June 26th, 2005


Des Moines

Jet ended up sleeping on our level, between John and I with his head on John's stomach and his feet buried under my waist. Yeesh. But we did sleep until 7 am/8 am CST, which was good after how late the night was.

In the morning, at the campground, we found the power outlet, which would normally be used by an RV, was very useful for grinding our coffee. The little vacuum brewer which we'd brought along made good tasting, hot coffee, and it made exactly enough to completely fill John's thermal mug and half fill mine. I was impressed that it was able to brew that from the whirly grinder grounds, which are anything but even. I didn't want any more than that, and it was perfect for our breakfast.

We'd bought a multi-pack of cereals from the local grocery store, and we cheerfully had a box or two each with the milk we'd brought along from home. The cooler in the Eurovan is a powered cooler, not a refrigerator, so it's not really COLD, but it's cool enough to keep things okay for a while.

There was plenty of mosquito repellent for us to enjoy breakfast quite happily and not get bit much.

We packed up soon after breakfast, John washed the dishes, and then we headed out again. We stopped by the train yard that was mentioned in the AAA tour book, and John found an underpass that went right by there. We were so close we could read the signs about how some of the engines were run by remote control, so there were no human beings who could stop for a stray human being. Wow. As we sat there a 100+ car train gently pulled in. There were at least a dozen trains parked and moving through that area.

Eventually we headed on our way again and were amazed by the amount of water haze there was in the air. I entertained Jet by drawing bugs into my journal, and having him tell me what to draw and then having him tell me what the pictures were of. We entertained ourselves that way for several hours. Jet eventually started telling a story: "If you give a bug a pancake, he'll go, 'Hey! I didn't want that!' He'll eat it. And get all sticky. And you'll have to use a wet cloth on him." giggles

While I drove a portion, John read the tour book and was amazed that we were already thousands of feet down from the high plains. Nebraska is GREEN. Trees and near-forests between crops and pastures and huge rolls of hay. I guess they'd had good haying weather with the heat. Rain followed us in, so it was a good thing it was all rolled up and ready before the rains.

There was one construction incident that made me really grumpy. There were signs that said, "Merge left. 2 miles." And rigth AT that sign traffic stopped, abruptly. So abruptly I watched a semi truck, very carefully, in the rear view mirror to see if it would make the stop or if I'd have to make a hurried exit of my lane onto the shoulder. Instead, it moved toward the shoulder, but made the stop in plenty of time. It veered into the right lane, but then stayed level with me to allow no cars to go zipping by in that lane until a semi pulled up behind it. Then it asked to merge in front of me. So I let it.

Then the two semi's stayed level to each other for the two miles to the actual merge and held traffic down to a reasonable enough level that slowing for the merge, by everyone, was done safely. That was pretty impressive. There were a lot of cars trying to shoulder their way through the lines behind us, but the sheer size of the semis was enough to keep folks in line. I took a picture of the back of the truck so that I could call the "How am I driving?" number to compliment the guy.

When we made a gas stop around noon, there was a KFC right there. Jet decided he wanted biscuits for lunch, so he ate those, and bounced and sang and wanted to run around, and amused a lot of people around us. Most of the folks in there were much older, and they enjoyed his antics even though I was less than pleased some times. But he would mug for them when they looked at us, and at the smiles he'd start saying, "Hi!" Once they heard we were from Colorado and were locals, they talked for a while with John and Jet.

We drove a bit more and saw two different semi trucks that had flipped over the side of the freeway and were lying on their sides by the road. State patrol cars were all around them and one had a semi-tow truck there as well. It surprised us to see two of them when we'd never seen that by a freeway before. I wonder if the storm last night blew hard here, too.

At 4 we stopped at a Dairy Queen. It was HOT when we stepped out, so hot it was oppressive. Jet ran up and down the aisle of the DQ while we ordered, he ate his ice cream, but then did more running up and down and up and down while he could.

So instead of pushing past Des Moines we stopped at a rather posh neighborhood that had a little playground and park and let Jet play for a while on the climbing equipment. It's not like it was two years ago, when we did the West Coast trip. He isn't that much into the climbing for the sake of just climbing what he can climb anymore. He took a couple of Hot Wheels cars with him and raced them down the slide. He did do one challenging thing, which was walking down an arm slide that was too wide for his shoulder width. That was fun. It was a good stop and we weren't going to repeat the mistake we'd done yesterday.

The AAA book showed us to an America's Best Hotel and we stopped there after a bad dinner at a bad grill. The waitress had been great, but the food was so bland and so... dominated by meat and starch. Jet ordered cheese bread, but it came laden with grease and garlic, so he refused to eat it. We decided to get him some rice, and he plowed through the Uncle Ben's with gusto as they'd brought along a bit of teriyaki sauce as well.

The hotel was old. The room's AC worked, though. We went to the pool and swam and it was so hot it was amazing. John looked at the thermometer in the pool and it read 100 degrees, which is the same temp we keep our hot tub at. Oops. Jet had a pretty good time swimming through the murky water and enjoyed it a lot. He slept solidly that night.

I didn't. The AC was loud and right by the bed. And the bed was way too soft and the AC made the air too dry for my painful throat. The ibuprofen helped, but I didn't want to think of what it was doing to my stomach. It's better, though, a little, so I have hope that just getting rid of that pillow is actually making a real difference.

I'm so tired.