I crossed into Nebraska, drank a Red Bull, ate a banana, and felt mostly awake. I got ahead of the huge storm, and make it to Kearney, where I stopped for breakfast. Perkins! I knew they would have oatmeal for me, and I was not disappointed. I found my way to the drive-thru espresso hut and was back on the road. In Kearney, there’s this giant memorial arch over the highway. When we drove past it in the middle of the night, it freaked me out because it was this big lit-up thing in the middle of nowhere. During the day, it wasn’t so menacing.
I was tired, but keeping myself awake with loud music. The one thing Nebraska has to offer is straight roads, so you can pretty much go 90 on autopilot. I saw a sign informing me that the road I was driving on was made of 47,000 recycled tires. Yep.
I realized along I-80 that I was in the smallest vehicle I had seen for miles. It’s the largest trucking route in the country, and although I am a trucker, I drive a very small rig. I hit ridiculous road construction from Lincoln to the Iowa side of Omaha (Nebraska thinks they’re smart by grouping all their big cities together in one place). I was a little more awake in Iowa and decided to shoot for Des Moines for lunch.
I had to stop at rest stops a few times to stretch, but managed to make it. I had a veggie burger for lunch, then stopped for what was to be my very last Starbucks visit. I drove out of Des Moines, and almost cried when I saw the signs pointing towards Minneapolis. I knew the last 250 miles were going to be the worst part of the entire trip.
I had trouble staying awake almost as soon as I got out of the city (um, ‘city’ in quotes – it’s Des Moines, Iowa, after all). I drank my coffee, then a pop. I ate sunflower seeds one at a time. I turned the music up as loud as I could stand it. I slapped myself on the thighs, hard. None of it was working. I pulled off at the exit with the gas station with the peephole in the ladies’ room (I think it’s the Kum & Go, and I’m not joking), but went to a different gas station instead. I bought three cans of Red Bull, more sunflower seeds, and pretzels. I was desperate.
Somehow, I made it to the Minnesota border. I was miserable, worried about falling asleep behind the wheel. I was making terrible time, because I kept having to stop. At almost every rest area, I’d pull off, go to the bathroom, and run around to try to wake up. It would keep me alert for 10 or 15 minutes, then I’d be groggy again. Finally, about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities, I called Heather. I begged her to keep me awake. We were both freaking out that I was that close. She kept talking, and I kept driving. I rattled off the landmarks I passed along the way. I didn’t hang up until I was a block away, and I could see her standing at the end of our driveway.
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random notes from my travel journal:
my cd player tends to overheat after much use and doesn’t want to play cds, especially burned ones. i put one in, it thinks for 30 seconds, then spits it back out. only it’s super hot. it’s my cd toaster.
animals i have seen on this trip: goats (mountain and billy). prairie dogs. buffalo. a giant gopher. seals. birds: eagles, hawks, seagulls, pelicans, etc. otter. the usual barnyard fare. crabs being pulled from the ocean and thrown back. porcupine. a donkey painted like a zebra. llamas. kittens in a box in san juan bautista. a green parakeet in tijuana. supercolossal, possibly prehistoric bugs. fratboys in vegas.
animals i have not seen on this trip: giant squid. yak.
The last entry in my travel journal reads:
i think i lead a charmed life. i’m really glad i had this trip. it was beyond amazing. wow, it’s time to go home. and this is the last page.
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