|While planning to go to ConQuesT 36, the big science
fiction convention in Kansas City, my wife had the idea of combining the
trip with a little vacation. We would take Zack, our youngest, with us
to the convention, and then afterwards travel to my sister-in-law's house
near Omaha, Nebraska. From there, Zack and I could travel west to see Mt.
Rushmore and the Black Hills while she stayed behind and visited. I lived
with my family in the Black Hills for six months when I was in the sixth
grade, and had not been back in years. It sounded like fun.
The three of us left Broken Arrow early Friday morning, May 27, 2005. We took Highway 169 out of Tulsa and straight north into Kansas. The highway took us halfway across Kansas until we met up with Interstate 35 at Olethe. From there, we took Interstate 435 to the north side of Kansas City. I knew to not follow Interstate 29 through the city because the Paseo Bridge over the Missouri River was under construction. It was 268 miles from our house to the convention hotel, located north of town near the international airport.
The convention was fun. Science fiction legend Joe Haldeman was the guest of honor. I was on several panels, served as master of ceremonies for the costume contest, and hosted a room party. I got to see a bunch of old buddies, do a little dancing, and make some new friends. The convention ran from that Friday through Sunday.
||My wife left for Omaha Sunday afternoon,
May 29. Zack and I stayed until closing ceremonies, and after saying
goodbye to people hit the road for Omaha. The hotel was right off Interstate
29, so we just got on the highway and headed north. Our destination
wasn't Omaha but the town of Papillion, just outside of Omaha. That's where
my sister-in-law lived.
Zack and I took Interstate 29 north into Iowa, and then exited at the Bellevue exit. We took the toll bridge over the Missouri River ($1) and cut across to Papillion. The people of Papillion don't pronounce their town's name "PAP-e-on," like the French pronunciation, but rather say it "pa-PILL-e-on." (The high school football team? That would be the Monarchs.) That's where we were spending the night.
We'd traveled 170 miles from Kansas City, and 476 miles from Broken Arrow. Our journey was just beginning.