These last two days–a blitz across Nebraska, stopping overnight in Des Moines, then a very short day to finally get home–were all about one thing: getting home.

 

As I said last time, Nebraska was overwhelmingly flat, or it seemed that way until you realize that when we entered Nebraska, we still were around 3500 feet, and by the time we left the state in Omaha, we were down to about 1000 feet. But that’s what several hours of driving will do to you.

 

I give to you some photographic proof.

 

We stopped for lunch in Grand Island for lunch and some gas, and discovered the Nebraska State Fair was being held there that week. No, we did not attend.

 

We made our way eastward, through Lincoln–or actually around Lincoln, since I-80 appears to just kind of greet the city and then go right by like an ex-girlfriend or something.

 

And then we hit Omaha. Now, the last time I was there–in fact, the only other time I’ve been to Omaha–was 18 years ago, on our honeymoon. Jenni and I stopped there on our second night out on our trip, stayed in a hotel not far from Rosenblatt Stadium and the Omaha Zoo, went down the road a bit for a steak dinner, and went to the zoo. Just driving through, the city had a different feel–it felt larger, more gritty, and more city-like.

 

And then we entered Iowa. And came across this:

Art or an early warning system? You decide! What’s even more odd is that it seems to be guarding a bridge.

 

The couple of hours crossing to Des Moines went fairly quickly–and anticipation certainly helps that. And it helped that we finally saw a sign of home…Actually, a sign pointing our way home:

We could have gone on and driven for the remaining 4 hours to get home that night, but it felt good to check in to our last hotel, go swimming, order pizzas in and just relax for a night. Besides, the next morning, we’d have a 16-year-old in our midst:

 

And what was his birthday gift? Why, he grabbed a pen from every hotel we stayed in:

 

This is why none of you got souvenirs. I was going to give you the pens, but Patrick just had to keep them…

 

The entire trip was an experience I will never forget, and hope my kids will appreciate and not forget, either. I know that, like the trips of my youth, some of the details will fade, but I hope that when they look back on those two weeks, they see how much fun it was and how much we all discovered.

 

See you later.