If anyone had told me twelve years ago that I would voluntarily visit Lincoln, Nebraska this weekend, I would have told them they were nuts.
F@#)*^g nuts, to be more precise.
Twelve years ago. That is the last (and only) time I have been in Lincoln.
That visit was not by choice.
In 1998, we traveled to California to bring my oldest son to college. We had virtually no money at the time. Because we knew that our car would likely not get us to and from California, we decided we had to purchase a different vehicle.
Not a new one. A different one.
It was a minivan, bigger, shinier, newer than our previous vehicle. We felt quite proud of our purchase, and were very excited about the trip. We planned to combine the trip with a family vacation.
We made it to the rest stop just before Lincoln. The vehicle would not go any further.
This was before cell phones. We had to call a taxi. We had to find a car dealer/repair shop. We had to find a hotel. All from a pay phone at a rest stop. With three teenagers, a very angry husband, and in 90 degree heat.
While waiting for a new engine to be installed in the minivan (which ironically had to be shipped from Minneapolis-where our trip had started), we spent three days in Lincoln, Nebraska.
We learned about the unicameral legislature. We toured the capitol.
We found the worst Chinese restaurant that I have ever eaten in, then or now. We visited the Lincoln Zoo.
We found a go-kart track where the kids and Merle went around that track many times. We swam in the hotel swimming pool. We watched a lot of cable television (we did not have cable at home).
I spent a lot of time on the telephone negotiating with the dealer. We spent an equal amount of time trying to figure out how to pay for the car repairs as well as the extra expenses of staying in a hotel for three days.
We watched Merle stress out for three days about how everything would work. He just couldn’t see the humor of our situation!
Things did finally work out.
The dealer agreed to pay for a large share of the repairs even though the limited “warranty” had technically expired. My father-in-law agreed to help us out with a loan. The engine was delivered, installed and we were able to continue our trip. Although we missed a few of the sights we had hoped to see along the way, we got our son to school before classes began.
It is one of our favorite family stories. We can laugh about it now.
But we were all quite thrilled to see Lincoln, Nebraska in the rearview mirror, and it would be safe to say that none of us ever planned to return. We’d never go back. Never.
Now daughter and s-i-l to be have moved from Eugene Oregon to….you guessed it….Lincoln Nebraska. He has a job there, a great job. They have been there about 3 weeks now. Daughter has also found a good job. They know not one soul there.
So, we are heading down to visit this weekend.
It is safe to say that we will be very careful as we drive past that exit. And, we won’t be eating at the Chinese restaurant.