Monday, October 18, 2010


From the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River is a downhill trip.  While there are a few bumps in the road, those bumps grow smaller with each eastward mile. Traveling from the Mississippi to the Ohio River at our home in Waverly, West Virginia which sits at about eight hundred feet above sea level.
We  started downhill leaving the mountains far behind as we drove across the American Midwest.
States like Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio, each have their own type of beauty.
As usual, we traveled along two-lane highways searching for what the interstates left behind in the name of convenience and speed.  On US 20 near Valentine Nebraska, we crossed the Niobrara River beside the historic Bryan Bridge.
We wanted a closer look and to see what made this particular bridge "historic" so we circled around at the "historic bridge" maker.  What is unique about the Bryan Bridge is that it is a simple arched cantilever bridge, meaning that an arm comes from each side of the river to be crossed.
The arms meet in the middle and are connected by a single pin.

The sparse ranches of the West now became ranches with grass enough to cut for hay. Homes had lawns in which grew large shade trees rather than sage.
Before long ranches then became farms. Tractors were busy cutting hay and forming it into large round bales or mounds of amber settled onto a field of green.

A full moon rose at mid-day to accompany us on our journey eastward. The beautiful day meant that farmers were out working, harvesting wheat, soy beans or whatever crop was ready and waiting.  We enjoyed the scenery but missed having a goal other than home.  We enjoyed wandering from one picturesque spot to another, not sure where we would sleep each night. We squeezed everything we could out of the road, stopping at antique stores, unique restaurants, museums and roadside parks. We did not pass up an overlook. We paused at historic markers.

We thought of our friends and family, stopping to photograph one of the giant tractors common to the large farms of the midwest for Jim.
Rolling fields were treasured for how they were different from our familiar hillside farms.
We went back across the Missouri River into Iowa,

 visited the De Soto Wildlife Refuge where we stopped to visit a museum dedicated to excavating a sunken paddlewheel boat.
The flora and fauna cared little for what lay in the mud beneath them.

On we drove. . .
Once again we crossed the Mississippi River as we made our way into Illinois from Iowa.
A few more towns invited us in to share a few moments.

Peoria . . . Bloomington . . .  and more.
A night spent just west of Champaigne, driving golf balls into a field of our RV park, our RV about a block away from the bathrooms. In the morning we drove to the showers then drove away.
Onward through Indianapolis . . .  then rain as we drove into Dayton, Ohio - I had been there before. Our vacation was over.  Now we were just going home.
My Facebook status this day included the sign below with my words . . .
"I'm not sure I'm happy about this."
With darkness came home.  We stopped to pick up mail and recap some highlights with Jeff's parents then drove up the hill to our home.
Even in the dark we could see that our lawn had gone to seed.  We learned that it had only been mowed once in the five weeks of our absence. In the morning light we realized that the next two days would be spent pushing or riding a mower.  
While it was nice to sleep in our own bed, use our own shower, this was not like other returns.  We had left more behind this time than just a vacation.  
We had left our children in Nevada.
We had left their friends who had become our friends.  We had left the sun of summer behind. 
We like what we have here at "home" but the saying "home is where the heart is," had become applicable in a way we didn't realize it would.  When we drove up our drive  between the ponds, up the hill, across the hay field, under the treehouse around another hayfield and stopped in front of our cabins, we knew that we had each also left bits of our heart up at Lake Tahoe. We had left a bit of "home" behind when we turned off the ignition that last time.


Pastor Lynn said...

I enjoyed following your cross country adventure. Seeing, Tahoe, the Sierras and Virginia City evoked many wonderful memories. I think I told you that Bob and I spent the first 4 years of our marriage in Carson City, NV. I was a ministerial intern at the Virginia City church for a year. I love Lake Tahoe, There is a presbyterian conference center, Zephyr Point, on the lake. In the years we were there it was old worn out buildings. Now it is a pretty high class conference site. But we enjoyed the old rustic days with a beach and a view that was and is spectacular. I am glad you got to be in Virginia City for the camel races. When I was there--1983-84--the couple who ran tours in the mine were Presbyterian.
Thanks for sharing your adventure!

Beyond The Garden said...

Pastor Lynn, I am a follower of your blog. It is time for you to start writing down your "ponderings." I am interested and looking forward to them. When you are a famous writer, I can say that I was your first fan.

mary said...

Wow! I miss your kids! This is a nice blog that ties in with the other blog. Thanks.

ANNE G. said...

Once make me cry Wonderful writing, Nellie!

Kirigalpoththa said...

Looks like a lovely trip!