Sunday, May 01, 2011

From: These United States, an episodic tale. Pre-departure thoughts: Nebraska.

Though we haven't had nearly enough time to concentrate on planning the fun stops for our drive across country, we have the beginning and the end more or less mapped out. It's the middle that we're still not sure about. How many other treks, real and figurative, must share this dilemma?

As it looks now, we may be crossing the state of Nebraska on our journey east. When this first came to my attention, I of course emailed Megan, our former babysitter extraordinaire. She watched Isaac a couple days a week for us for about two years. Truly, if I thought tying her down or bribing her with riches would have kept her from moving to Portland (along with most of the rest of California), I would have done it. Megan was the kind of person you dream of watching your child. Isaac loved her; and what was not to love? She is fun, creative, responsible, infused with common sense, and dedicated to teaching young children (she left to complete a certificate program in Montessori education). Megan is also a traveler, a vegan, a generally interesting person and, as it happens, a native of Nebraska. I figured if Nebraska had produced such a soul, perhaps there was more than basketball and grasslands there. So I asked her what we should stop and see in her fine state. Her advice? “Just keep driving.”

Damn. But surely... With the determination that comes from an age honed in its futility by mindless hours of internet research, I soldiered on, finding with every Google click involving Nebraska, one common feature: “Carhenge.” Voted America's 2nd "Wackiest Attraction," it apparently just lost out for the top spot to a toilet seat museum in San Antonio. But nevermind the near miss, this is Nebraska's roadside claim to fame. A spot in the middle of nothing where someone has painted cars a silver gray and piled them up to resemble the ancient and mysterious Stonehenge of England. Except stacked cars are not ancient or mysterious, and neither, I was starting to see, was anything about Nebraska.

One more try – The Nebraska State Parks website featured links to their various regions and attractions of each. I chose a region at random and clicked. There were two attractions listed. One was a steak house.

Sometimes you try to give something a fair shake. You shake and shake, but nothing comes out.

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