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Change of Scenery

My name is Olivia Cunning and I live in Southcentral Nebraska. I suppose I don't really need a twelve-step program to admit where I live, but it can't hurt.

I'm a transplant. I moved here for a job over five years ago. I don't regret it (nice, nice people live here and I have a great, secure job), but let's just say the "scenery" leaves a lot to be desired.
This is typical scenery in my area. F. L. A. T. Corn. Corn. More corn. The occasional soybean. A cow or two. If you like sky, we've got plenty of that. If you like hail, thunderstorms and tornadoes, come on over. Wind? 35 MPH is the norm. Doesn't that mean snow drifts? Oh yeah, baby. All winter long.

Speaking of winter, here's my typical snowy view. Isn't it pretty? Maybe for the first few days. Or weeks. But after three straight months of nothing but the snow-covered, flat ground (meaning drifts sometimes get up to the top of my porch railing there), no, it's not. It's not pretty. It's trecherous. They don't clean snow off our residential streets, which means they are so ice-packed by the end of winter from folks trying to drive on them that the NHL could hold practice sessions out there.

Sometimes, I think I will go bonkers if I didn't see something other than Nebraska. See something beside corn or worse, the empty cornfields in winter--talk about depressing. The monotony starts to get to you after a while. Sure I take a trip to Missouri every few months to visit the parental units, but Northeastern Missouri isn't the most scenic place in the country either. It's very hilly instead of F. L. A. T. and has more trees, but it's also mostly corn and soybeans and a cow or two. Should I mention that I'm NOT a farm girl? I'm an army brat. I've lived all over the country and even in Europe. These half-horse towns are not my norm. I don't think I'll ever adapt.

So what's a girl who loves mountains and beaches, but who lives in Nebraska (land of corn), to do with herself? That's right. ROAD TRIP!

Year before last, we went here. I'm sure everyone recognizes this place in western South Dakota. The Black Hills are quite lovely.

While on this trip, we discovered this place in northern Nebraska. HOLY TOLEDO, is that a waterfall? Who'd've thunk? Of course, once you've seen a "real" waterfall in someplace like the Cascades of Washington state, this little thing will make you yawwwwwn. But it beats the heck out of staring at corn!

Last year we took a trip through Wyoming (including Yellowstone), Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. Here are a few of my favorite shots from that trip.

An alpine lake in July. Ooooooooo!

The Grand Tetons. Ahhhhhhh!

Old Faithful. Heck, yeah! (No, I do NOT know that Keepin' the Peace guy. He was in my shot!)

A REAL waterfall? SQUEEEEE! (See that log across the middle? Those little specks on the log are people!)

Rocky Mountain National Park. So high above sea level. Can't. Breathe. But I do so love mountains! Oh my! How gorgeous!

This year, we went to Las Vegas, Long Beach, CA and Orlando/Cocoa Beach, FL. Yes, my sandals have been in both Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean sand this year. BLISS!

I love the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas!
Look! Palm trees and freakin' sand and the Pacific ocean waves crashing behind me. Woo hoo!

I don't know about the rest of you, but sometimes I just need a change of scenery. While I was uploading all these pictures, I got to thinking. Is this why I write about a touring rock band in my Sinners on Tour series? So that my heroes can see the country and don't have to stare at corn for months and months at a time? Maybe. But it's probably because I have a "thing" for musicians. *fans overheated self

So have you taken any scenic trips lately, or do you have plans to take one soon? What are some of the most scenic places you've been or would like to go? Or maybe you have gorgeous scenery right outside your front door. Tell us about it and make me jealous! You know what I'm really after, don't you? I need ideas for next year's get-me-the-heck-out-of-Nebraska!!! trip.


  1. I'm off to see my son in Pensacola before he's in training for a year at the AF navigator school. And a trip to Scotland after that, if I can swing it!

  2. I was stuck for a plot this summer, drove from DC to San Diego and back and lo, we're good to go. I like the changing seasons, and where I live (rural MD) is lovely--but then, I like cows and cornfields. Is there a trilogy out there involving Nebraska farm boys?

