We're here. The cross-country trek, or at least the first half of it, is over. Will I have the energy to blog the return trip in late August? Hard to say, but this has been a pretty fun way of capturing some memories.
Today we awoke in Council Bluffs, packed up and headed out for some brunch. Naturally, my Midwestern instincts kicked in and brought us to the nearest Perkins, where we feasted on omelets, pancakes, french toast, fresh fruit and so-so coffee. Needing a stronger caffeine kick for the final leg of our relay, we began a search for a coffee shop.
Well, here in the heartland, or at least in Iowa, you won't find a Starbucks on every street corner like you might in a major metropolitan area. In fact, Fiona related the hard lesson she'd learned as we cruised along the highway near the river: "They've got all these casinos here but no Starbucks?"
Eventually I spotted a sign for Western Iowa Community College, and we quickly did the math: college students = need for caffeine. We still didn't find a Starbucks, but we did come across a quaint mom-and-pop-and-dog joint called the Coffee Stop that had everything we wanted: coffee and wi-fi. Plus Nora got to play with the dog while Fiona and I checked e-mail, so everybody won.
Later on the road, Nora notified me that a pit stop for bathroom-related reasons was relatively urgent, so we pulled off at the next exit in search of a gas station. Five minutes later, as we were nearing the lavatorial oasis, came the Backseat Exchange of the Day:
Nora: "Dad, I really have to go. I'm dancing back here!"
Dad: "I know, I know. We're almost there."
Nora: "Well, can I at least have some music to go with my dancing?"
Stifling my laughter, I turned off the audiobook I was enjoying and cranked up a CD for my dancing daughter.
North of Des Moines, Fiona surveyed the landscape and let loose a contented sigh. "I know we're not in Minnesota yet, but this just looks like home to me."
Amen, sister. And here we are.