Midwest Road Trip: From Missouri to Nebraska
I had never thought about traveling to the Midwest. All I could imagine were the large open prairies and…well, lots and lots of corn. Empty pockets of country with nothing in sight.
It’s all flat! You won’t even see trees!
It was the summer of 2014 and my boyfriend and I had decided that we would split up our summer by visiting each other’s family. He would fly over to Puerto Rico with me and my parents and I would take a 24-hour Midwest road trip with him and his parents to Nebraska. Our plan was to make it out for the College World Series.
On the way there, the 24-hour road trip was split into two days stopping in St. Louis for the night. I had never been to St. Louis nor had I ever visited the St. Louise Gateway Arch. That was the first stop of many and by far the scariest. If you’ve ever made it to the top of the arch, you know what I mean.
I won’t deny to letting out a few small screams when the capsule jerked.
The Gateway Arch is an iconic monument that symbolizes the city’s role as early settlers and westward expansion. From 630 feet high (63 stories), you are surrounded by the beauty, history, and culture of St. Louis.
To reach the top of the monument, you have to take a tram capsule the size of a peanut that travels an approximate 340 feet per minute. Those two minutes had to be about the longest two minutes of my life. I won’t deny to letting out a few small screams when the capsule jerked.
At the top, you enter a narrow hallway with 16 small windows on each side that overlooks the East and West sides of the city – my least favorite part. The monument is designed to be able to sway in the wind; otherwise it would shatter. Trust me when I say that you definitely feel it moving on a windy day. It can sway up to 18 inches towards each side and can withstand an earthquake.
My boyfriend’s grandparents live on the border of Iowa and Nebraska with only a bridge separating the two. Council Bluffs sits on acres of housing developments and golf courses while Omaha had a very unexpectedly beautiful and modern downtown. It’s full of restaurants, hotels, urban apartments, skyscrapers, and a zoo. Who would have thought?
We made it out to four of the College World Series games with the fourth being quite memorable. It started out just like any other game – we got our seats, bought some stadium food, and watched as countless of fans rooted for their team (we came to watch the University of Virginia).
Nebraska is known for its crazy storms so it really wasn’t a surprise when the sky turned pitch black. The lighting put a stop to the game and then the rain started coming, really coming. Only half of the stadium had a roof and of course it couldn’t hold all of us.
Should we just risk it and head back to the car?
But that’s seven blocks away!
We risked it and sprinted seven blocks in the pouring rain. I have never been so drenched and cold in my life. Immediately after getting in the car, we cranked up the heat and laughed until our stomachs hurt. Since we arrived in Nebraska I knew I wanted to experience one of their storms – I’m a sucker for cuddling while there’s lighting – but never thought I would actually get caught in the storm.
The next couple of stops included another three-hour drive to Wood River, Nebraska and a full day at the zoo.
How to describe Wood River: One street, one school, a post office, and a bank. Everything else is taken up by fields upon fields of corn. The whole 24-hours we stayed there, playing horseshoes and watching a group of old ladies play UNO at Godfather’s Pizza.
Since we arrived in Nebraska I knew I wanted to experience one of their storms – I’m a sucker for cuddling while there’s lighting – but never thought I would actually get caught in the storm.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium holds 962 species with a total 21 exhibits. We spent the entire day there, open to close, and we didn’t even have enough time to see everything.
My least favorite exhibit was ‘Kingdoms of the Night.’ This is the biggest nocturnal exhibit reversing day-night cycles where you can actually experience the animals in their natural activity. My biggest fear is frogs so when we arrived at the entrance to the indoor swamp I ran out immediately. All the frogs were just roaming free and it was so dark in there that I could barely keep an eye out to make sure they didn’t jump on me.
This week-long trip came to an end quite quickly, but I am so glad I was a part of it. I got to see a part of this country that I might never have gotten the chance to see if it wasn’t for my boyfriend. I hope to one day visit again and travel even further west of Nebraska.
Photo for Midwest Road Trip: From Missouri to Nebraska by Aleixka M.