Camping on the Great Plains

Our first night of camping was in North Platte, Nebraska, along the shore of a massive water reservoir called Lake Maloney State Recreation Area. It’s an honour system campground with no designated sites. If there’s a picnic table, it’s a site.

The weather was threatening most of the afternoon and there were thunderstorms in the forecast. We expected rain. 

At sunset, we sat having supper looking west across the lake as the sky lit up with lightning. The entire western horizon from north to south was a non-stop light show of sheet lightning and lightning bolts, sometimes the bolts raced horizontally across the sky, sometime vertically towards the earth. In the occasional breaks between the clouds, I could see a thin crescent moon that shone brightly when lightning flashed nearby. The colours varied from electric blue to stark white, shades of yellow, sepia and ochre. The sky was never dark but there was no thunder, so the lightning was very far away. How could such a massive storm not come our way?

When we got up the next morning, the sky was clear and everything was bone dry. We’d had no rain, no storm.

Later that day we met a couple who’d spent the night camping about 60 km south of us. They told us they experienced a massive hail storm during the night, so ferocious that they covered up the hood of their pick up truck for fear of hail damage. I felt as though we’d dodged a bullet.


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