May 16, 2012
By Nick Larsen
May 16th, 2012: I sit in a motel in the middle of Iowa typing away resting off an eventful past two days. When I last left off, I was in Pennsylvania after a day in Hershey, since then I have camped in Illinois, played with a frisbee on a beach along Lake Erie, traveled through Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa visiting the future birth place of Captain James Tiberius Kirk. My first experience camping was an eventful one, making friends with the neighboring campers and learning how to properly light a campfire without lighting myself on fire. Setting up camp, my fellow adventurers and I quickly learned, we have no idea how to set up a tent. After a series of misplaced stakes, strange tent shapes, and running from bugs; the tent was set for the night and the exploration had began.
Looking upon our camp site (called KOA), we quickly realized, pollen is evil and much larger in Illinois. It was like a snow field, filled with pollen the size of half dollar coins, falling at an ever constant rate, refusing to let up. Luckily none of us are bothered by pollen, so we continued off to go see Lake Erie. Before we could leave, a kind old man living in the trailer across from us greeted us and let us play with his dog. About ten minutes down the road, we reached our new destination, a beach lining the lake that was drenched in sunlight. The water was cold and an occasional dead fish lay half devoured along the shore, so the decision was set to toss around a Frisbee and lay in the sun instead of swimming. A nice little beach, with an enjoyable playground for both the young and young at heart.
With night coming down around us, we quickly went back to camp, made a fire and cooked hotdogs in the setting sun. The hotdogs settling in our stomachs, we quickly pulled out our ghost story book and prepared some s’mores. As the moon began to rise the fire burned brightly around us as “scary stories” were read and last laughs were heard before settling in for a good nights sleep. With the occasional animal call, neighbor conversation, and passing train, the night passed by without a fight bringing in the adventure of taking down camp early the next day. The sun rose, and with it so did we, and our adventure continued with plans to cross three more states.
While the goal was accomplished a few observations were made along the way. For one, taking the highway across the country takes you across mainly farm land, and if you fall asleep in one state, everything looks the same in the next. I thought I was in Ohio for almost the whole time in each state. Secondly, Indiana sucks. Nothing against anyone from there, just the construction zones are obnoxiously long before and after the construction actually begins. Granted I slept through all of it, but waking up to be told it put us five hours behind was not the greatest thing. Okay, we weren’t really five hours behind, I was later told it was only half an hour behind, but still; compared to Iowa and Ohio, those construction zones are a pain. Back to the adventure!
Traveling through Iowa I discovered…most of the towns close up around 4pm and they remind me of Children of the Corn by Stephen King. Scary empty and eerily quiet, the towns had an odd vibe like a backwoods monster breezed through the towns each day at 5pm. That aside, Iowa is an amazing state filled with quiet simple towns that are a great change to a guy like me raised in the city. Our main goal to visit, Riverside, Iowa (future birthplace of Captain Kirk), appeared to have one main road filled with all the shops you would need, a playground, a Star Trek museum, and a gas station. Most of which closed at 4pm (we got there at 4:30pm) but, still a great town to see and worth the visit for any Star Trek fan. My personal favorite place, and one I hope to visit again one day, came in the shape of Cedar Falls. The best way for me to describe it was like a replica of Smallville Kansas straight out of Superman! The town was filled with happy social people, welcoming visitors and open for conversation. If you get the chance, find this town and take a look around! That being said, its an early start tomorrow, so as always my fine feathered reader, enjoy your summers! Next stop, Mt. Rushmore.
Nick Larsen’s Cross Country Road Trip, Part 2