A couple of years ago my friend Charlene and I decided to drive to North Platte for an open mike. George Lauby has been running this mike since 2006 (he also edits The North Platte Bulletin, an alternative newspaper). A road trip always seems like a good idea to me. Charlene, on the other hand, is up for anything all the time — one of the many things I love about her.
We met George and a couple of his friends for dinner and went on to the open mike which was held at A to Z books, a beautiful expansive bookstore owned by Sharon Owen, a veteran bookseller for 30 years. (Think the old Antiquarium, only less dust.)
The open mike was lively and varied — guitarists, singers, and poets. The whole town seemed to have turned out! There’s coffee and tea. People bring snacks to share, chat and catch up between sets. The whole evening had a relaxed, homey feeling.
I had mentioned to George how disappointed I was the last time I came to North Platte and Buffalo Bill’s Scouts’ Rest Ranch was closed. “On a Saturday!” I complained. “When do they think tourists come to town?”
George made a phone call to his ranger friend who ran the ranch and instructed us to call him the next morning.
We stayed at the gracious and lovely Knolls B & B. It was comfortable and reasonable (“We raised six children here. Our home is a home.” the website states) and Mrs. Knoll had two breakfasts for us — one when we left at 7 and one when we returned at 10!
Ranger Randy was gracious, even though we woke him up. He gave us an extensive tour of the Ranch, including the house and environs. Now several of us are headed back to North Platte, this time with copies of The Untidy Season, an anthology of Nebraska women poets that I co-edited with Liz Kay, Sarah Mason, and Jennifer Lambert. I can’t wait!