Wednesday, June 25, 2008

our amazing trip: day 5

Yesterday we crossed over from Colorado to Nebraska...

... under the North Platte Interstate Bridge ...

... and today, we crossed over the Missouri River and in to Iowa.

For at least the past 300 miles - probably more like 600 miles - there has been corn and corn and more corn growing alongside the road.

And a few cows.

We made a quick stop at the 20th Century Veterans Memorial in North Platte and the kids had a good time climbing all over the statues of various war heroes ...

And giving their thanks - in the form of hugs -for the service these men and women have provided to our country.

From the desert of Nevada - through the high desert of Utah - and the Rocky Mountains of western Colorado, the plains of eastern Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa, the landscape changes so much. No longer can we see the dramatic geologic outcrops, everything is covered with lush green vegetation. It is so beautiful.

I've never been to Nebraska and Iowa before and I suspected that it would be completely flat. But it isn't. There are rolling hills (covered in corn) and all different types of trees. I told Charlie that I could see living here and he said, "Wait until February." And then when I stepped out of the car and was swarmed with mosquitos, I reconsidered a little bit. But there are lightning bugs here!! I haven't seen those in years!! And there are beautiful blackbirds with bright orange flashes on their wings that help to eat the mosquitos. Right??

Where we live in California, we are surrounded by people. Our next door neighbors are no more than 12 feet away. Yet, you drive through the middle of the country and there are vast expanses of land without a single person for miles and miles and miles. It's refreshing.


When we had to make an emergency potty stop yesterday, we pulled off the Interstate and stopped along some country road, somewhere between Colorado and Nebraska. What was intended to be a two minute potty break turned in to a forty minute break that included an impromptu reorganization of the vehicle. Because OH MY GOSH our minivan has a bad case of car-trip. It's hard to say whether it is dirtier on the outside or the inside.

During the time that we were pulled off to the side of the road, two gray haired farmers stopped by to make sure that we didn't need any help. Even when we tried to wave them on, they pulled alongside us in their pickup trucks, rolled their windows down, tipped their cowboy hats and said they just wanted to make sure we were OK.

It's not to say that Californians aren't friendly, I just can't see anyone doing that in San Diego. Infact, a week ago - before we left - I was driving in the fast lane in rush hour traffic north, and passed a vehicle that had broken down. There was a man with a baby in his arms, and a woman 10 feet behind him, walking along the shoulder and no one was stopping to help them.

It is still bothering me now, that I didn't stop. But I was four lanes over and to turn around and drive back would have taken me at least 20 minutes with traffic. Maybe more.

Anyway, I just love how friendly the people are here.

I love the old barns.

I love all the wide open space.

I could see living here.

So long as we could have unlimited access to a swimming pool (and bug spray), we'd all be happy.

We just crossed over the Mississippi River from Iowa in to Illinois and hope to be in Chicago by tonight. The total driving distance thus far is 2,044 miles and in that time, we've read "The Cat in the Hat" at least 15 times and watched "Toy Story" about the same.


  1. I moved from San Diego to the midwest. In some ways it was hard, but would I rethink that decision? NO WAY. It's a wonderful life here. The people are friendly, it is significantly more affordable, and the schools are pretty good. We have most of the same things you do in San Diego, you just may have to drive a little bit more to get those things.

    I find that if I regularly visit San Diego, I'm all set! It's the best of both worlds!

  2. We don't sing "America the Beautiful" for nuthin'.

  3. i've been reading your adventures...all i can say is WOW! WOW! and WOW!

    so cool that you are able to do cool that your kids behave well enough...i'm pretty sure we wouldn't have made it past the California border...

  4. I grew up in northeastern Colorado and have lived in Nebraska, Missouri, and Minnesota (a few other places too), and there is just nothing like the Midwest! Great people and beautiful rolling hills! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  5. I'm in Iowa this very moment also. Think of me when you drive through Illinois - I'll be heading home tomorrow. But we live far south of Chicago - right in the middle of the state. The midwest is a great place to live. Unfortunately many people were hit hard with the recent flooding. I think our farmers are in for a bad year.
    Your trip sounds fantastic.

