My sister and I recently took a quick road trip to Iowa. From Colorado, it’s around 12 hours one-way, and because I’m a weirdo Night Owl, I decided we should drive overnight. Nothing adds excitement and an element of danger to an 800-mile drive like doing it in the middle of the night. Oh, yeah – and we started the trip in a snowstorm. (Yes, it was snowing in May. This is Colorado, people.) Once we crossed into Nebraska, however, the driving snow and gale-force winds had mostly stopped.
By night is now my favorite way to drive through Nebraska – when you can’t see the endless stretches of fields, it’s actually quite pleasant. Hardly anyone on the road, although you do have to pay more attention to those few passing cars and trucks, since the drivers (like you) are probably feeling a bit sleepy. We only had one near-miss, when the trucker in front of us was drifting lazily across the white lines. Silver lining of near-death experiences: the adrenaline burst helps keep you awake.
Here’s the thing about driving through Nebraska on I-80 – the road construction never ends. Our parents moved from Iowa to Colorado in the early ‘80s, and we’ve made the trek across Nebraska at least 30 times over the ensuing years; as long as I can remember, we’ve encountered some form of road work every time. I feel like it’s the same road work – widening some portion of the road that never ends up being wider, endless stretches of orange cones that must be permanently affixed to the concrete by now, and never a worker in sight.
They bumped the speed limit to 75mph (finally), but thanks to the road work, you tend to go 65-to-55-to-45-to-snail’s-pace, and all you want to do is drive 80 and get it over with. By the time we reached Iowa, I had to use a crowbar to uncurl my fingers from around the steering wheel and there was a sort of crazed gleam in my eyes. Is it normal to burst into tears when crossing state lines? Asking for a friend.
Of course, I know people live in Nebraska, so I don’t want them to get the wrong idea about my feelings toward their beloved homeland. I’m sure it’s filled with perfectly nice people, and I do love corn. And really, the stretches of green are quite a sight for eyes used to seeing a lot of dry, brown fields (at least, by the time August rolls around). I don’t have anything against Nebraska…I’m just wondering when I’ll be able to drive through it without wanting to bang my head against the steering wheel. Is it a 40-year project? Then, 2020 can’t come soon enough.