cross country road trip: part two

see part one, here. 

It all goes wrong in Des Moines.

Back on the highway, burgers in our bellies, we miss the turn-off for I 80. Well, Ma says, We did want to take the back roads for part of the trip, anyways, and so we map out a way to take state highways to Sioux Falls where we'll stay for the night. It will be a long few hours, but we're both eager to see little midwestern towns, with white steepled churches and little schools and cute downtown diners, the stuff you see in movies, anyways.

Except, we never see that.

For hours, we drive on flat, endless highways through cornfields--empty landscapes, unchanging for miles. We hardly see any cars; the only sign of civilization are the long driveways and black mailboxes, every mile or so. We almost run out of gas, and stop in one of the few towns we see--Early, population 557 (one of the bigger towns, actually).

At the crossroads of a highway, we pull into a parking lot, the wind whipping the doors closed as we jump out to cautiously circle around an abandoned motel. The doors are bolted shut, but I can see into it, and Ma and I get into our usual argument--I'm going to go in! Not over my dead body, Shannon Cathleen. 

Hours later, and we're still driving through the deserted back highways of Northwestern Iowa, seemingly nowhere near Sioux Falls. We are both cranky; Ma has me pull over because I'm driving too fast, and she's going to lose her mind if I continue.

We pull into Sioux Falls near nightfall, and rush to a Panera before it closes. It's one of the ugliest cities I've ever seen, nothing but busy roads and rushing, and we head back to the hotel to console ourselves with wine and broccoli cheddar soup, because We Are Tired Of This. We're eager to get to the next part of the trip--The Badlands, and then straight through to Wyoming--and, so, Sioux Falls gets no love.

(to be continued) 

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