  6. Oh This is so great! I'm really excited for you guys!

    I have been through/to the midwest (Kentucy/Indiana/Illinois/Iowa). Reiner worked up there (Iowa) for almost a year. The people are great BUT.. the winter's....YIKES! It is SOOOO cold! We where up there during Easter break one year ~ the flowers where blooming in SC but once we hit the Iowa state line, it starting snowing!! We froze our bageeby's off!...the wind alone was brutal and I was pregnant w/Brian. (so I had a little more padding) It's way to COLD! Beautiful but C-O-L-D!

    HEY! I know you've heard this pitch before.... We have wide open plains in SC plus I know a great couple w/8 (okay maybe 7) month access to a wonderful pool, tennis courts, even horses!!!! In fact my father (Your wonderful Uncle Bill) has just finished redoing the pool (again)~~ it's amazing ~ Beautiful! He's redoing the upstairs all wood floors and said he's planning to have the tennis courts redone...I'm afraid to think of what will happen when his projects are done......I think you need to build a house ~ here. (it's a great project)
    Have fun~ Marg

  7. The hugs of thanks are the most touching photo I've ever seen. Good job.

  8. I live in Chicago and love that you drive a couple of hours in one direction or another (except'll end up in Lake Michigan) and you are in farm country...Although I was born and raised here, I had enough of the winter this year when it was April and still cold and snowing...We still aren't up to pace with the weather...not a typical Chicago summer! Enjoy your time here...hopefully you can stop to enjoy some of the sights!

  9. I heart old barns!!! New barns!!! I tried to get my sister to post a sign on I80 for you but she fell down a few concrete steps two days ago and she said it was raining. Darn it! Love the pictures. Keep them coming.

  10. Fun the pics. And Toy Story is so awesome, I might just watch it 15 times.

    Suggestion: While in Chicago, hit the local bookstore and grab a few audio books. After many car travels with my crew, they are my most recent travel tip.

  11. I LOVE these photos! America is BEAUTIFUL!

  12. Still driving... you two are such cute parents. I hope your children remember this trip... how fun to go on a road trip with your parents accross the country. Shoot, I'm scared to drive with my kids more than 5 hours!

  13. It's so good to hear that your trip is going well.

    I'm a California to North Dakota transplant - and let me tell you ... it was one of the best decisions of my life. I love it here.

    Happy trails!

  14. Hi Jen,

    Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us. Every morning I log on excited to see where you are now.


  15. I think you said that you were hoping to be in Toronto on Monday?

    If that's the case, keep in mind that Monday is part of a long weekend here. Canada Day is July 1st, so traffic will be hairy. My best suggestion to you is try to get here early in the morning or very late at night.

    Love the pictures!

  16. Welcome to Iowa!! You were about 30 miles from me is all. Although I've always lived in Iowa and never been to San Diego or visited any huge city for any length of time, I must say I absolutely love living and raising my kids in the Midwest. The winters can be cold but you get used to it and the summers make up for it. The enclosed bridge picture you posted is in Kearney, NE where my sister lives. You should've stopped and visited it. It's pretty awesome! I hope you have safe travels on the rest of your trip. Thanks for taking us along! Nancy in Iowa

  17. Wow - thanks so much Jen for taking us with you. I feel like I'm travelling across the country myself just without the headache of packing and unpacking. I'm not sure my 4 would cooperate like yours are. YOU ARE SO BRAVE.

  18. What a great trip!!! I feel like I'm along for the ride...

  19. Hey anonymous -

    I am a North Dakota to California transplant and beg to differ.

    What part of ND did you settle in?


  20. I can't thank you enuff for publishin all this! I would never have the nerve to travel like that. I have never been more than 10 miles from where I was born, and doubt I ever will be. I hate travel, and I'm a big chicken! Cluck! Cluck! ('m afraid of all that can go wrong! :O)

    But... if yoo ever moove to this area, if I pay all expenses for it, could you build a little house on the property for mee? Or an addition on your house? I would pay my way, and really appreciate it! :D

    If others have the same thoughts, you could start a commune, which I what I always wanted tooh dooh anyway, but it always failed.

    ~Cindy! :)