Sidney, Nebraska, to Altoona, Illinois

We left Sidney, Nebraska, at about ten in the morning. Our first stop was the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park out side North Platte, Nebraska. Buffalo Bill’s house was set up the way I remember historical houses being set up when I was a child, with no influence from the cadre of trained museum professionals. No trained museum professional would have a life-sized mannequin dressed as Buffalo Bill greeting you from the parlor on the right as you entered the door of the house; no trained museum professional would have a slightly moth-eaten buffalo head hanging in one of the horse stalls in the barn; no trained museum professional would let you wander around in the hay loft without any signs explaining exactly what you were seeing. We ate lunch at some picnic tables in the shade of tall trees, within sight of four young buffalo the state arranges to have living in a pen a hundred yards from Buffalo Bill’s house. The entire state historical park was utterly delightful, and I got the sense that Buffalo Bill’s ghost (if he has one) must like the whole arrangement very much.

We tried to stop for dinner in Lincoln, Nebraska, but got lost, and finally just grabbed a cup of coffee and a sandwich to go at a bookstore that seemed to sell more tchotchkes and coffee and snacks than books.

As we drove further, everything began looking so very green. It is not green this time of year in California, it is brown. And the air began to feel humid. We were approaching the midwest.

We stopped again at the Pottawattamie rest area in Iowa. From a display on the wall, I learned about the 200 foot high loess hills of Iowa, amongst which the rest area was sited, and which are a geographical marvel. I found a mulberry tree which, by the evidence of the stains on the sidewalk, had dropped all its ripe fruit. Carol found something that looked like blueberries, though the plant was a definite tree, and the leaves didn’t quite look like blueberry leaves:


But the rest area attendant assured her that he and the local FedEx delivery man ate lots of the fruit, so Carol did, too. What a great rest area — a geology lesson, fruit for the picking, a clean and pleasant rest area, with free wifi to boot — and it made me think that Iowa must be an enlightened state, to treat passing strangers as honored guests. Somehow this reminded me that Iowa is one of the states that ratified same-sex marriage. Then Carol got email from one of the people with whom she sells solar panel leases: the Supreme Court struck down Prop 8, and same sex marriage is now legal in California.*

Then we drove and drove until we reached Altoona. And here we are, late at night, in another Motel 6.


*Though the BBC Web site reports that “the San Francisco appeals court has said it will wait at least 25 days before allowing same-sex marriages to resume in California.” But that delay means I will be back in California in time to perform weddings — Amy, the senior minister at the Palo Alto church, and I have talked about doing free weddings for anyone of any gender who wants one, probably on the first day that they are allowed. More on this as the situation develops….

5 thoughts on “Sidney, Nebraska, to Altoona, Illinois”

  1. Dan,

    I’m enjoying the details of your trip. I *think* that tree’s a huckleberry, so especially apt as you near the Mississippi.

    I’m not sure where you’re headed, but you’re a lot closer to southwest Michigan that usual. Stop on by if you have time!


  2. Bess says they are serviceberries, also called June berries. I trust her judgment.

  3. Ha, serviceberries! Now we know. Thanks, Bess!

    I wish we could pop up to visit you, but it’s looking like our schedule won’t let that happen — I’ll call if anything changes.

  4. FYI, on your statement that the Supreme Court struck down Prop 8, just wanted to give this clarification because it is no time to think this Court did anything that open-minded (though the decisions were as good as we could have gotten with this conservative majority) and because it emphasizes how important it is to do something about the dangerous and misguided evisceration of the Voting Rights Act by this majority conservative court the day before the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions.

    All the Supreme Court did was hold that an individual citizen did not have standing to appeal the district court’s holding to the 9th Circuit when the state did not choose to appeal to preserve its own law. The result of this narrow ruling was to leave intact the district court opinion saying Prop 8 was unconstitutional, but that is radically different that SCOTUS holding Prop 8 unconstitutional. Instead, now it’s every state for itself, complete confusion in the worlds of employee benefits, trusts and estates, and related areas. Most critical, it is completely uncertain from the decisions whether the courts will find that Constitution’s “full faith and credit” provision requires states that forbid (or do not allow) same-sex marriage to recognize an out of state same-sex marriage for purposes of state and municipal level laws, rights, protections, etc. (i.e. whether a marriage in California will be recognized in a state like Florida that does not honor same sex marriages). For this, and so many other reasons, we need to make sure every citizen has the vote, knows it, and gets out and votes.

    Glad, though, that you will be offering marriages to all at your church on return. Love and light.

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