After our fun in Valentine, it was time to hit the road again. We rolled along through the beautiful Sand Hills one last time as we made our way to Colorado. We had been told to make sure to stop in Paxton, Nebraska a few miles off I-80 near the Colorado border. There we found Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Bar.
Ole’s history is a piece of Nebraska legend. Please take the time to read that history here. There is no way I can do justice to the way their story unfolds. What I can show you are pictures from inside the bar and a quick story about our late morning breakfast.
We were the only customers in the restaurant portion of Ole’s that now consumed nearly a full block. Waitresses sat at a table nearby awaiting the noon rush. After ordering, we began touring the bar areas. The rooms were rich in old-wood tables and chairs. Lighting was dim (for the better), and all the hunters, farmers and ranchers that bent their arms in Ole’s over many years had worn the 25-yard, walnut bars beautifully.
As we sat down to eat, a waitress got up from her seat and came over to tell us that Ole’s wild game displays inspired the founder of Cabela’s outdoor stores to create wild game scenes in all his stores. She wanted us to know that Cabela’s was opened in Sydney, Nebraska.
This wonderful lady was priceless. She clearly had no more than three or four teeth left in her mouth. We know because she always beamed with joy as she began to come back to us time and time again to tell her stories. These ranged from the exploits of their highly successful high school volleyball teams to visits by state hero, Dr. Tom Osborne. As a Nebraskan by birth, and a Husker always in my heart, I loved every tale.
Her best was the story of her honeymoon. Well into her 60s, she had only been married for nine years. Her husband took her all the way to the Great Plain River Road Archway that spans I-80 in Kearney in central Nebraska.
She slapped her leg as she told us how drunk she must have looked when she stumbled the first time she got onto “an excavator.” As she stood there cackling away over the memory, it took us a bit to realize she really meant “escalator.”
We finished off another gigantic breakfast platter and readied to leave behind a wonderful piece of Americana. If you are ever that way, make sure you stop. But, be warned as we were. The bar rooms on a Saturday night still get pretty wild even after all these years.
Here’s to Ole, the “little rogue that liked to have a good time,” the “men, real men” that frequented Ole’s and the “lipsticked” women that provided companionship.
For photographs from Ole’s, click here.