You don’t hear that statement too much, do you? Most people think of Nebraska and other mid-west states as sprawling monotonous corn and bean fields with little visual interest. Boring, right?
Not exactly. Maybe it is the nostalgia of spending my childhood years among the cornfields, but I find such beauty in the plains. And I found that beauty again as we cycled through central Nebraska. Immediately upon crossing the state line from Vermillion, South Dakota we began to experience the rolling hills of the northwest corner of the state. Up and down we went as we headed south and west towards Colorado, the geography shifting from those hills to endless flat-lands to grass-covered sand dunes and back again.
The sun is beating down on the hot black pavement snaking slowly up and down over the gentle and rolling hills of Nebraska. Beads of sweat rise and gather with others forming rivulets down my arms, chest, back and face. Groves of trees providing shade are distant. Towns grow elusive and far apart. My thirst is ravenous and is not suppressed with the warm, tepid water in my water bottle.
And I’m smiling. Actually, the whole family is smiling. And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but here – because this feels like home.
Sioux Center, a small town in Northwest Iowa (pop: 7000) claims a special part in both of our lives. Reuben spent a fair amount of his childhood here, and we both attended college in town (were we met). Since we hadn’t been back since our graduation, it was a must that we put it on our route.
For previous rest stops so far on our journey we’ve enjoyed the hospitality of friends and family in the area. We have many friends who still live in Sioux Center but as we didn’t know when we would arrive or for how long we would stay, we decided to book a local hotel. Thankfully the Econolodge is centrally located and provided a very clean and comfortable stay for the 4 nights we were there.Our first stop in town? The Bamboo Garden Chinese Café. I worked here for the 6 years that I lived in Sioux Center. I even lived with the owners and their daughter for 8 months when I needed a place to stay one summer. I hadn’t seen them since we were last in town 8 years ago, and both Reuben and I missed their food so much! It was great to catch up with them and enjoy our old favourite dishes!
We’re hanging out for a couple of days in Sioux Center, Iowa – the town where I spent a fair amount of my youth and where both Heidi and I went to college. With a number of days off we finally have a moment to reflect on our push from Madison, Wisconsin to this point. It has been an event-filled few weeks and we have really enjoyed watching the landscape evolve from the hilly glaciated terrain of Wisconsin’s driftless area to the rolling flats of Iowa farmland.
Before departing Madison, Wisconsin, we took a little side trip to Des Moines, Iowa for a quick weekend with my family. While hopping in a car for the five hour drive was a bit of a surreal experience after a month on bikes, we were grateful to have this additional time with brothers, sisters, parents, grand-parents and great-grandparents.