July 24, 2010

The Great Plains

My sister lives 700 miles from my home. It's a journey from the southern to the northern plains, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that everyone seemed to assume such a trip would involve air travel. My mom and I made the trip together and flying never crossed our minds. I don't mind the actual flying part of flying, but the restrictions, the security checks, the delays (both planned and unplanned) and the general hassle make the idea most unappealing to me.

Besides the frustrations related to flying, you miss out on a lot. All of my life, my mother has told stories about the 5 years her family spent in Omaha leading up to World War II. So after driving through eastern Kansas, which is much prettier than I had pictured, I finally got to see Omaha and discovered it's not the city I've pictured. It's beautiful, with hills and trees, and reminds me of my hometown. Mom always told us how hard it was to have to take her driving test in downtown Omaha, which had steep hills. And it turns out she didn't exaggerate too much, as there are some pretty steep hills downtown, but it's not exactly San Francisco, either.

We drove by the houses where Mom and her family lived, including the house where they heard Franklin Roosevelt speak in December of 1941 about the "day that would live in infamy." I could picture my grandparents and Mom and her younger brother gathered around a radio in the living room of that house, as the US entered the war.

Mom has often told stories about the Catholic school that she and another Protestant friend attended in the 9th grade. When one of her classmates announced that she was leaving to attended a public school, a Nun told her to go right ahead and lose her soul. (Most of Mom's stories revolved around fits of giggles during Latin Mass, as Mom and her friend were totally clueless about Catholic traditions.) I finally saw the parish that housed my Mother's brief foray into Catholic education and discovered something I never knew before - her school was on the campus of Creighton University and it's absolutely beautiful. (She insists that it wasn't that pretty then, and she seems to remember snow pretty much year-round in Omaha.) By the way, you can't tell it here, but the church sits on one of those Omaha hills.

As we drove, we saw fields of corn, soy beans, and sugar beets as far as the eye could see. I know that doesn't sound very exciting, but those fields were a sight to behold.

We drove through small towns with their wonderful architecture.


As we neared my sister's small town, we passed a wind farm, which was an unexpected delight.

It was a long drive, a good 13 or 14 hours, but it was a relaxing drive as we soaked up all that we saw along the way and had the opportunity to spend time together that is hard to find when we're back in the regular routine of our lives.

And it was much better than flying.

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears all nature sings,
and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.



  1. I agree that driving across the country is so much better than flying. Totally agree about the hassle of restrictions and fees, etc. I have loved seeing different parts of the country when I've had the chance to drive.

  2. I love that hymn! It sounds like you had a wonderful trip!

  3. i am soooo with you on this. i hate to fly, but
    more than that i love to pass by the lovely fields
    by car.

    you are blessed to enjoy your mom so much.
    sounds like a beautiful drive.


  4. Sounds like you and your mom had a delightful time together making precious memories.

  5. Sounds like an awesome trip - and especially awesome you got to share it with your mom! Glad you are back from your vacation! :-)

  6. Oh I enjoyed reading about your journey. We remember things in such interesting ways and who's to say what is and what isn't where memory is concerned. I once spent a Thanksgiving in Kansas. It must not have been eastern Kansas because it wasn't pretty. What it was was flat. This post makes me want to see what I missed.