In Defense of Nebraska
There was no state that we were warned against more than Nebraska. "It's boring," many have said with a disgusted look. "And so flat!" Nebraska had garnered the scorn of many who had driven I-80 through it at some point of their life, and from those who had heard of others traversing it. I once saw a student describe it as a dotted road he drew across a blank page. Even residents in Iowa found it to be an unattractive neighbor that they held little goodwill towards.
In my mind as well Nebraska existed only as a slow transition from the homogenous, yet pleasant cornfields and farmhouses of Iowa to the aggrandized mountains in Colorado and Wyoming. The road was flat, much like lines in notebook paper, but after we left lincoln we began to see a state and its people take on character. The red-brown pavement stretched on without any shrubbery or trees next to it and every 15 or 20 miles it led into a small town. Each town began with tall grain silos on the left that you watch for miles while you approach and a few storefronts across from them. Trains carrying coal or grain pass along the town, reportedly every 7 minutes, their full length evident in the open land. A breeze would pass through our spokes and carry the smell of distillers with it. It was the first place we saw cowboy hats and a change in people's demeanors towards a reserved, friendly conservatism and sometimes TV-like down-home idiosyncracies. It was the subtle beginning of the west.