediment deposits. This is atypical downstream of a reservoir, as reservoirs typically trap sediment, leading to "clear water scour" effects downstream. In this case, the extensive irrigation diversions are large enough that the clear water scour effect seems to be offset by the reduction in stream power, leading to heavy sedimentation, as shown in the following photo:
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Just east of Lake McConaughey we land at the town of North Platte, Nebraska. It was a long flight, so we’ll cover the town and the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers, which occurs just east of town, on our next flight!
 
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Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#43
Day 6: North Platte Nebraska to Kearney Nebraska
I thought about ending the journey here, at the North Platte and South Platte river confluence, just east of North Platte Nebraska. On the one hand, this is the end of the North Platte River, on the other hand, it's Friday night and I've had 5 beers! Plus, I don’t want to end my journey stuck in the middle of Nebraska, so we’ll pick up the Platte River and follow it for a few more legs to the confluence with the Missouri River! So we take off from North Platte, Nebraska. This railroad town is home to the Bailey Yard, the world’s largest railyard and the golden spike tower and museum, which provides a stunning view of the railyard… but not as good as our view!
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Taking the drone up to great heights, we see the North and South Platte Rivers converging east of town.
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North of the river in the distance you can see the sandhills. These appear to be gentle rolling hills, but are actually sand dunes that are stabilized by short grass prairie. The area is unsuitable for crops, which is why you don’t see any farmland outside of the narrow strip of irrigated land adjacent to the river.
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The river continues to get wider and features multiple flow paths, with each main channel being braided. I found this example where the river is split into three distinct channels, with forest separating them. Each distinct channel has its own braiding and sand bars.
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To the north of the river, we see Gothenburg, Nebraska, founded by a swede @Orlando named Olof Bergstrom, who worked on the Union Pacific Railroad. Several groups of Swedish settlers later joined him to form the town. Attractions include the Swedish Crosses Cemetery, a preserved pony express station, and the Sod House Museum
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East of town we see some more extensive gravel mining along the river. The proximity to both I80 and a railroad make this an ideal location for mining aggregate for construction use.
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Here’s a good example of the importance of overbank connectivity for habitat in the river corridor. You can see heavy amounts of sediment deposition in the overbank areas. Floods help rejuvenate overbank areas by depositing nutrient rich soil and organic material (dying fish!). After a few years without a flood, the smaller vegetation in this area will be fully re-established and it will look like a green jungle in the right overbank.
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Travis7401

Douglass Tagg
Community Liaison
#44
Further east we encounter Lexington, Nebraska, which started as a frontier trading post and pony express station. It is also home of the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles, featuring over 100 military vehicles, including a Huey helicopter posed in a display to recreate the fall of Saigon. THE SIM renders these as a grove of Trees, so I included a picture of the Huey for your imagination!
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Fortunately for @colb, the Wal-Mart travel super center with attached SUBWAY is rendered in much greater detail! I was tempted to land in the empty field to the east and grab hisself a sammich made on pastry in bread shape, or whatever the court orders them to call their "bread" these days!
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East of Lexington, the river is still braided, with many sandbars and Islands, but it does seem to hold to a single main channel a little more as we move east of Lexington. Below is an example of what the river looks like, with a glimpse of Kearney in the distance
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The town of Kearney, Nebraska, located just north of the Platte River. Kearney is best known for the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, a giant arch over I-80. It contains a museum dedicated to the Oregon Trail and the Platte River Road. I decided to fly under the arch… but we encountered problems! ABORT ABORT, THE SIM HAS RENDERED IT AS A BUILDING… AND THERE ARE FLYING CARS!
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NAILED IT!
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With our visit to the arch foiled, we swung just southeast of town is Fort Kearny was established in 1848 to provide protection and supplies to travelers on the Oregon Trail, later providing similar protection duties for pony express and railroad. It is now operated by the Nebraska Game and Parks commission and includes an RV park and live re-enactors during the summer months. I thought this might be an area where the trees are a bit excessive, as is pretty typical for the sim, but looking it up on google, this is pretty accurate. Extremely heavy tree cover throughout the historical park, with a few grass areas, as shown! After our quick circle around the fort, we headed to the Kearney Regional Airport just northeast of town, and concluded this leg of our journey!
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A successful landing at the Fort Kearney airport was the end of this leg of the journey!
 
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