South Dakota, you were absolutely lovely! We said goodbye at a coffee shop called Abe’s Coffee, where our darling bartender from the night before also worked (cool surprise for us), took some pictures with some beautiful painted wings, gassed and iced up, and were on our way. We had seen some really amazing looking pillars lining a bridge the night before as we pulled into town and wanted to check them out, so that was our first stop. Half way across the bridge we saw the “Welcome to Nebraska” sign. Noooooooooooo!!! We were drawn in by the pillars to come in, but we chose wrong!!! We must turn around and head the other way!!! (If you cant tell, Jared and I aren’t super fond of Nebraska . . . not for any other reason than the view while traveling through it is akin to driving for hundreds of miles across a piece of paper with one small wrinkle in it, and (maybe) once, an ant walks across. Nebraska: Where the sun sets for 5 hours and seers the image of its barren, flat fields onto the back of your corneas for 5 hours more than that. I’m sure the people are lovely though. 

Anyway, our mistake corrected, we started the drive. Our goal was to drive until we didn’t want to anymore, stop for lunch, drive until we didn’t want to anymore, stop for dinner, drive until we didn’t want to anymore, and eventually stop for sleep. It all worked out great until the “stop for sleep” part. In all of our years of freeway driving and rest stop stopping and truck stop resting, we have never come across one, let alone TWO, completely FULL rest stops. We began to get nervous that we wouldn’t find a place to stop, but were finally saved by a truck stop outside Gary, Indiana. 

So, our leisurely day of driving turned into a 10 hour day! Pretty great to cover so much ground. We did some crosswords, wrote a new song, and listened to some great albums. Our dinner was made and eaten on a patch of grass in front of a gas station in Davenport, Iowa, where we had Rudy run off some pent up energy and spent our dinner laughing and enjoying a bit of respite from the heavy heat of the day. As I was explaining to Rudy that dusk is one of my very favorite times of day because it feels kind of still and magic, some fireworks began going off in the distance. Point proven. 

At our truck stop near Gary, we hunkered down and tried to sleep, but even at 2:00am, the heat was so intense, we knew we were in for a tough night. By 7:30 in the morn, Jared had had enough tossing and turning like a rotisserie chicken, and probably just as cooked, so he just decided to drive because at least then we’d have AC. Our goal for the day was to see the new “Spider-Man: Far From Home” film and do some laundry before heading to our next destination, Derrick City, PA, Jared’s home town. 

We looked at the temperature around 9:30 in the morn and said “90°! Oh my god!” Then we hear from the back, “That’s a lot better than 92° . . .” I mean, he’s not wrong. 

We stopped at a truck plaza for coffee and a quick bathroom trip. Rudy must have felt comfortable, cuz he let us know it was “poop time”. He let me know it was for me, since I am always asking him to poop. Gee, you shouldn’t have. We got done, got in the car and Rudy immediately needed to go again. I stayed in the car, in the AC. In 5 min, I get a text from Jared. “This one’s for me”, he said. Well, at least our boy is fair. 

Ok. Poop-free and on the road, we found a movie theater and a laundromat within 3 min of it! We got in to see the movie in plenty of time. It was a wonderful movie and Rudy had a ball. Afterwards, we went to the Coin and Suds laundromat next to a little grassy area, and we finally got to wash all of our bedding and clothes! We made lunch, had a beer, refilled our ice, and began the 5-hour trek to Belvidere, Jared’s family farm and place where we would spend the Fourth of July. 

The drive passed pretty easily with Rudy watching movies and me n J ticking away at crossword puzzles. We pulled into the family estate around midnight and, like Snow White in a rock band, we were greeted by deer and a million fireflies. It is never NOT amazing to me to see these beautiful little glowing beacons that I was well into my adult years before ever experiencing. Because it was so pitch black out, it looked like someone had hung thousands of tiny solar lights from all the trees, and they were flashing dim to bright from all the collected sun. It was mesmerizing and breathtaking all at once. Rudy was completely lost in dream land, but we tried to show him anyway. He didn’t remember at all when he woke up. He said, “You should have just screamed at me.” Can you imagine the years of therapy that would take to undo? “RUDY!!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WAKE UP AND MARVEL AT THE MAJESTY OF THESE TINY BUGS!!!!! YOU’LL NEVER FORGET IT!!!” I think we’ll just wait til tomorrow night. 

Once the little man was in bed, dad and I got silly drunk on a couple whiskeys (first ones on the road!), finished our crossword and around 2:00am, we headed off to bed. Sweet, sweet bed. Soft, creaky, and so familiar, it took us seconds to fall asleep. For the next couple days, we get a break from travel and get to be with family…bliss. 

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