The journey west continues
By Ken DeLaat
Iowa is different in the fall.
Most of our road trips through the state have somehow occurred in summer when the corn is high and the greenery is extensive and almost feels a bit like an entry way into the Emerald City.
In early October the corn has been harvested and the fields look like a bad haircut.
And there are plenty of them.
After getting past the Indiana-Illinois industrial area and through the agricultural expanse that is western Illinois we crossed the Big Muddy and rolled into the Hawkeye State where one can visit the birthplace of John Wayne, the Bridges of Madison County and The Field of Dreams.
A stop in Iowa City home of U-I proved to be a splendid respite with a fine eatery nearby. The Homestead Suites (highly recommended) provided a great spot to relax and plot out day 2.
And while Iowa can be a bit of a challenge to cross when rambling across the country on 80, once it is in the rearview mirror, Nebraska looms.
And being a veteran of many treks across the Cornhusker state, I remembered that although it is mainly pretty flat with few trees and virtually nothing of interest beyond the Kearney/Grand Island oasis of civilization at least it’s...it’s…
It’s hard to imagine many people choosing to stay over in North Platte. The western Nebraska town is a little on the rough side. It’s a railroad town whose primary claim to fame is that Buffalo Bill Cody owned a ranch there. Old BBC did his part in wiping out the buffalo in the west (hence the nickname one surmises) taking out over 4000 for the railroad. Later of course he put together his Wild West show and if you’ve paid attention to the news recently a poster from his traveling show was recently discovered (and subsequently stolen) in Manistee.
Eschewing the handful of chain hotels we opted for the Husker Inn, a classic, well manicured, 10 room little Mom and Pop place nestled in the heart of NP.
If anyone recalls staying at a motel back when Holiday Inns and Quality Courts were the only real chains out there they may have stayed in a Husker Inn clone.
Bed takes up most of the room, the bathroom providing enough space for almost one person, the ability to hear neighbors sneeze and a challenge to find adequate outlets for devices.
To their credit they had WiFi (kind of) and the rooms were exceptionally clean and a guy who directed me to the ice machine room told me it is his favorite place to stay when traveling.
He seemed to want me to ask him more about his travels but I was tired, hungry and have learned that such conversations can easily lead to lengthy monologues involving information devoid of items of personal interest.
Dining options are also limited in NP if one isn’t interested in fast food.
We found a downtown spot called Good Life on the Bricks, a fast moving joint with good beer choices, smoked burgers and what seemed to be a 1:1 ratio of staff to customers with young servers moving food from a busy kitchen at breakneck speed. It was packed from our arrival to our departure and when asked about the name our server explained the name came from his buddy who owned it.
He didn’t expound and we chose not to pursue it.
All in all some good progress made thus far and with the mountains within shouting distance (that is if you can shout 250 miles or so) we rose early, grabbed breakfast at one of those spots filled with regulars who all stopped talking and stared at us in silence when we walked in, and headed west.
Oh and thus far on the shoe situation?
Just one. A lone loafer (brown I think) lying alongside US 83 just south of North Platte.
I let LIl know and was reminded once again how she doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for the mystery of those solitary soles despite the phenomena being pointed out to her repeatedly over the years.
Once when we were living in Grand Rapids I called her at work.
“I’m in a meeting. What do you want?”
You know the exit ramp from 131 to the Ford freeway?
There was a red pump lying there on my way to work. Just sitting there all by itself.
Silence (for a while) then...
“Look, don’t call me at work about the shoes anymore, ok?”
A patient woman indeed.
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