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Rough ride

March 23, 2017 GMT

Travel writers take part in reenactment of Louisa Cody kidnapping

A group of travel writers from across the United States faced some “rough riders” on Wednesday at the Lincoln County Historical Museum.

The “Ride with the Wild Bunch” kidnapped William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s wife, Louisa, from a wagon as the travel writers were taking a tour of Buffalo Bill’s Scout’s Rest Ranch and the museum.

The gunfire and shouts were heard across the historic village as horses galloped away with Louisa.

“You’ll get her back when I see the deed to the ranch,” shouted one of the bad guys.

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Cody shouted back that this act would not go unpunished and he would rescue his wife, who hollered back at him, “You better!”

The North Platte/Lincoln County Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted the group of more than 20 writers as they traveled across the state.

“The coverage they give us is invaluable,” said Lisa Burke, the bureau’s executive director. “When a writer can write from their heart about something they’ve experienced, it’s better than any advertising that we can buy.”

The Nebraska Tourism Commission is sponsoring the tour showing off the state’s central Platte River region.

Christine Sarkis, deputy executive editor at Smartertravel.com in Boston, participated in the tour.

“Initially I was drawn to this trip because of the crane migration,” Sarkis said. “But I think the story that is emerging is that there’s a lot more.”

She said travel writers try to think like the travelers they write for.

“I think that the really cool thing is that people can come for the crane migration and see all the other stuff as well,” Sarkis said. “It can be more than just a go out, see it and come back — it’s a full Nebraska road trip.”

She said the cranes were incredible.

“A lot of people say about the cranes, ‘You just have to be there and have to see it, it’s indescribable,’” Sarkis said. “But as writers, it’s our job to try to find a way to describe it. It’s going to be a challenge, but I hope I can do it.”

Jenn Gjerde, public information officer for the Nebraska Tourism Commission, traveled with the group.

“This is one of three media tours we’re doing over the next three months,” Gjerde said. “They started earlier this week in Grand Island viewing the cranes.”

They have been at Red Cloud, Henderson and York and stopped in McCook to see the prairie chickens. In North Platte, they toured the Golden Spike Tower and Scout’s Rest Ranch. Wednesday evening, the group went to Kearney to see the cranes one more time.

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“We bring the writers in with the hope that we inspire them to go home and inspire their readers,” Gjerde said. “A lot of these writers travel all over the world, and Nebraska is a hidden gem to them. A lot of them leave saying, ‘I didn’t know Nebraska had this much to offer.’”

Burke said getting the writers out to North Platte to experience it hands-on is good for the tourism industry in the state.

“We’re very thankful for the tourism commission that they see the value of these travel writers,” Burke said. “We Nebraskans are a little bit quiet about sharing what treasures we have here, so this is a great opportunity to show what Nebraska has to offer.”

The visiting journalists write for a wide variety of publications including Time, Vanity Fair, National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, USA Today, Audubon Magazine, AARP, AAA Midwest Traveler, AAA World, AAA Living, Birdwatcher’s Digest, Nature Travel Network, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Washington Post.