I decided to take a quick roadtrip through the Midwest this summer – the middle of the Midwest, the part where no one goes for vacation! I drove across northern Iowa, then down its Western border, and continued following the Missouri River through its namesake state all the way down to its mouth in St. Louis. I popped in to South Dakota and Nebraska, but Kansas offered too much traffic for me to brave. You don’t think of traffic when you think of Kansas, do you?
This wasn’t just a whim; I had destinations in mind. When conceiving of the trip, those sites seemed disjunct, just a mix of places and things that I might be interested in. As I traveled, though, the pattern became obvious. I drove through cornfields to find prairies, through a modern metropolis to find an ancient civilization. I was exploring the beginnings of the American West, the conquering of wilderness, the root of our national psyche. There in the cornbelt, surrounded by the simple life, I found myself feeling that I was on the cusp of great excitement. In the middle of nowhere, at the edge of everything. Maybe Iowa should adopt that as its new motto.