Nebraska along I-80, part one.

I’ve recently returned from a roadtrip from Colorado to Minnesota and back. Along with me were my mom, my 3 kids, and my sister’s 4 elvish children. Ages of the kids: 12, 11, 8, 7, 6, 4, and 3. 2 minivans, 9 people, and many miles. 1 1/2 weeks. Wheeee!

I’ve realized something about myself. I love Americana. I know I love the history of America…it’s why my major was American Studies. But I’ve never come face to face with the kitchsy side of this country until driving along I-80. What a treasure trove of American specific popular culture. Because my mom and I were on a time table and only had a day to cross Nebraska, not to mention the logistical challenge of dragging 7 kids behind wherever we went, I wasn’t able to stop at everything. But I wish I could have! Did you know Kool-aid was invented in Nebraska? And there is a museum display honoring it?

The Fort Cody Trading Post is right off the freeway, and the kids were getting antsy, so we stopped. It looks so cool! It advertises a ‘Buffalo Bill Wild West Miniature Show’ for FREE, which is totally our budget.

Mom, the kids and I walked in to face this:

Apparently by “Trading Post” they mean “Huge Selection of Completely Craptacular Souvenirs That Are Overpriced And That Your Kids Will Whine About Until You Buy Everything For Them”. And THAT, my friends, is totally not our budget. If you can successfully manage to steer everyone through a wharehouse of stuff, (which took 25 minutes and lots of begging) then you will find the miniature show that starts up every 15 minutes.


This, we enjoyed. I can appreciate something that takes someone 12 years to complete. A vision, if you will, of recreating Buffalo Bill’s extravaganza out of tiny blocks of wood. How does one even stumble across that specific passion? We all had fun until it was time to herd everyone back out again.

At the end of the day we reached our hotel rooms in Grand Island and herded everyone out of the cars. Headcount!

“Seriously…does everyone have their buddy?! Hey! We forgot to assign buddies! How many kids do we have here! 13? Wait, that’s too many. Stop running around so fast, so I don’t double count you all. Get in the elevator and stand still! But don’t close the door, in case we’ve left someone in the lobby. I only see 5 in here…where are the other 3? As long as it’s my kids missing, I’m OK. But my sister will kill me if I misplace one of her kids on my first ever ‘cousin’s only’ trip without her! OMG, tomorrow we are SO doing the buddy thing!”

End day one. Everyone got up to the room without any mishaps and had sweet dreams of miniature cowboys, and giant Kool-Aid men. Next up: Leaving Nebraska and cruising up Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Wheeee!

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5 Responses

  1. Cool! I had no idea kool-aid was created in Nebraska. I love traveling by car because there’s so much to see when you travel that way.

    Can’t wait to see the next installment!

    Evie

  2. I went from Oklahoma up through Kansas to Nebraska a few -ten- years ago when my Grandmother passed away – she was from Corpus Christi, but her and Papa’s family’s were 100% farmers from Nebraska.
    It was strange for me – it held its own magic.
    Aside from a brilliant, huge, and orange Harvest Moon, I was totally enchanted by the early century farmhouses, cornfields for miles and miles, prairies and in general, as you said, epitomized Americana.
    Never made it up to Minnesota, but it’s gotta be a different vein of the same – Prarie Home Companion and all that.
    Enjoy your journey.
    If you see any old school houses, or your mother takes you any place and says “this is where your Great Grandmother went to church when she was a girl – take a picture for us.
    Stephanie

  3. Oh my goodness, I love the miniature Wild Bill show. That has to be the best thing I’ve read all morning. I remember driving through Nebraska when I was 10 but all I can recall is flat land. I guess it’s because I never got to visit the Trading Post. 😉 It looks like you guys had a blast. I can’t wait to hear the rest!

  4. I’d heard horror stories about how flat and boring Nebraska is…but I have to say, I loved it. I could have spent another week just driving into all the ‘region specific’ museums to see more americana in action!!!!

  5. You made me really wanna go to Nebraska! LOL

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