  3. I'm originally from eastern NC, where the land is flat, but not, I think, the same kind of flat as Nebraska. At any rate, while it doesn't have the drama of the mountains, or the gentle contours of the piedmont, I think it has it's own beauty. I love wide, blackwater rivers and swamps, which it has in abundance.

    But I understand what you mean about needing a change of scenery. One of the nicest things about NC (particularly the piedmont where I live now) is the variety of scenery. A couple of hours' trip in any direction will produce a different landscape, whether of mountains or coast, BIG cities or charming little towns.

  4. Terry, I hope you can go to Scotland! I've never been there, but the photos I've seen are lovely!

    Grace- You drove from DC to San Diego? I thought my drive from Nebraska to Orlando was extreme! If there is a trilogy about Nebraska farmboys, I think I'll pass. I read to escape!

    Mary Margret- It would be wonderful to live in an area so close to so much scenery. We've got the flatness for two hundred miles in ALL directions. The closest mountains are 7 hours. Beach? Um... I'm not sure. 20 hours probably.

  5. Having grown up on a very hilly farm in Kentucky, I always thought I'd like flat country better. Not so sure now...

  6. Great post! You are giving me itchy feet!

    I have been to some of those places you mention and there are several others I long to see.

    I know what you mean, Olivia. I am a homebody and like having my base where I can reside comfortably for perhaps the rest of my life. But I love to get away and see new sights. We live in the F.L.A.T. central valley of CA with LOTS of corn, cotton, and cows. However, we also have the High Sierra Nevadas a stone throw away - you can easily see their snow-capped peaks from my house - and the beach 2 hours the other direction. Plus we have loads of orchards, so that adds to the diversity. Nevertheless, I can feel your pain to a degree.

  7. Totally know what you mean about needing a change of scenery! Luckily I live close enough to downtown Chicago that it's a quick train ride and a ton of places to go and festivals to attend (especially in the summer). But then, one thing I love about reading books is you can travel without having to fly or drive :-) Fun post--great pictures!

  8. Didn't do much traveling this year--conference in Orlando and quick sidetrip to Michigan to visit family. Right now that snow looks pretty good, but I grew up in Michigan and I know how depressing long winters can be.

  9. I did a lot of traveling this summer, drove through 11 states but it was not the kind of traveling I wanted to do. I would love to go back to see the mountains. I'm thinking of a long weekend trip to Idaho (since I have a SouthWest Airlines voucher that needs to be used.) That's a trip I'd love to take.

  10. Hmmm, quite of few of those shots look familiar since we did that same Yellowstone/Black Hills/Grand Tetons trip this year.

    Traveling truly is the spice of life! (And I hear it's good on corn.)

  11. I feel for you, living in the flatlands! Cheyenne is pretty flat, too, but we're closer to the mountains (and we have cowboys insgtead of farm boys). One of my favorite road trip stops, though, is Strang, Nebraska on Highway 81. My husband thinks this is hysterical, because it's basically a few battered houses and a junkyard- but something about it intrigues me and I've taken great photos there (I like wrecked cars). I swear I'm going to set a story there someday.

  12. Cheryl- I saw Kentucky for the first time this year. It was dark, so I didn't get to see much. And there was a pick-up truck on fire on the side of the road. Far more exciting than corn!

    Sharon- Thanks for the warning. Don't move to central CA to escape the flat. check

    Danielle- I think that's why I write so much. It's kind of like reading for escape. And I do enjoy the scenery I create!

    Shana- I've never been to Michigan. Anything interesting to see there?

    Robin- Idaho has some lovely places. I tend to drive through Idaho going to other destination, but what I've seen of it is suprisingly scenic. I got so lost in Idaho Falls once. (Yeah, it IS possible. he he.)

    Judi- It's a great trip to take. I wish we could have taken an extra day to see Yellowstone, but we had an important rock concert to get to in Salt Lake!

    Joanne- I can honestly say I've never been to Strang. If you add an "e" to the end of that town you get ________? Heh heh! I like Cheyenne. Stayed there on my way to Yellowstone.

  13. I love Glacier Natinal Park. I can't think of a better antedote to flat cornfileds than the Rocky Mountains!

  14. I live in the desert, Olivia, so all that green growing stuff looks great to me! I loved your vaca pics too. Thanks for sharing!


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