Saturday, May 27, 2000...

Stopped for the night in Coralville, Iowa, about 100 miles from where I spent last Saturday night. I could've walked it in the same time.

Driving east from Hastings, Nebraska this morning, I passed first the D-L-D State Recreation Area, named for the route which predated US 6, and then the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, named for the Republican Senator who once defended a Nixon Supreme Court appointee against charges of mediocrity by noting, "There are a lot of mediocre judges and lawyers." Imagine what he would've come up with to justify George Bush's decision to replace Thurgood Marshall by giving Justice Scalia his own shoeshine boy...

6 continues toward Nebraska's twin capitols in Lincoln: the downtown skyscraper housing state offices (one of the few state capitols of real architectural merit) and the elongated oval in which the Cornhuskers play semipro football. Retired coach Tom Osborne is the heavy favorite to win one of Nebraska's seats in Congress this fall his proven ability to excuse or explain away criminal behavior by his players should stand him in good stead in Washington.

Omaha-Lincoln-Denver Highway sign, c. 1920, W of Lincoln, NE

Eleven miles west of Lincoln, an 80-year-old wooden signpost from the Omaha-Lincoln-Denver Highway still marks the route. 6 skirts the downtown area and heads northeast toward Omaha. From here to Illinois, 6 parallels, and sometimes overlaps, Interstate 80 as the main route, resulting in a much more interesting drive than the miles of farms further west.

Omaha may be hosting the year's two worst concert packages: a bad-70s-flashback of Yes and Kansas, and a bad-80s-flashback of Poison, Cinderella, Dokken, Slaughter and April Wine. But its spiritual side is not neglected: the local right-to-life group is sponsoring "Jesus Day 2000": at a local amusement park. The honoree is not expected to attend. In keeping with the bad-music theme, though, maybe Stryper can headline their event? Somewhere I still have a copy of this Christian heavy-metal atrocity's classic LP, "To Hell with the Devil"...

In western Iowa, I stopped in the farm town of Van Meter to check out the fairly new Bob Feller Museum. The former Indians pitcher shipped several display cases' worth of trophies to his hometown, and has attracted friends like Ted Williams to the museum, but it's still no more than a 10-15 minute stay.

Further east, after spending far too long crossing metropolitan Des Moines, I took advantage of an overlap with I-80 for a quick pit stop at a rest area. As I got out of the car, I noted an all-American Iowa family parked next to me: Mom, Dad and two strawberry-blond kids of about 5 and 7. When I returned, the kids were safely buckled in the back and Mom was pulling out. Then I noticed the bumper stickers. "I WOULD SOONER FUCK A CHICKEN," proclaimed the left rear bumper. "LICK MY SWEATY BAG, BITCH," ordered the right rear. Ah, the wholesome rural life...

I continued through the Amana Colonies, a slightly less commercialized version of Pennsylvania Dutch country, but without the quaint buggies and natives who dress funny. With their small museums, restaurants and quaint "shoppes," the Amana Colonies attract busloads of retirees and captive schoolchildren. I bet every kid in Iowa has been dragged here at least once before turning 15 -- and I'm sure the experience soured many of them on history forever.

Before flying home tomorrow, I'll stop at the Herbert Hoover birthplace/library/museum. Watch for a final update on Monday...


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