Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Thanks for all the comments, all. I appreciate you reading along as I write towards figuring out just what this trip has to tell me, what it's about which is certainly not the ins and outs of interstates. I appreciate you reading and I appreciate your patience.
We left South Dakota and headed – amazing for people planning on landing in Massachusetts from California, I know, but finally – east. With a small adjustment to our Google directions, we dropped into Nebraska earlier than we originally planned, following li'l Route 20. Hey, I mean, you know what my philosophy has been all along – the sooner we get to Nebraska, the better! We followed 20 East across the top of the state - the Sand Hills, as it would be.
People have asked us if we have a “nav” system. Um. We are driving a 30-year-old van and carrying pay-as-you-go phones. No, we do not have a NAV system. We have stops along the way that happen to have internet access and we have a laptop. Direct any further questions to our technology department.
“Whaddaya got? Mountain lion?”
“No, sir. Regular cat.”
“Then, I suppose that'd be alright.”
I was on the phone with the owner of the Long Pine Resort in Long Pine, Nebraska. “Resort” sounded somewhat ambitious from what I'd seen of the state so far, but what did I know, maybe it really was different. It was some kind of cabin, it was an hour ahead, and it was to be our rest for the night. The first two places I'd called didn't exist anymore. The incredible cross winds had been buffeting us around the roads relentlessly and the landscape had been overwhelming us with its monotony and we were done. Isaac finally fell asleep for the last leg, lulled by our lie of how-much-longer, but Mike and I were wide awake and sniping at each other.
Then: “Welcome to the Middle of Nowhere” a sign, that featured a trifecta of nowhere – Johnstown (population 48), Ainsworth (population 1,870) and Long Pine. Finally! I think. Someone is finally willing to tell the truth!! No more of this crap:
We hit the mile mark where the resort should have been and ...nothing. We went a little farther – nada. I was leaning forward in my seat despite the cramping belly pushing against the seatbelt. No sign of a resort or anything else. We hit the next town 10 miles up the road. “What do you want to do?” my husband asks me. “Jump from something very high and take all of Nebraska with me,” I thought. Repeating even a fraction of a mile in this state was out of the question – we couldn't go back. Calling somehow didn't occur, though we may not have had reception. “Can you hear me now?” No, fucker, I'm in Nebraska!
Something truly desperate happens when you are staring out at nothing for hour number five, knowing that in about 20 miles, things will break out into the next “town:” a car repair place, a bar, a gift shop that closed years ago, the place that sells tractor equipment, and, if things are really cranking - an army tank parked in the main square and a bowling alley. The sun is dropping; you are probably dehydrated again. You bang your head backwards on the headrest and whimper, just audibly. You think you understand how people can just snap. Just lose it. You rub your belly, talk to the baby, because you need something to soothe. It's all lies. “It's okay. We're okay.”