By Steve White firstname.lastname@example.org
Forget the GPS and auto-steer and don't even think about air conditioning. The state's longest antique tractor parade is underway, traveling border to border at ten miles an hour.
Ed Axmann's got modern tractors and combines, but to hear him talk, his 1961 John Deere diesel's as loved as any member of the family, even his wife.
"I almost think I'd part with her before I would that tractor. They're really a piece of cake," he said with his wife standing silently at his side.
The gears may stick and there's no air conditioning, but traveling the state this way has its advantages.
Donelle Moormeier of Cortland said, "You can see a lot of countryside at 12 miles an hour instead of 65 or 75 on the interstate."
The Tractor Relay Across Nebraska is the first border to border ride of its kind.
"We thought how about vacation on tractors," Moormeier said.
Like most, Moormeier and her husband were planning on just riding for a day or two. But in their case, plans changed.
She said, "We found out other people from Iowa were going all the way across Nebraska and thought, 'wait a minute that can't be. Got to have Nebraskans go clear across Nebraska.'"
It'll take nine days to go from the Iowa border to the Wyoming state line.
Many signed up for a one day adventure, like Don Nelson of Hildreth and Steve Johnson of Wilcox.
"Every ride we get on, we make new friends," Nelson said.
For Johnson, it was a family affair, as his wife and other family members joined along.
But Nelson rode solo. "My wife says this is an expensive hobby."
"It's cheaper that rebuilding a car and I can stand up," Johnson said. "That's why I like doing it."
Nelson was on board his Farmall while the Johnsons had several tractors. They take pride whatever the name on the side of the tractor says.
Moormeier said, "We just have the same thing in common. We enjoy the same thing. Maybe we're from the farm, and it's our roots."
They began the day in Grand Island with a police escort and arrived in Kearney for the evening. Then it's on to Cozad, North Platte, Ogallala, and eventually the Wyoming line.
For more, visit www.antiquefarming.org. It is organized by the Nebraska Antique Farming Association, which was formed late last year.