Greetings from Nebraska City, Nebraska, where I'm spending the next couple of weeks on a writing residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. There are four of us in residence right now, five if you count the stray kitten that sleeps on my patio: two painters, a composer and me. I'm not sure yet what the kitten's talent is.
After fueling up at a great breakfast buffet at the Kingsley Inn, I started on the third and final leg of my journey on Sunday. I'd contemplated driving north to DesMoines to see Edward Hopper's "Automat" at the art museum. But a glance at the map convinced me that it was too far out of my way and after nearly sixteen hours of driving in the previous two days, I wanted just to get there. And so, after a walk along the Mississippi River, I headed out on Highway Two, a scenic two-lane highway that crosses the state from east to west. Along the way, I saw only two McDonald's (good), hills and wildflowers (even better) and too many wild turkeys to count--the bird, not the drink. The wild turkeys I saw tended to huddle in gangs by the side of the road and glare at me--somewhat malevolently, I thought. That could have been because I was the only car on the road for miles. I also saw a quail or two and dozens of hawks dive-bombing the farmer's fields in search of small mammals. Iowa Public Radio broadcasted both hours of Bob Edward's show--a real treat to hear, as we don't get it in Rochester. I also listened to the Cardinals get thrashed by the Phillies in Philadelphia and lots of Foreigner-Journey-Kansas-Boston on an oldies station. More than a feeling . . .
I stopped for gas in a small town where the gas station bathroom featured a sign on the door designating it as a safe place in a tornado-- somewhat ironic, since the tornado action during the weekend was in Western New York.
After that beautiful drive across Iowa, I crossed the Missouri River into Nebraska City, Nebraska, around 3:30 in the afternoon and checked in at the Lied Lodge & Conference Center.
As stated in their literature, the lodge is environmentally friendly, heated and cooled with renewable fuelwood that's grown on the grounds. It's also gorgeous, if you like Stickley furniture and Craftsman decor, which I do. The lobby (pictured here) was a nice place to sit and type on my computer. As an added bonus, students from the University of Nebraska's low residency MFA program are currently in residence here and there are faculty lectures each night. I hope to catch William Trowbridge's lecture on Thursday--he's the author of The Complete Kong, which contains one of my favorite poems, "Kong Looks Back on His Tryout With the Bears."
More about that and the residency tomorrow.