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Cross Country Trip, Day 1: Ohio to Omaha

10 States, 2 Weeks, 5 National Parks, 2 Countries, 1 National Monument, a Cruise, and Food. (A Lot of food.)

I’m considering a lawsuit against Stephen King, and I don’t think I’m alone. Every child of the eighties who lived in the middle of nowhere will be on my side. We’re entitled to compensation for the mental anguish he caused. Why? Corn.
If you, like me, lived in the country in the eighties, then you know what I’m talking about. I was eight when I watched Children of the Corn at my neighbor’s house. (They had Cinemax!) From that day, I never looked at a field without wondering if pint-sized serial killers were lurking within.
Wait, you say, Children of the Corn was a far-fetched horror movie that in no way reflects reality. It’s hardly Stephen King’s fault that—three decades later—I still imagine Isaac staring through the stalks. You know what? No lawsuit winnings for you; I refuse to share with the non-supportive. Stephen King aside, cornfields are terrifying.
For city dwellers who may be scratching their heads, allow me to enlighten you. You’re walking down a deserted road in the middle of nowhere—an unsettling feat in its own right. Beside you is a field of seven-foot-tall plants, row after row after row of perfectly aligned vegetation, like some sort of grass army. They’re eerily silent, and then the wind moves and their tassels begin to sway—hisssssss. Leaves rustle—flip, flip, flip. You break out in a cold sweat and walk faster, but the corn is everywhere. You can’t escape it. Did I mention the spiders? There are thousands of them–huge, orb-weaving spiders, black and furry with glaring yellow blobs on their backs. I’m convinced that if urban gangsters were driven to the middle of nowhere and told to run through a cornfield at night, they would be scared straight.
The creepiness of corn isn’t conjecture on my part. Once when I was five, my neighbors took me into the corn for a secret club meeting. (These are the same neighbors who showed me the movie, come to think of it.) Far into the field stood a bare patch, a bald spot the plow had missed. For that summer it was our meeting place. It was terrifying. The corn—so tall, so ominous—swallowed sound and light. A few steps into the dizzying maze, and I couldn’t wait to leave.
On the way in and out we had to scale a rusty barbed wire fence. Once I fell and cut my palm on broken glass. My point here is that no good comes from corn and my neighbors were probably a little shady for dragging me into the corn and allowing me to watch horror movies unattended. (Fright Night made me fear red alarm clocks. The Exorcist caused me to believe owls were possessed because their necks turned in a circle. Isn’t it amazing how times have changed? Today if someone showed my 5 year old R-rated movies and dragged her into the middle of a cornfield, it would be an episode of Dr. Phil. Back then it was just another day.)
But what does corn have to do with a travel blog? A lot. See, I grew up and moved to an even more remote location. This is the view from the front of my house.

Don’t get me wrong; corn is pastorally appealing in its way. I’m sure right now the Bizarro me is wishing desperately for a glimpse of Amish country. (“Curse these mountains and ocean. Why can’t I see corn?!”) After a while, though, one desires a change of venue.

Mom & Dad

These are my parents. (Good segue, no?) Note that this picture is not current. It is, in fact, nearly fifty years old. This fall my parents will celebrate the big one. When their 25th anniversary rolled around, I was twelve and my sisters were entering and leaving college. Flush with cash, we threw them a swanky soiree at the church fellowship hall, complete with butter mints and paper napkins emblazoned with a silver 25. Sensing that this year’s celebration would be a redux of the first, (only with a bigger bag of mints and gold napkins because, hey, we all have jobs now,) they instead decided on a family vacation. But where to go? What to do? Alaska!

What does Alaska have to do with corn, you may ask. (You’re sort of beginning to push my buttons here with all the nosy questions. One more, and I’ll add you to my Stephen King class action lawsuit. Don’t prod the litigious; it ends well for no one.) Anyway, the entire family will set sail from Seattle and cruise for seven days. But first, my parents, husband and I will traverse cross-country, hitting as many historic landmarks (read: bakeries) as humanly possible. A week and a half of driving, family togetherness, and sight-seeing. Did I mention my dad and I both get carsick? And I have a five year old?

But I digress. Back to corn, the main point of this missive. I’m leaving the corn behind. This will be my second trip to the Pacific Northwest. Now I know what to expect, and I can’t wait to get started. The bears, the sheep, the mountains, the ocean, the…corn?

indy corn

Apparently it’s going to take a while to break free of Middle America. Here we are in Indiana. Their corn looks a little puny. (Hey, I may be ready for a break from corn, but that doesn’t make me a corn traitor. Ohio corn, woo-hoo!!…Yeah, it’s definitely time to spend some weeks away from the produce.)
Iowa. Now we’re getting somewhere!

iowa corn

Oh, wow, their corn somehow looks more cornlike than other corn.
As a final irony, we’re stopping for the night on the border of Omaha in the—wait for it—Cornhusker State. Tomorrow we venture north to National Monuments and freedom.

*For supper, we stopped at Dixie Quicks in Council Bluffs, IA. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and it was delicious. It was a long day and I took no pictures; don’t judge me.


About vanessagraybartal

Author. Eater. Wife. Mother. Not necessarily in that order.

2 responses to “Cross Country Trip, Day 1: Ohio to Omaha

  1. Pam ⋅

    Can’t wait to hear more!!!!!! Thanx!

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