Driving along US Route 26 in her new sports car, Nebraska’s Miss Congeniality explained that this remote stretch of highway follows the historic path of the Oregon Trail.  In less than forty-five minutes we covered as much distance as settlers in Conestoga wagons did in nearly a week during the great westward migration of the mid-19th century.  She was taking me to see Chimney Rock, the most prominent landmark along the Oregon Trail.  The nearly 300 ft. geological formation was a welcome site as settlers plodded their way across the mostly unremarkable Great Plains. As a child I remember playing the Macintosh game, The Oregon Trail, and I would strategize that I needed to reach Chimney Rock by the midpoint of the period if I had any chance of reaching the Pacific Ocean by the end of class! 

So there I was, a decade later, racing along US Route 26 with my girlfriend trying to reach Chimney Rock before sunset.  We made it with time to spare and she enthusiastically explained (as she so often did) how lightning and erosion had shortened the peak of chimney rock over the intervening decades between now and when the first non-natives initially encountered the landmark.  She explained how each generation will see a less prominent version of the formation until one day it is only an inconspicuous hill that you unknowingly pass on the side of the highway.  We watched the sun set behind Chimney Rock and we both looked at each other knowing that this trip like Chimney Rock was surviving only on borrowed time.