Story by me for the Lincoln Journal Star:
Floating on black water just like the Mississippi, the Nebraska moon kept shining on Steve Willey and Terry Foster as they slowly made their way down Salt Creek.
The Lincoln duo launched a raft near Waverly Friday night and floated to where the creek feeds the Platte River near Ashland.
Willey, a Mississippi native, had planned months ago to make a Huckleberry Finn-type voyage down Salt Creek. But it wasn’t until the skies dumped several inches of rain that he could do it.
On Friday afternoon he bought an inflatable raft, filled a cooler with refreshments and called up his buddy Foster.
After being informed that the city of Lincoln dumps treated sewage into the creek, Willey reasoned, “Come on, it’s not like it’s raw sewage.”
What would compel such persistence?
“Ever since the dawn of time, man has yearned to conquer Salt Creek,” he quipped. “I did this for all humanity and prosperity. Also my friend bet me $20 that I wouldn’t.”
Armed with a single flashlight and a tolerance for stench, Willey and Foster put in a couple miles northwest of Waverly just as the sun faded behind the western horizon.
“It’s just like the Niobrara,” Willey said, “except the scenery isn’t as nice and the water is exponentially stinkier.”
The trip included thick fog and countless beaver sightings.
“We had no major snags,” Willey said. “The water got a little turbulent near Ashland. I felt like the only way we were going to successfully get past it was to jettison something, but I couldn’t get Terry over very easily.”
By that time, the raft ride was taking longer than expected.
“I didn’t think it was going to take no six hours,” Foster said. “Would I do it again? Hell no.”
But Foster and Willey both agreed the trip was well worth their time.
“Now whenever I drive over Salt Creek, I won’t hear it laughing at me,” Willey said.