Friday, February 29, 2008
Geography of Nebraska
Not the natural kind, the human kind. Far more annoying to talk about. The garden blog community is popping up with this geography project, and, not being from Nebraska, I thought: what would I want to see and do if I were a REALLY BORED tourist who'd seen every other state and was starving for a road trip?
Nebraska has corn and cows and ethanol. Yup. Nebraska is flat, unless you go up to the northwest corner near the sandhills of South Dakota--yet another state I said I'd never live in and so, like Nebraska, I figure is next on the list. We've got some rivers, the Platte and the Mizzou. Got a large contingent of migrating birds that stop over here in spring and fall--those sandhill cranes in the middle of the state, and lots of canada geese in the midwest flyway, among others. These migrations attract people from all over the world.
Here's a list of all the OTHER cool things that are human made and so FAR more interesting (sarcasm noted?):
1) Home to the Strategic Air and Space Museum, formally headquarters for the first strike, er, line of defense against them Russians. I wonder how many missile silos ARE out here? Go to the museum, which I would like to do, and see neato weapons of death, including a 1950's era hydrogen bomb "stripped" of its bad bits. Sure.
2) Nebraska, birthplace of Kool Aid.
3) Nebraska, home of the farmer druid sect which immigrated from England in.... eh. Carhenge. We've got Carhenge in the panhandle.
4) Ashfall Fossil Beds in northern Nebraska. 12 million years ago a volcano in Idaho blew burying parts of Nebraska in 2 feet of ash. Lots of rhinos here.
5) We have / had Andy the Footless Goose in Hastings in 1991. Born footless (but not fancy free), Andy's owner made shoes for him so he could walk around. Then, tired of cowtipping, some unknown local nut job kidnapped Andy and chopped his head and wings off, only leaving the body--shoes still on. Andy has a headstone and all. Sorry about #5 everyone.
6) But, to make up for #5, the largest ball of stamps is in Omaha. Eh.
7) LOTS of football fans. My lord. I don't leave the house on Saturdays in the fall. NO JOKE. I also try to say as many anti Husker things as I can while teaching. Hey, it makes them perk up.
8) Lincoln is the state capitol. It has a 400' center, 2nd only to Louisiana's. On top is a figure of a man throwing seeds out of his satchel. We have a nickname for all this. Penis of the Plains, or, The Prairie Penis. Sowing its seed. I don't know--never gets old to me.
9) I hear Lincoln has a nice telephone museum.
10) Lincoln has some bison. I live near a prison which is near the bison. I can hear the guards on the loudspeakers call inmates in from the yard for chow or sleep. It helps pass the time while gardening. What's that... wh wha what's that orange thing behind the cedar? Hello?
11) World's largest time capsule is in Seward. Has a car or two in it.
12) Look, to be honest, the interstate system was created for a reason. Once on I-80, keep going. The nice thing is Nebraskans SEEM to understand, and so we have high speed limits of 75 or 80 or somewhere around there. Either that, or they don't want you stopping, sniffing around, and discovering that the steaks here really ARE some of the best. If you're into that.
Arbor Day was started here in an effort, it seems, to create a forest in a prairie. Glad we didn't have that kind of hubris again pertaining to climate zones.
Hey. Look. A desert. Golf courses would go GREAT there.
Nebraska also had some guy named Audubon, who--if you read Lisa Knopp's The Nature of Home--helped care for birds by shooting and stuffing them. But it's not about the man, right, it's about what kind of legacy develops afterward, right?
I give you Nebrasky. Not a bad place. Not a great place. Just an American place where the car insurance ain't bad, but the phone taxes are.