Flying By

An Impressionist view of Nebraska’s Sand Hills is the best I got today.

This is incredible country to me, still. After you get into western Nebraska, the land opens in a way that makes me think of eagles and buffalo, and riding fast across limitless plains. A free-ranging way of life obstructed another that held its superiority uppermost, and so it simply had to go. Now another, superior, way of life is ready to dismiss a culture that thought it was free. The ghosts of these people seem closer in this part of the land.

Driving into the huge sky painted with sunset over a black horizon was grand, and sacred. I only saw two jet contrails in the whole picture. Last year there would have been so many. Supposedly nature is valued more now, but these changes feel driven by as much contempt as those so many years ago.

We flew through, in our way, without being able to look at the Pony Express Station, or Buffalo Bill’s old ranch. The last two days have been 578 and 579 miles, respectively, but are many hours long, because Janet cruises at 60 mph. I would have gone a bit further, but the next town has few services, and as I noted before, this place still has cellular one or two levels behind the rest of the country. What if I had to leave a hole in my travelogue? Horrors.

My first restaurant meal on this trip was breakfast at Nellie’s Country Kitchen in Cameron, Missouri. My waitress was a high school student who told me interesting things about her life there these days. I got the town newspaper, and she told me it was owned and produced locally, and that she had been on the front page, playing trumpet in her school band. The photos of the community Christmas festivities reminded me strongly of my childhood in a logging town. I found I couldn’t look at them without choking up.

When I asked about the fact that nobody in the place, maybe fifteen dining and three employees, was wearing a mask in any way whatsoever, she said, “This is a very red state.”

Tonight we’re in Sidney, Nebraska. We’re guests of Sam Walton again, but I can’t even see the store. Janet likes her burly neighbors ok when they’re parked, and I hope we get a good rest for another long day tomorrow.