Back in May, I had one of the weirdest weeks of my entire life. Going in one day from 45C in Mexico to 45F in Albuquerque, a GIANT PINK SNAKE, a doppelganger, rain, snow, sleet, hail, and sunshine all in one day in one place, a creepily large number of unusual ravens, and a long-lost older brother, all in less than a week.

It was fucking wild.

Then the Universe decided to go from weird to just plain mean.

Both the door zippers on my tent failed the exact same day while I was in California.

I don’t even want to discuss the Airbnb disaster that happened after Caz and I left Reid and Allie’s that wound us up in a hotel room.

Gypsy suddenly blew not one, but two coolant hoses and an oil cooler gasket while I was in a canyon in Idaho, and parts had to be shipped in from hundreds of kilometers away in opposite directions.

Not to be outdone, Nebraska said, “Hold my beer.”


I’d allotted my remaining time from Colorado to Washington DaCity in increments of six hour driving days interspersed with a few days rest at various locations along the way. Nebraska was next up, and the last of the lower 48 U.S. states for me to visit in my lifetime. (I’d been to Oklahoma in 2014 and Wisconsin in 1985, but obviously not with Gypsy, so we have those two left to visit together. I don’t know if she’s ever been to either before I bought her.)


I had a campsite picked out from the map, but when I arrived, the “Wildlife Management Area” turned out to be some dude’s cornfield. I tried another WMA, not too far away. It was someone’s house. Then another, another cornfield. WTF, Nebraska?

I finally picked out a local dam and reservoir, also not too far away. I turned off the main road onto a gravel road. The gravel road became a very rough gravel road. The very rough gravel road became a dirt road. The dirt road became two tire tracks in high grass.

The two tire tracks in high grass eventually ended at an open gate.

…beyond which was a wall of corn.

Also at the gate of the wall of corn was a fella in a mini SUV with news channel markings on it. He looked as lost as I felt. I asked if he were also looking for the campsite off, and though he said he wasn’t, he was looking for a story at the dam I was trying to find. That was something, at least. We picked out a route together to go around the county to get to the dam.

He got there just ahead of me.

The sheriff’s deputy got there right behind me.

That story the news dude was hunting down?

Two local fishermen had fallen in the water and drowned at the dam a couple days before. Some kids had found the first body right where I was going to camp. I shit you not.

I drove two hours east and camped elsewhere.

Nebraska Campsite

The new site was beautiful, but beside a lake of stagnant water. That created two problems for me. The first was a cloud of mosquitoes so thick I could cut it with a knife. The second was the cloud of steam inside my tent the next morning so thick I couldn’t see the top of the tent, though it was dripping condensate on me.


Nebraska, you were pretty, but I hope you’ll forgive me for not staying a second night. I drove six hours to Illinois, to a campsite I stayed at two years ago, beautiful, right on the Mississippi.

At some point one might think to oneself, “My luck has to change after a goddamned dead body, right?”

If one thinks that, one does not understand statistics.

Pavement Ends in Illinois