Fields, cattle and corn — oh my!


Written by Summer Nichols

Nebraska: The Good Life. Well, at least that’s what was advertised when I drove by the state sign. The average picture of Nebraska revolves around the idea that there is probably more livestock than residents and that its primary function is to be a flyover state. With this in mind, one can assume it’s not a prime summer vacation spot for a teenager and her family, but when my parents told me to start packing my bags, I had to put my hesitancy and doubts aside. One plane ride and a three hour drive later, I found myself quite literally in the middle of nowhere. 

Though not being a very popular state, Nebraska has many defining qualities. Along with being known for its farming and agricultural production, it also serves as the place where my dad transitioned from a child to an adolescent. In fact, the primary reason for taking the trip was so that he could share his childhood experience with my mom and me. With his motive in mind, I tried to be supportive, but everything looked so empty and abandoned. 

Outside the car window, an endless stretch of cornfields and country roads flew by. There were no vehicles, a scarcity of people and nothing else that could be affiliated with my familiar urban atmosphere. I found myself wondering how we were going to occupy 24 hours in a place where the only thing to do was watch grazing cows or bake in the heat. 

However, it turned out that those 24 hours provided just enough time to drive to Minitare, Scottsbluff and Melbeta. We explored the roads where my dad and his friends would bike after school, and we discovered the trees that he laboriously tended to as one of his childhood chores. We looked at his old schools, my mom stopping us at every corner to take pictures. 

We even rode by my dad’s old job at a local gas station, a place where sneaking 3 Musketeers candy bars and using chemicals to freeze them apparently did not warrant any trouble. By the time I finished a meal from a restaurant that had been in Nebraska for generations, my perspective had changed drastically. 

What was originally a barren country road became an element of a beautiful western landscape. The boring livestock and cornfields developed into something to marvel at. I realized that Nebraska had a sense of community and preservation that certain urban areas at home tend to lack. It was refreshing to see that in a world that’s constantly changing, there were some places that stayed exactly the same. 

However, the most gratifying part of the trip was neither the unique landscape nor the lifestyle, but rather the opportunity to connect with my dad. He was able to show me a part of his life – and a part of himself – that I originally couldn’t fully appreciate. I started to recognize how much pride and joy he took in showing me Nebraska, and I realized that had I not gone, I would have missed the opportunity to strengthen our bond as father and daughter. 

Almost a year later, the trip is still something I hold close to my heart. If my doubts and hesitancy would have taken priority, I would have missed out on a valuable experience. I started to realize that many individuals, including myself, have a tendency to avoid or dislike anything that strays from the usual and expected. To combat this habit, try to keep an open mind to new opportunities. Seize the chance to embark on an adventure, and remember that unfamiliar experiences are just changes of perspective waiting to happen.