Dear Nebraska,

We need to talk.  This relationship isn’t working. I think we’ve both known for some time that we’re not right for each other, but I’m only just now finding the courage to tell you the truth to your face.

I remember the first time we met—the first time I can remember, anyway. I was in my early twenties, a recent college graduate just starting to make her way in the world. Driving from my parents’ house in Wisconsin, I was heading toward Leadville, Colorado, to test my mettle on a 2½-month Colorado Outward Bound outdoor course, after which I would begin a new life in the Mountain West.  I had driven for hours and was seriously in need of rest. The mental fade had begun in Omaha, but with Lincoln only 60 miles down the road, I decided to push on, buoyed by the idea of one less hour of driving the following day. But when I arrived at your capital city, there was literally no room at the inn(s). The Nebraska State Fair was in full swing, it turned out, and after stopping at hotel after hotel (these being the days before cell phones) and being told no vacancy, I started to panic. Finally, I found a hotel with one available room, a honeymoon suite I could ill afford but took anyway in soporific desperation.

The next day, poorer but wiser, I continued getting to know you and your open expanses as I sped on down the road toward the mountains beyond your border. Flush with youthful excitement on my first solo cross-country road trip and tapping the steering wheel to songs of inspiration and optimism, I could find no fault with you, me, or the world.

Since that first rendezvous, though, things have gone south. In meet-up after meet-up, you present the same dull personality, the same tedious landscape. You’re flat and insipid. You’re longwinded. You’re wearisome and repetitious.

In short, you’re a bore.

Before our most recent encounter, however, I thought things might be changing for the better. I harbored real hope that this relationship could be salvaged. Word reached me that there was a part of you that was different, exciting, flashy even. Your northwest corner was unlike your central corridor, I was told.  It had curves, hills, relief.  I was sure Scotts Bluff National Monument would be the answer to our problems.

I was wrong.

If only you could sustain this

Compared to what you’re usually like, the approach to your anomaly was tantalizing.

But you know better than anyone what we had to endure to get there—

—hours and hours on your flatter-than-a-discarded-Visit-Nebraska!-tourist-pamphlet, egregiously mischaracterized “scenic” highway.

Yes, Scotts Bluff is nice. Striking even.

But did you see the word I used back there? Anomaly. Your one decent natural feature is singular departure from your true self. An exception, a deviation, an aberration.

But wait, I just know you’re pleading, beseechingly, what about my gloriously quirky Carhenge?

Do you seriously want to go there? Really? Fine.

Yes, Carhenge is all it was cracked up to be. Unique, off-the-wall, and just plain fun. Kudos to you.


And it was an enjoyable visit.

All 20 minutes of it.

Sundara Spa and Sedona be damned. This is your one stop shop for energy healing and chakra rejuvenation . . .

But even if we overlook the fact that between Scotts Bluff and Carhenge, and indeed throughout your interminable 77,000 square miles, there is nothing but this . . .

And you’re the home of Arbor Day? You know arbor means tree, right?

. . . it’s just not enough. I need more.

And let’s face it, you don’t have more to give.

But while I’d give anything to say an irrevocable goodbye and walk away for good, I know that won’t happen.  I can never truly quit you the way I want to.  You stand inexorably between me and my true love, Colorado, and as such—and though it vexes me to say so—we will run into each other from time to time, whether we want to or not. So let’s agree to be civil—I will if you will—and instead of good riddance, I’ll say, resignedly, see ya around.

—The Travel Architect

56 thoughts

  1. Whenever we travel through Nebraska on our way south for the winter, I feel like I’m “home”. Born and raised on the flat prairies of Southeast Saskatchewan, Canada … the Nebraska landscape is comfortable and familiar. If I was to break up with any place, it would be anywhere that has mountains. Although the mountains are unquestionably beautiful to visit and to drive through, I get positively claustrophobic until we see flatter land again. Isn’t it great that we’re all experience our travels differently? This was a fun post to read this morning. 😊

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  2. But, hey. If you’re in need of a U-Haul truck, Nebraska’s got one!

    There’s another small area, just south of Chadron, that’s pretty scenic. But like Scottsbluff, it’s over much too quickly.

    At least stop at a Runza next time. That’ll give you a glimmer of something to look forward to.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, Carhenge looks super cool indeed. Almost gives me Mad Max vibes for some reason. Again, it’s so cool that you’re bringing these landscapes to me, because even if I were to visit the US, I probably wouldn’t head to Nebraska. So yeah, it looks pretty awesome to my eyes! 😛

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  4. As a born and bred Nebraskan who now lives elsewhere, I think you’ve missed the best parts of the state. Unfortunately you’ve pretty much stayed in the Platte River Valley which is very flat and in general long and boring. If you actually explore the state it has a lot to offer but as they like to say now “Nebraska, it’s not for everyone.”


  5. the break up letter to the state of Nebraska just made my entire day. So perfectly said about this state that driving through makes me feel like I’ve lost years off my life. Carhenge looks like the shining point of interest in miles and miles of corn.

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  6. I visited Nebraska once and hiked for a morning near a fire lookout tower. It was beautiful and pastoral past the trees, out on the sand hills. I don’t think I could live there though.

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      1. Having been to Stonehenge and feeling the incredible positive energy there, to see Carhenge, that to me is a monstrosity, seems trite. Kind of pathetic in its attempt to get attention… for what I’d say is nothing.

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  7. Oh my word this made me lolllll. Brilliant. I can’t stop laughing at Carhenge, what an idea! Something tells me I won’t put Nebraska high on the list for my next US trip. I live somewhere totally flat with ‘boring’ scenery but at least it’s only 1.5hrs from side to side and there’s loadssss of historical cities, towns, houses, beaches and pretty cottages to look at on the way.

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    1. Thank you – that makes my day! True, there are flat, scenically boring places in England (as well as where I live in the US), but your country is filled with so much history! The drive from London up to the husband’s hometown is never very scenic, but once I get there I know I’ll be steeped in all those things you mentioned.

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  8. Love the meditation photo at Carhenge! But as much as I’d like to see it, your post confirms the reason I’ve not wanted to do the drive. I’ve driven through Nebraska or Kansas many times, straight across, on my way back east (I’m originally from the east coast), and that’s about all I need, thank you! Enjoyed your sarcasm. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This post is timely! We just made our first trip to South Dakota (from TN), and wanted to return home a different route from which we came. Scott’s Bluff was actually the Nebraska destination we picked, so we drove south from Custer State Park. Scott’s Bluff was interesting, however what we happened upon en route was so much cooler! I noticed something called “Toadstool formation” on the Atlas, located down a nice (fun) dirt road inside Oglala National Grassland. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping for a hike! There is also a nice, cheap campground with clean vault toilets and excellent cell service. It was one of the most fun surprises of our trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh, Marsi. It’s been ages! I thought you left the blogosphere forever! Yes, the Toadstool Geologic Park was a “maybe” on our list for that return trip home. Unfortunately, it was too far out of the way. One of these days we’ll head straight to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, via South Dakota and then I think it might be within reach. And if you liked that place, try Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. Super cool. Here’s one of my posts that talks/shows about it. Thanks for reading and commenting! Good to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I loved Goblin Valley! That Capitol Reef/San Raphael Swell region in Utah is so underrated (and happily less unknown and less crowded). I haven’t explored much of the badlands area beyond Factory Butte, but have that on my list for next time we’re in the area.

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