Quote of the Day: “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
beneath wide skies.
Morning began early, to the sounds of two Hispanic maids quarreling in the parking lot. Oh dears. Nonetheless, it woke me in time for a good shower and the most important meal of the day: breakfast! Even if said breakfast consisted largely of Cheerios. I might have partaken also of the inn’s crescent rolls but they looked distinctly…more brown and less crescent-y than I would have hoped.
Regardless, breakfast provided the opportunity to meet my fellow guests—an asian couple that quickly departed, a pair of Israeli backpackers (who insisted to me that coffee is the greatest proof of God…alright, I’ll roll with it), and a young Native American family headed to Chicago (and yes, if you’ll note, that means one of these groups snuck in when I wasn’t looking during the night…thus ruining all that cozy space I had! I mean…THREE people in a hotel besides me? Madness. Two is just right.)
But after that breakfast of kings, it was back to the road…
Today’s journey began in Des Moines, Iowa. From there, I traveled 402 miles in 5 ½ hours (Tom Tom and Google both told me it would take 6 ½ – once again, technology is thoroughly walloped by my likely lead foot).
Iowa: There wasn’t a terribly large amount more to see. Lots of Windmills. Some of the flat gave way to trees and hills as rivers loomed. I-80 wound into a riverside city, to become one of the busiest and most congested bits of real estate I’ve seen since the highway through Chicago. A bridge formed the border (thankfully toll-less) between Iowa and its neighbor, one city flowing effortlessly into another, and Omaha forming the welcoming party on the other side.
- Initial thoughts: wow, look at all the green and the hilly nature of this place…maybe it won’t be at all as people described…
- Quickly followed by: Oh God. It flattened. Where did variation go? Where is height? I can see for miles…
- Which in turn made me miss and better appreciate the cloudy skies of yesterday. Though I was never hit by any real rain, the wide open spaces, and the stormy nature of the sky allowed me to see great variations in level, character, and color in the sunset-speckled clouds. Today, there was just open blue. The end result was a surge of boredom as everything blended into one another. Blue and flat green…that was my road.
- Along the way, I did see that even here comes the occasional spurt of originality, in the form of a T-Rex Scarecrow guarding a Nebraska Corn Field. And this sucker was a good story tall. Rawr, indeed.
- On a whim, I decided to re-engage the radio. 94.1, I discovered, had surrendered itself to a bizarre mix of Katy Perry Pop and Will Smith Hippity Hoppin’. It was amusing, for a while. Then the pop saturated my soul too deeply and had to be expunged.
- As bad as that could be, though, what was worse was the lack of gas stations. There were numerous villages along the highway, yet many of them had a motel or dining establishments…but no gas stations. Where do these people get gas? Worse, on hitting central Nebraska, a grievous switcharoo transpires…
Unleaded is now “Super” Unleaded. It costs 20 cents more than the unleaded many of you know and love. Unleaded has ethanol in it now, and to boot, I can get real ethanol, which they seem to be encouraging…but it’s all just there to screw with my head I think. Ah, corn country.
- By this point, the radio descends into either Radio Static or Country. Neither is optimal for sanity.
- Sign of the day: A bumper sticker reading: “honk for my beaver.” This Minnesota man – yes, it was a man, and his plate said Minnesota – is clearly a strange sort.
- North Platte looms, and with it, apparently, parks dedicated to Buffalo Bill. Also a fort. And my latest inn…
North Platte, Nebraska. It has a gorgeous river view, I’ll give it that. Beyond, I would not recommend it to any of you travelers out there. If you do head that way, though, I would recommend somewhere other than the Quality Inn. The wi-fi is shoddy, the view and the room itself are obviously…both less efficient than my previous lodging was. Still, the rooms do come with both a fridge and a microwave, so that’s something at least.
Next stop? The final leg of the trip—on to Golden, Colorado.