The First 24 Hours
My desire was for this piece to publish precisely twenty-four hours after departing for eighteen days of shared life on the road. But it didn’t happen. The pieces I hope to run during our van-cation will be more stream of conscious than anything else.
All seven of us are traveling, and everyone but Peter was ferociously excited about our departure. So naturally we got out the door five minutes early (7:55 pm). Within fifteen minutes, I had complained about the app directions, expressed demonstrative and unnecessary concern about the portable freezer we were taking, and Cora had fallen asleep. Another fifteen minutes and we had our first case of not following travel directions. Another twenty minutes and every child was asleep.
In the case of Peter, it was necessary for us to listen to his “bedtime album”-Noah Gundersen’s White Noise B-Sides. Since its release, the album has been a part of my ritual with Cora and Pete. The album has a soothing impact on him and within two songs he was asleep. He would not sleep for long stretches, however. Sometime around 2 am, we caught Judah playing peek-a-boo with him. They were both politely told to go back to sleep.
From 11:30 pm to 5:45 am I drove. The only “stop” was to pay a toll upon entering Kansas. Both Oklahoma and Kansas tried to bore me to death. Both states produced some sensory depravation. Not only was it dark. But it was evident that there was nothing to see beyond the darkness. The cars driving the opposite direction made for interesting revelations as they entered the horizon against the Kansas fog. But that was my only entertainment.
I woke up in Nebraska. A couple hours of sleep and a Huskers packed McDonald’s breakfast later, we drove ourselves to Fort Kearney and stretched our legs on the locations of the long since gone original fort. The kids ran and climbed. Their shoes covered in damp, defenseless “stickers.” (I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such wet and damp stickers in the south.)
From there we drove to Lostway Brewing. In the midst of college football’s opening weekend, we had the place to ourselves. The kids colored and ate free popcorn as I chatted Nebraska beer laws as well as food places to buy singles of local beers. The beer was phenomenal and if you’re every near (you’d never likely go without reason) Holdrege, NE the brewery is a must visit.
North Platte was our destination for the evenings. A park and carousel helped us stretch our legs. We saw donkeys, deer, buffalo, and an elk before requests for food and sleep made their demands upon us. Twenty four hours and we were all at a breaking point. We ate, fought, showered, and slept. Ready to get up and drive to Custer State Park.