There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to driving, I am an animal. I could make this trip once a month. If i had another driver I could do this in three days, but with my kids with me, and being that I’m the only driver, I am not pushing that late into the evening. Still, I managed a good 500 miles today, and tomorrow, if I get an early enough start, I envision doing 600.
To me, the country appears smaller when you drive its length. Smaller as compared to flying, that is. Flying never feels real to me — it’s almost magical, the idea that you can traverse the country in a matter of hours. I’m always pleasantly surprised at how many states you can cover in one day from behind the wheel. It makes the country seem more tangeable.
The other great thing about road trips is that you’re your own boss. (assuming the wife isn’t along for the ride) I decide when to stop, how far to go, and where to stay at night.
There’s nothing as infantalizing plane travel — being told when you can stand up, eat, or go to the bathroom. Not to mention the demeaning aspect of having to remove clothing while being cattle prodded through security.
I love seeing these old, beat towns that you would never get to see from the air. Des Moines, Iowa has a beautiful old state building with a golden domed roof.
We stopped took a walk around downtown Des Moines. Even though it’s fairly well maintained, it has many vacant buildings, and aside from a street with three or four nice looking bars, there isn’t much by way of commerce. You can see from these old towns that the America of todaydoesn’t produce anything. There are no jobs. Places like Detroit, Syracuse, and Des Moines, once thriving cities, are now practicallyghost towns.
We had dinner at a Cajun restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. I had the shrimp etoufee, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but ten minutes after we had resumed our westward drive, I exited the highway at the first rest stop I saw and sprinted into the MacDonald’s bathroom.
Fully revived I pulled back onto route 80 and began scanning around the AM dial for some baseball games. I was able to pick up games out of Chicago, Kansas City,Colorado, and Minnesota. We’re in the plain states now so AM reception, particularly at night, promises to be impressive.
We are in the plain states now and everything will be flat as a pancake for the next several hundred miles. Most people think of these states as being boring and monotonous, but I have always found a kind of stark beauty in them. I loved the rolling hills of Kansas when I drove through it several years ago. There is something about how much sky you can see out here that is amazing. The sky goes all the way to the horizon and it makes the light beautiful and intense.
We’re bedding down at a Super 8 in Grand Island, Nebraska. Don’t ask me why they call it an island — I’m as land locked as can be.