Saturday, June 14, 2014

West on I-80.

This week,
my dad and I drove
across the country together.

Sixteen-hour days
of flying down I-80
at 75 miles an hour,
passing trucks
that lumbered along
like great ships crossing the ocean.

I was worried
that I would hate
Nebraska and Wyoming and Iowa.

But I should have known better.

I loved every minute of it.

We started west through Pennsylvania,
which was a lush jungle.
We drove through tunnels
that cut through hills.
We shared the street with Amish buggies.

And we got to slip through
a tiny piece of West Virginia,
which pleased me.

In Ohio,
we drove in and around and through
a little town called Barnesville
at 10:30 pm,
where all the lights were off
in all the houses.

We passed row houses
on the outskirts of a city
that reminded me of where
Rudy Ruettiger
might have grown up.

In Indiana,
I thought about Pawnee and Eagleton.
We skirted around Indianapolis,
where there were signs for the Speedway.

We happened to stop for gas in Illinois
in the town that was the site of
the Lincoln Douglas debates
and Carl Sandburg's birthplace.
And I was thrilled.

We ended up driving through
the University of Iowa campus,
and it was everything that a college campus
should be.
My new dream is to get a PhD there.

The rest stops in Nebraska
were gorgeous,
with little pools of the bluest blue water
lying next to them,
and the ceaseless gales
blowing over the prairie.

It wasn't boring for one second,
even when the landscape grew harsher
as we pushed west.

Then I fell in love
with southeastern Wyoming.

We stopped at the rest stop
at the highest elevation on I-80,
where there's a 13-foot bronze
Abraham Lincoln head
towering over the highway.

There he is.

The clouds were misting around us
and the wind was whipping
and it was cold
and we were up
nearly in the sky.

The rest of Wyoming
twisted and turned,
until we hit Utah,
where I made my way carefully
through the Rockies
in the dark,
blinded by the light of train locomotives.

And on the other side of the mountains
burst forth I-15
and the endless towns and cities
and cars and people.

And here I am again.

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