Omaha, Neb. Lightning, fatigue and a long, winding road put the brakes on two brothers' plans to drive through all 93 Nebraska counties in 48 hours.
Marc and Matt Seger decided to end their journey Sunday morning while in Wheeler County the 63rd county they visited in 33 hours since leaving Omaha's Douglas County at 12:01 a.m. CDT, Saturday.
The brothers had driven to every county in southern and western Nebraska by then, with only the northeast quarter of the state left to conquer.
"We had a great time and saw some neat stuff, but ended up deciding it was unsafe to continue," said Marc Seger, a 35-year-old bank employee from Omaha.
With a detailed route plan that required an average speed of 43 mph, the Segers were an hour ahead of schedule when they came upon a severe lightning storm in eastern Custer County at about 3 a.m. Sunday.
"There was so much lightning. It wasn't safe," Marc Seger said. "It looked like the world was going to end. Of course, I can't say that our perceptions weren't off a little bit after driving as long as we had."
They didn't quit there. They quickly mapped out a new route to avoid the storm, backtracking into Buffalo County and heading east into Hall, Howard, Merrick, Nance and Greeley counties.
By then, fatigue set in as both of them began forgetting directions.
They spent at least 20 minutes lost on a desolate, winding road in Greeley County and there was no where to stop to ask for directions.
"We were just frazzled," Marc Seger said. "It was a combination of our maps not being entirely accurate and our mental fatigue. When we were on that road, it was like the Twilight Zone."
Matt, a 22-year-old construction worker from Fairbury, refused to quit, but when they finally reached Wheeler County, they decided over breakfast in Ericson that it was unsafe to continue.
They then drove the 150 miles back to Marc's house in Omaha and went to sleep. Marc slept for 16 hours straight while Matt was out for at least 18 hours.
"We're certainly questioning the sanity of seeing all of the counties like that," Marc Seger said Monday morning after waking up.
The brothers did enjoy watching the sun set Saturday in Grant County, passing clusters of flying butterflies in Phelps County and stopping at Carhenge near Alliance in Box Butte County. They also collected a rock from each county that they put in a jar.
"The beauty we saw and taking in the diversity of Nebraska was amazing," Seger said. "Of course, spending time together as brothers was the greatest part."
The pair plans to visit the remaining 30 counties later this year.
"No offense to northeast Nebraska, but we had to stop," Seger said. "We plan to visit up there really soon."