Thursday, August 6, 2015

Memories on 20

So I'm the worlds worst vacation taker it would seem...

Yesterday I made the drive to Gordon, NE and left my place in Saint Louis around 4:15AM. It was a rather bizarre feeling. Less than 24 hours before I had left my friend's house for the airport in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.

There's something special, for me, about leaving when it is dark; it's as of I'm on an adventure that few people know about. The usual busy roads of Saint Louis were empty and as I got on I-70 west of town the only sign of life were the rest areas filled with semi-trucks.

The sun was up when I got to Columbia but the cloud cover was dense. Still though traffic was light and I was enjoying this feeling of freedom on the open road.

The miles went by and I crossed into Iowa then made it entered Nebraska at Omaha. This was the first time I felt something wrong. Wrong? This wasn't the first time in my life I was headed to Gordon because my grandma lived here and for many summers this was my family's vacation destination, but we always came in through Blair, NE, but now is was on roads to the south of what I was used to. Used to? It had been over 15 years since I came out here but it felt wrong because it wasn't what I had done first.

Lost within the beauty of corn as far as the eye could see in every direction was this frustration that I was doing my trip wrong. It wasn't until I got to O'Neill that it felt right. I merged onto US 20 and a gigantic burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

The scenery was much greener than I had ever seen it. It's been a rainy summer and the Sand Hills actually were many vibrant shades of green. Down the road I made it to Valentine and I looked desperately for the place my family attempted to eat at in 1991, only to sit for an hour and instead of getting hamburgers the only thing served was water (I don't believe they even got the sodas served) so we left before the food was served. That was the first time in my life that had happened but as I drove through, the building as I remembered it was not there.

The hills continued to roll and I did notice that the train tracks which had run parallel to US 20 were gone; not decaying or wasting away but gone with little trace they had been.  This as well saddened me as it was an obvious sign that time moves on, but as I got to the small village of Cody (population 154) the town was exactly how I remembered it with the run down rodeo arena on the east side of town with a school bus acting as the PA booth. Then, when I got to Merriman, the emblem of three heads of wheat were still painted on the grain elevator. To most this would be a non-point, or even something noteworthy, but to me it put a smile on my face and all seemed right with the world.

I now had just 30 miles left and the hills were hillier than I remembered them. Maybe it's because I had never driven into town from this direction, but as I was about six miles out there was a bigger hill than the rest and I knew this was Six Mile Hill and as I passed over the crest I could see it! Gordon was ahead and the grain elevators were the same as was the radio tower south of town. It may have been near a couple decades but as I passed the airport it all seemed as if my childhood was intact. The bowling alley, Main Street, it all seemed the same. The Theater is boarded up, but it's still there, other buildings and businesses have come and gone, and the cars may be newer than the last time I was here, but time hasn't changed this place too much. It's as I remember it and that was the grandest of all memories I had on my drive to Gordon.

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