After the loading up on greazy fried food and looking at the crafts, prized produce livestock at the Iowa State Fair we crawled back into the U-Haul and drove off towards Nebraska. We, meaning I, felt good about driving so instead of stopping someplace somewhat cool overnight, we made a short stop at 11pm at Grand Island, which as far as I can tell, isn’t grand and isn’t an island. We ate dinner at some 24-hour joint called Tommy’s were I pledged to have a chicken fried steak every day on this trip. After Tommy’s, we drove a couple of more hours to Ogallala to overnight. The end result being that we drove through most of Nebraska under the cover of darkness and have no idea what the state is like.
Monthly Archives: August 2007
This whole road trip wasn’t really planned out in great detail. We had a couple of ideas of where to go and what we wanted to see. Then we had nothing. So while at Scattergood we utilized the wireless internet connection to research things to do in Iowa and Nebraska. Low and behold… the Iowa State Fair was going on! You know what that means… corn dogs, funnel cake, and could there possibly be egg roll on a stick?
The only state fairs I’ve been to before were in California and Oregon. The one in California was huge but didn’t have that… je ne sais quoi… what you imagine a state fair should be. Oregon had more of that but it was small. Iowa, however. Oh man. We walked in past the gate and were greeted by an exhibit hall titled “Farming feels good”. Yup. This is a state fair.
As we were leaving I noticed an unusual number of security and media types clustered around a crowd. I asked a bystander what was going on and she said Barack Obama was in the crowd. Holy crap. And John Edwards was at the state fair early today. So, of course, I get within a few feet of Obama and snap a couple of pictures.
Picking up the U-Haul involved a trip to the Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. As we drove down the block where we were supposed to pick up our 17′ truck we noticed two-thirds of the storefronts were boarded up and a guy was sitting on the bumper of our truck drinking a 40 out of a paper bag. Real nice.
Packing up the truck went smoothly and faster than I thought it was going to take. We could have fit everything in a smaller truck with some creative packing but we were somewhat inefficient with the arrangement of boxes having the luxury of a larger truck. After a bit of making sure we had everything, we hit the road to Scattergood Friends School, Cat’s old Quaker boarding school near Iowa City, where I had my first encounter with cicadas.
The next morning we took a walk to the prairie on the school grounds. The trail was a bit damp from the morning dew and my old pair of running shoes I wore for the walk never smelled quite the same after.
When I read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods years ago I was inspired to take a road trip across America. The main goal was to go to central Michigan to see the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler. But the secret main goal was to see House on the Rock, which featured prominently in the book. So I was really excited to start off the big road trip with short trip to HotR.
Oh man. Was this place weird! There are 3 self-guided tours you can take and we bought the entire package of all 3. You can definitely spend an entire day on all the tours. Tour 1 takes you through the original house and the Infinity Room. Tours 2 and 3 take you through the collections of Alex Jordan, the designer of the place, and they were the areas of HotR we spent most of our time in. Jordan collected automatic music machines. Think Disney-esque animatronics but with real musical instruments.
Unfortunately, the lighting inside was dim and taking pictures without a tripod was difficult and since I like to shoot using ambient light I had to use a high ISO setting, hence the noisy shots.
Also unfortunate was that we didn’t allow enough time to also hit the Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb.