road trip.

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A move to Denver to satiate my AMD (acute mountain deficiency) was something I’d been thinking about for a long time. Mountains, and corresponding male inhabitants, were alluring, as was a smaller city and slower pace of life.

When I got a great job in Denver, I decided it was time to go. I sold all of my furniture and also sold Chan Wook, my beloved DaeWoo, and acquired a Japanese car that both of my hillbilly brothers informed me were only driven by lesbians. I packed up my new Subaru with the remainder of my belongings, said sad farewells to my Chicago friends, and headed West.

I thought driving to Denver from Chicago would be interesting, a road trip of the type that is often depicted in movies as fun. I failed to recognize that driving from Chicago to Denver entails passing through two of the most boring states in the country: Iowa and Nebraska.

Most of the drive looked like this (I nearly wrecked my Subaru taking this picture, and thus did not risk death taking multiple pictures of the Iowa/ Nebraska landscape):

It took me hours to drive through each of these but I can sum up each in a few key elements:

IOWA

1. Corn

2. World’s Largest Truck Stop. This begs me to contemplate: what is the organization that measures and affirms such claims?

3. No Starbucks: It is noteworthy that the World’s Largest Truck Stop does not know what a Vanilla Soy Latte is or how to make one, even though one desires nothing more than a Vanilla Soy Latte while driving for hours on end.

NEBRASKA

1. Corn plus soybeans

2. 75 mph speed limit

3. People that consistently drive ten miles under said 75pmh speed limit in the left hand lane, causing road rage from former Chicago driver and much passing on the right.

I stayed a night in Omaha to break up the drive. I decided to wander around to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. I was disappointed to find there were no sights and sounds of the city, and I ended up in bed watching the Olympics by 8:30.

The most exciting part of the trip was a stop in a small town in Nebraska to visit an original Pony Express Station, because I am that nerdy.

An old newspaper ad on display there caused me to cackle:

Full of Nebraska humor, I wandered down Main Street to the only diner in town. Although the front door sign clearly said ‘open,’ the place was completely empty, dark, and quiet. I was sure Western bandits were going to arrive at any moment, but instead only a waitress eventually appeared and informed me of the day’s menu – tacos – which I then observed being made by placing previously cooked ground beef on a tortilla and put in the microwave.

It always astounds me how in middle of America’s agricultural heartland, people eat such shitty food. It’s sad, really, and leaves me with an overwhelming desire to introduce them to goat cheese, truffle oil and vegetables.

I asked the waitress some questions about her town, mostly because she hovered over me eagerly as I ate, seemingly excited to have someone to chat with. I asked her about the trains, which seemed to be coming and going with extreme frequency, and she told me there was one every three and a half minutes, mostly full of coal from Wyoming.

“But Obama is tryin’ ta stop that – with the coal, I mean – so people pretty upset ‘bout that. Puttin’ all them people outta work.”

She then proceeded to rave about Obama’s birth certificate, or rather lack thereof, for approximately ten minutes. I now understand that huge red middle to the election-season maps of the US.

As I passed into Colorado, the landscape looked disturbingly similar to Nebraska, and I started to worry. Had I been mistaken? Were there really mountains here!? A couple more hours of driving affirmed that there were, and once the Rockies were in view, I started to get excited.

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Now in Denver, after a turbulent week of driving across the country and starting a new job the following day, I realize how much change is going to be involved in my transition here. I’ve moved around a lot in my life – to Japan, Greece, England, Mexico, Argentina – so moving to Colorado should be a breeze, but it’s more difficult at 30 than it was at 21. Then again, I think it’s healthy to wiggle out of your comfort zone, and I was getting a little too comfortable in Chicago.

So now I live in Denver. It’s bound to be a wild ride. At least I hope so, because otherwise, I’ll have nothing to tell you about.

I just hope to God there are Mormons out here.

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