In the Midwest Now

Drive to Missouri_8_1_2006_001
Originally uploaded by noplur.
So I made it to Columbia! The road trip from San Francisco was a nice yet exhausting drive. My brother, Seth, was kind enough to drive out with me and help me load and unload the car. Our first day was a marathon thirteen hour straight-shoot to Salt Lake City. It didn’t take us half an hour to hit our first roadblock: a major truck accident that slowed down highway 80 for more than an hour.

After the jam, we stopped in Winters to meet Robyn at the Putah Creek CafĂ©. I had the Putah Creek Scramble and Robyn was excellent company. And she waited at the restaurant for quite a while until we arrived—during which time she finished her book and then proceeded to get really bored. Back on the road, we stopped once more in Auburn to get milkshakes at Ikeda’s, where when I was younger, my family used to stop all the time during our drives to Tahoe.

Seth and I also made a stop in Elko, Nevada for five minutes to gamble. I lost nine bucks and Seth won $19. Luckily, we were not addicted to the slots, or as they say, we “knew when to fold’em”!

By 10 at night, we reached the Nevada/Utah border, where the “twin-township” of Wendover, UT and West Wendover, NV provided an interruption to the nothingness. And from what I saw, it looked like there was a lot more to do in West Wendover than Wendover. My recommendation to Utah: Legalize gambling!

On a side note, while driving through Utah, Seth asked me if I knew Utah’s state moto. After several incorrect guesses (my best attempt was the “Dry State”), I was reminded how little I knew about Utah’s random silly facts. So the answer is the “Beehive State”. There you have it!

Day two took us through northern Utah, Wyoming and three-quarters of Nebraska. Again, another ten-plus hour driving marathon got us well acquainted with Terry Pratchett and his audiobook, Pyramids.

The day began with a slowdown due to heavy rains in Utah. Then just as the rain stopped, so did we— in Little America, Wyoming. Seth and myself unsuccessfully helped a Utah family recharge their car; and we were also unsuccessful in finding a stuffed penguin. Once on the road again, the rains returned and the driving slowed to 30 mph. We could not see beyond 10 feet at one point.

So one detail is missing from our trip so far: Thanks to the advent of cell phones, we could easily call Seth’s fiancĂ©, Skye, for a multitude of purposes without interrupting the drive. It was like having a 3rd person with us, and Skye most certainly made our trip a hella a lot easier (maybe this is the last time I ever use “hella” now that I am no longer in Northern Cali). We “used” Skye to help us decide whether we should lunch in Laramie or Cheyenne, Wyoming; where to stay in Omaha, Nebraska; and where to stay in Lincoln, Nebraska once we changed our plans.

Our second day also brought us a visit to an enormous statue of the Virgin Mary (Pictured above). White as snow, she is located on the Wyoming/Nebraska border. I kind of see this as my “Gateway to the Midwest”.

The third day in the Saturn was intended to be our last— and thankfully, it was. Driving from Lincoln, our first interruption brought us to Ashland, Nebraska (a small town off highway 80), where they built a useless lighthouse located next to a small pond. I will gladly take suggestions to why anyone, sane or insane, would erect a lighthouse in a landlocked state where the nearest ocean is 1,500 miles away.

A half hour later we stopped at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha—there is no other way Seth and myself, brought up on baseball, could not visit a random stadium in Nebraska named after ourselves. Actually, its not named after either of us; nor our father; nor our grandfather. The stadium’s namesake belongs to a former Omaha mayor. Rosenblatt Stadium shares its parking lot with the Omaha Zoo, and it is host to the College World Series and the Omaha Royals minor league ball club. Our schedule forced us to visit the stadium early in the morning, so there was no chance we could attend a ballgame. And as a matter of fact, I don’t even know if they played a game there that day. Maybe next time I’m in Omaha I will get to see the view from the grandstands.

Here are my pictures of Rosenblatt Stadium.

For the remainder of the day, we hauled-ass. The Saturn crossed the Missouri River into Iowa immediately after leaving Omaha. Then, for the first time on our trip, we turned off highway 80 to follow highway 29 into Missouri. The 435 allowed us to bypass Kansas City and connect to highway 70. An hour and a half later (around 3:30 Central Time) Seth and myself finally arrived in Columbia.


Anonymous said...

Yay, I feel so special, I made it into your blog. Glad to know that you got to the heartland safely, and I'm already very much enjoying the blog. Keep it up :) I had a great time at that last breakfest, and it was fun to meet your brother.

(and I think you nailed it on the hand ... low level mafioso, indeed.)

Aaron said...

I enjoyed the lunch, too. Will try to maintain the blog as much as I can.