Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Becalmed in…Nebraska

It really is Nebraska. It just feels like Hell. As we pulled into North Platte about an hour ago, the 4Runner's outside thermometer read 108°. And outside, well, we're reminded of a mild summer's day in Scottsdale, except with three times the humidity. In short, uggh.

We're on our way back to Colorado Springs from almost five weeks in Chicago. We got our new niece Juliana baptized and almost everything else on our substantial do-it list done, but it took more time and energy than we thought.

Just like, well, always.

We spent last night in Newton, Iowa, the former home of Maytag, back when there still was a Maytag. The hotel we stayed in was awful enough that I will issue an all-points avoidance notice: Whatever else you may do to abuse your body, mind, or soul, do not stay at the Newton, Iowa Holiday Inn Express on 4th Street. Unless, of course, you wish to confront:

  • Mold growing on the walls. Not the bathroom walls, either. The walls in the main room.
  • A hole in the ceiling. It was too dark to see where it went, but it was about 1 1/2″ in diameter and looked like it had been poked with a piece of pipe. (This makes you wonder what the ceiling was made out of.)
  • Wireless Internet that did not work, would not connect, and kept giving me weird error messages. At least it was free.
  • Carpeting that smelled like dead fish or ocean bilge. Or both.
  • Stale Raisin Bran at the breakfast bar.
  • Coffee (again, at the breakfast bar) so bad I couldn't force a second cup down.

You've been warned.

Now, we like Nebraska and have been here a lot. However, there is a local weirdness I'm seeing that I don't entirely understand: Mid-grade gas is cheaper than regular. Gas is generally a bargain here, especially compared to Illinois. Why Plus should be 15c a gallon cheaper than the low-octane mix remains a puzzle.

We're going to stop at Lake McConaughy tomorrow morning (it's about fifty miles west along I-80) but if the heat remains as bad as it was today, we may dunk and run the final 275 miles to the Springs rather than spend the day. There's no shade there, and at some point I just can't deal with long periods in that kind of heat, lake or no lake. We won't know until we get there. I'll keep you posted.

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