The time was 6:15AM when I woke up and looked at the time on my laptop computer, realizing that my mom and I had ten minutes to make it to the lobby to get on the van to the airport to catch our plane. This was, as one might imagine, a rather inauspicious beginning to the day. On the plus side, we managed to get ready in a hurry and then rush off to arrive just in time to the van to find out that the van which arrived only had one seat and had to call another driver to pick us up. After a bit of a wait the second driver came and we filled up that van and went to the airport.
At the airport things were highly entertaining. The check-in for American Airlines is in terminal A, but our flight to Rapid City was on the fair end of Terminal B. This meant a lot of wheelchairs and carts. How many? Well, the first person took my mother in a wheelchair from the ticketing booth through security and then we waited for the first cart, which took us to the end of terminal A while I ignored the subtle hints he was trying to give to get a big tip. After waiting for a bit and getting to know a woman with an adorable infant who was on her way to Mississippi, we were on our way through the B concourse with another cart driver, who dropped us off at the gate just as our names were being called to get different boarding passes in different (if not better) seats, before I had the time to write two sentences before the preboarding brought us on the small CRJ to Rapid City, where the flight was lovely even if the window seat I ended up with did not exactly have a window, to my slight annoyance.
Once we got to Rapid City it was a quick process to get our bags and rental car and start the lengthy journey. First we drove two hours south from Rapid City to Chadron, a small town in Northern Nebraska where we made our first stops to get lunch (a very tasty repast at the Country Kitchen) as well as to visit the Museum of the Fur Trade, which also ended up being very tasty, albeit with regards to intellectual food. After this there was a lot of driving east along US 20 in northern Nebraska, as we passed through small towns with not even 100 people in them, stopped for gas in a town where people thought that the gas station was a fine place to just stand around and talk when there were dozens of empty parking spaces within sight to do that.
It was after eating a pleasant dinner that things got to be perhaps the most unusual about the trip. Google maps, for reasons I cannot exactly fathom, had us leaving US 20 shortly after dinner in Oneill and then traveling along various roads that served as a cutoff, perhaps to save a few miles. And while many of those roads were relatively fast and passed alongside cornfields and hayfields and grassfields where beef cattle and horses ate and plenty of bizarre-looking soybean fields that looked slightly blue-green and somewhat alien, especially from a distance, the map had us going along an eleven mile stretch of harrowing gravel roads where we had as many wildlife encounters (1, a skunk successfully managing to avoid being run over) as encounters with other drivers. It was late by the time we got into Sioux City, my 47th state, as there were police towing a wrecked car out of the only road that we were able to travel to go get to our hotel. Finally, though, we did check-in and I was able to provide my mother with some funny videos (including the classic Fur For The Future) before doing a bit of writing, and then a well-earned sleep.