Since March, I've been spending every spare minute preparing for the woodblock printmaking workshop and residency at Constellation Studios. Finally, the day had come to drop everything, pack the van, and head halfway across the country to Lincoln, Nebraska.
Knowing that I was going to be giving up my "normal" life of mountain hikes and swimming in wild rivers and lakes, my friend was able to convince me to take one last hike and swim as I was leaving. He drove out Highway 140 with me toward Nevada and we stopped to hike and swim in Woodpecker Lake. As is often the case out here in the wilds of Oregon, we had the whole place to ourselves. The air was warm, and the water was the perfect type of cold - refreshing but not freezing.
After that, I took off, driving in an unusual direction for me. As the sun was setting, it was directly behind me.
Since this trip is going to be a long one and the time is short, I'll be driving far into the night while I'm in somewhat familiar terrain. When I get to beautiful and unfamiliar places, I only want to drive in the daytime so I can see the places that I'm passing through.
When I get out on long straight highways, I don't mind stopping in the middle of the road for a minute to take a photo because I can see cars that are 2-3 minutes away in each direction. This sight was so beautiful that I had to stop and take a photo. The moon was slowly rising directly in front of me.
Finally, it got to be quite late and I was too tired to press on so I stopped. In the morning Iwas excited to see these mountains illuminated by the sunrise. And they're off! Day 2.
In the middle of the day I stopped in for a quick break and a meal with a friend in Salt Lake City. We've known each other for over 20 years, meeting when he moved to Santa Cruz in something like 1994. He moved back to SLC a few years ago so we see each other quite rarely these days. It was nice to stretch my legs and have a quick visit.
The rest of the very long day was a blur. I knew that I wanted to arrive in Nebraska as quickly as possible so that I could rest up and be ready to sponge up information as thoroughly as I could. I did't really stop to take many pictures, opting instead for one-handed camera operation when there was nobody around me on the road. Sorry about the window reflections.
At sunset, though, I did have to pull over. I could catch glimpses of a sunset in my rearview mirror and needed to stop and see what I was missing. It was spectacular.
Then I slept at another rest area somewhere outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming. There was a giant bust of Lincoln at the rest area, a foreshadowing of the weeks to come...
In the morning I got up and pressed on, driving out of the Rocky Mountains and into the plains. There is one very notable feature of the large expanses of farmland - the skies are HUGE! This means that you can see hundreds of miles in every direction. Living in a very mountainous region, I'm not used to this at all. It also means that the clouds do very strange things. (Or maybe that I can see the strange things that clouds always do...) This is a crooked snapshot of a weird dark V-shaped formation that was flat on the bottom and mottled like a checkerboard. I've never seen anything like it.
And then, I arrived in the truly flat farmland of Nebraska. There is so much corn that the locals tell me it's changing the environment. From the highway, you can't really see over it very much. It's tall! So I drove onto an overpass to take a panorama from a vantage point that's higher than the corn.
And then, almost soon as it began, the trip was over. I had arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was looking at the tallest building in town. I am now kicking myself that I didn't see if there are tours of this building. I'd be surprised if you couldn't see the Rockies from the top.
So here it is, laid out on the map, three days of travel. The bright dots are places where I stopped to stretch my legs, get gas, or take a picture. As you can see, I didn't really dilly-dally on this trip. I checked into my Airbnb, took a shower, and headed out for a quick bite to eat before crashing hard.