Life has its way of leading us down paths we never expected. It also has a way of bringing us to places we never thought we would go. Thus is the case for me, moving to Scottsbluff.

My father, who lives in Cottonwood, Arizona, is our family historian. Through his retirement, it became his obsession to map our family’s story as far back as he could. His research has revealed some amazing facts along each family tree.

For instance, the maiden name of my grandmother on my father’s side is Richmond. Her family has a direct link to The Richmond Castle in Richmond, North Yorkshire, England. He also found a famous name that married into the family at one point, William Shakespeare. Who would have thought?

So why am I going down this road? Because moving to Scottsbluff has literally brought my mother’s side of the family full circle.

Approximately 100 years before my birth in 1965, my mother’s great-great-grandmother, Lucinda Gardener, traveled with her family to Oregon and right through this area.

As a newly married 19 year old to her 21 year old husband Thomas, Lucinda had recently given birth to their first son, Oliver, when the family began their travels out west.

Traveling the Oregon Trail as a very young family was not an easy task back in those days, but even harder when you are taking care of an infant child. The trip would take them close to 100 days to complete.

After just one third of the trip, the travelers would reach the beautiful Scotts Bluff area, where they would make camp along the North Platte River. The next morning, with 1,100 miles left to go, they would set out for the rest of their journey, traveling 18-20 miles each day.

Husband Thomas passed away a few years later after arriving in Oregon. Lucinda would remarry and later travel from Oregon to Arizona. It was there the family settled, raised a family that would ultimately lead to my mother meeting my father. And 100 years after traveling the Oregon Trail, would lead to me. Now, a 53-year-old news media publisher, I have the sheer honor to lead the Gering Courier and work side by side with its amazing staff.

Lucinda and Oliver are at rest in our family plot in Cottonwood, Arizona. But here in western Nebraska is really where it all started. The sheer guts and determination to make a new life for themselves and their family more than 1,700 miles away, is nothing short of impressive. For without it, life as my family now knows it would have been much different.

Last weekend I drove out to Scotts Bluff National Monument and found the actual trail my ancestors traveled. As I stood there, wondering what life was like for them, I felt a comfort come over me.

I began thinking about how fortuitous it was that my wife and I, along with our dog and cat, were brought here. How everything just fell into place so smoothly after traveling to the area for my interview. Or maybe it wasn’t fortuitous at all, but rather fate or design.

It doesn’t really matter why, but just that it did happen. My wife and I are very happy and excited to become a part of this community. We look forward to making new friends, hiking new trails, enjoying the new scenery and beginning the next chapter of our lives right here.

Over the coming weeks I plan to visit with as many new faces as I can. My door is always open, and I am eager to have visitors come by the office, so feel free to do so. I will also be out and about in the community as well. If you see me, please reach out and let me introduce myself.

Yes, life definitely does have its surprises. But those surprises many times lead us to places we need to be.