Road Trip 2014 – Grand Island, Nebraska to Iowa City

We slept in a bit in Grand Island, Nebraska – our fifth day away from home. Carla saw the Stuhr Living History Museum on the way into town from the freeway. Since they don’t open until 9:00 AM and our day’s journey would be relatively short, we had the opportunity to get a bit of shut eye. The museum is a reproduction of a railroad town in the late 19th century; on our visit they were reenacting the year 1894.

After checking in at the main building we headed across the pond into town.

Entrance to the Stuhr LivingHistory Museum in Grand Island, NE

The buildings below look to be older than the late 19th century buildings in the main part of town. They weren’t open on visit so we could only get an outside shot. I imagine the trees weren’t around back when the buildings were originally built.

Old house and out building at the Stuhr Living History Museum in Grand Island, NE

Nebraska seemed different to me this trip compared to our 2010 trip. In 2010 we travelled the Lincoln Highway (US 30 more or less) which took us through small farm towns. I remember thinking how flat it was and we saw corn and soy bean fields interrupted every 20 or so miles by tiny towns with a grain silos. On this trip I noticed there was a definite difference as we descended from the Rockies in the west, through rolling hills in central Nebraska giving way to farms in the east. This trip we high-tailed it on I80, a few miles south of our last excursion. Nebraska didn’t seem nearly as flat this trip; rolling hills and tree copses were the primary features, especially in the west and central parts of the state. The farther east we got, the flatter it got and the more farms appeared.

Around lunch time we crossed over the Missouri River into Iowa. Yelp had been a big help for us so I looked for a good barbecue joint for lunch. We found Boxer Barbecue. My expectations rose as we drove down an alley to get to the place. There was a classic beverage store next to Boxer

Brewski’s Beverage in Council Bluffs, IA


Boxer Barbecue in Council Bluffs, IA

Similar to ordering enchiladas, tamales, and refried beans at Mexican restaurants to gauge the grub quality, I like ordering brisket at BBQ joints. I mixed it up a bit and got a combo plate along with pork butt. The pork was nice and tender, falling into beautiful strands. The brisket was tender and smoky – excellent. The smoky, sweet, and hot sauces were all wonderful. To fill it out I had corn bread and potato salad. The iced tea was the best tea I’ve had away from home in years. Portlandians may know coffee, but not iced tea.

Brisket, pork combon plate with corn bread and potato salad at Boxer BBQ in Council Bluffs, IA

Back on the road we headed across Iowa to stay in Coralville, a stones throw from Iowa City. It was flatter here than Nebraska with many more farms and larger fields. I noticed that every field of corn or soy beans would have small patches, usually in low spots, that were planted with grasses – something other than the primary crop. These patches would be maye 50 feet long and maybe 20 feet wide. I don’t know what to make of it; if you know, please leave a comment.


View from a highway rest stop along I80 in western Iowa

Iowa was the most stressful driving of the trip to date. The freeway lanes seemed narrower and not as well maintained. And there was much more traffic. We travelled exactly 400 miles in just a hair over 7 hours.

If you are planning to drive across the mid West in the spring or summer I recommend carrying a couple of extra gallons of windshield washer. We hit it regularly on the drive, and I’d scrub the windshield to get off the dried bits. When we got to our hotel I checked the front of the car – we definitely hit a lot of bugs.

Bug city.

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