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Small Town Life, With Bombers

FatDogSign.jpgHey! We’re here again! Where’s here? Heh. Guess.

It was a boring trip, and when I’m driving, boring is good. It was so boring, in fact (64 degress, clear skies, no wind to speak of) that I just kept on going and did 480 miles the first day, taking us all the way through Fat Dogs country and out the other side. My driving maniac friends may grin to think of 480 as a lot of miles, but with four dogs’ worth of potty breaks (and a few for us) it got to be a drag by 6 PM. And so we stopped for the night at Grand Island, Nebraska.

Just before dawn, a front carrying rain and cold air caught up with us, and we played tag with it the rest of Day 2. Getting out in front of it was easy, and while we were out in front we stopped for most of an hour to walk the dogs and look around in Ashland, Nebraska, population 2,200. The Midwest Homebrewers and QRP Group meets there, in part because it’s about halfway between Lincoln and Omaha. That’s also the reason I wanted to take a look: Carol and I have thought of renting a small house for a month or so as a pied a terre and exploration base in interesting places like eastern Nebraska. Being less than an hour from both Lincoln and Omaha, Ashland would be almost ideal.

First Congregational Church, Ashland, Nebraska

And it’s a great town, maybe just a hair smaller than what I consider the ideal size for human communities. Tidy older homes along streets lined with big trees, a cobbled Main Street, riverside park with walking trails, ham radio club, an aerospace museum full of classic bombers (plus an Atlas missile), broadband–what else could a man need? (And if I do need a megalopolis for some reason, Omaha is just a short trot out I-80.) Remember: Boredom is a choice.

We met my friend Darwin Piatt W9HZC for lunch in downtown Omaha at the Old Market, where I signed his copy of The Cunning Blood and we BSed about homebrewing and much else before the front caught up with us and it started to drizzle again. Then it was back on the road, where we eventually got out in front of the rain and made it to Iowa City before packing it in. Day 3 is always short, and we rolled into Crystal Lake about 3 PM.

We’ll be spiffing up the dogs for the Bichon Nationals the end of next week, but in the meantime I have a few days to gather my thoughts, take notes, visit with my sister and her girls, and maybe write a little. It’s been a long, cold, ugly winter (and let us pray that the current volcanic tantrum in Iceland doesn’t dump us into yet another Little Ice Age) so I’m greeting spring with an enthusiasm I don’t think I’ve felt for twenty years or more. For the moment, life is good, and I’m savoring it.


  1. Fred says:

    Some good airplanes in that museum, including the monster B-36.

    Hard to believe all those successful aircraft were designed by white shirted, black tied, crew cut engineers without using a single digital computer.

    Drafting tables, slide rules, hand calculations, nomograms, and books of tables and graphs.

    No pansy HR departments to gum up everything. You weren’t hired if you weren’t good and after hiring, if you didn’t pull your weight, you didn’t stay long.

  2. […] people who hadn’t read my earlier entries about it, Fat Dogs (see the photo of their sign in my April 19th entry) is a small chain of gas stations/convenience stores in western Nebraska. They’re so small […]

  3. Bruce Schindler says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I’m Bill Schindler’s brother. We’re a bit west of that Fat Dogs in Grand Island, south of Holdrege, Nebraska. The Air & Space Museum is a good visit. I was there back in 2001 (September, actually). Also the Hay Market in Lincoln is good.
    Anyway, if you’d like to say hi, or get together, it’d be great.

  4. […] It’s the smallest town I’ve ever seen that I’d be willing to live in, even though it doesn’t have a museum full of bombers close […]

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