Week 2: The Midwest

Well. We've made it to Nebraska. 

Our visit to the falls in Niagara was a bit underwhelming. I think if you're going to do it right, you have to get down into the water – take a boat ride, maybe -- which was just more time in Niagara Falls than we were willing to spend. I don't really know what to say about Niagara (at least the Canadian side) except that it's a bit of a circus. Also, it's worth noting there was a place on what seemed to be the main drag called, “Boston Pizza.” To two former Bostonians, that makes very little sense. There's nothing to write home about pizza in Boston.  

After Niagara, we spent a night near Detroit, a night at a campsite in Kalamazoo, and then moseyed over to Chicago for a bit of an oasis at a lovely hotel downtown -- The Hotel Monaco-Chicago. If you ever visit Chicago, I recommend it. Our night there was a bit of a celebration. Scott was contacted by a company about using some of his footage for a marketing campaign (more about that soon, I'm sure!), which would help with our budget. So we had a beautiful, if hot, night in Chicago. Scott had some trouble saying goodbye to the bed the next morning. 

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Now we're spending a little time in South Sioux City, Nebraska. It's just over the river from Sioux City, Iowa, where my mom's parents grew up. We're renting a “cabin” at a campsite on the Missouri river – cabin apparently meaning concrete structure with a few outlets and a few hammocks. But we have  a terrace with a  river view and the hammocks turned out to be pretty comfortable, so no complaints here. 

I'm in Sioux City to get a little sense of family history, put some pieces together from stories I've heard and read through old letters. We stopped by the house where my grandfather grew up, and there was this towering, beautiful old tree in the front yard that felt like it was reaching out of my grandfather's childhood to give me a hug. If nothing else comes of this visit, that seems like enough. But we'll swing by my grandmother's childhood home later today on our way out. 

Maybe it's that shadow of family here, or maybe it's just that the Missouri River is pretty gorgeous, but we finally fully sunk into a little relaxation last night. We had a fun evening with some fellow campers, drinking beer and sitting by a campfire, swapping stories and jokes and laughs. They gave us tips on stops we should make in the area. The corn palace, for instance. Yes. Palace. Of corn. 

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Studying the wheat. There was a lot of it in Iowa. A lot.

Studying the wheat. There was a lot of it in Iowa. A lot.

In other updates, we continue to learn little lessons about camping. For instance, our first night in Iowa was a mind-numbing 100 degrees, so we thought we'd escape to the movies to find some air conditioning. The plan was going great until we came back and found ourselves locked out of the campsite. Oops.

We drove down the road a bit and pulled over to sleep until the park opened its gates again in the morning. Then, around 5:30 a.m., the car battery pooped out. We fell asleep while it was supporting the air conditioning without the engine running. Oops.

AAA came to jump-start us, and we drove back to our tent and found it about 20 feet from where we left it because we neglected to stake it down before we left for the movies the night before, not expecting the wind to pick up while we were gone. Oops.

So – don't get locked out of your campsite. And keep the engine running if you might fall asleep. And stake the tent if you're leaving the site. And. Probably other lessons, too.

We're off to South Dakota. Might see a corn palace. We'll let you know. 

P.S. If you don't already, you should follow us on Instagram! We post pictures there pretty regularly.