Welcome to nowhere.

Over the last ten years or so, Cristi and I have driven across the state of Iowa approximately 117 times. With a few years in the beautiful city of Madison, Wisconsin and a few more years in Chicago, interstate 35 and 80 have served their purpose as high-speed paths to our families in Missouri and Kansas.

Like any route repeatedly traveled, there are specific places along the road that can comfort a weary couple. A pristine lake tucked between some pine trees on 35. The Brass Armadillo Antique Mall just off the highway in Des Moines. Any one of the incredible number of tacky billboards beckoning for your dollar. But sometimes there are surprises.

The other day when I pulled off the road for gas and a rest room, I discovered a sign I’d never seen before. “Entrance” it read in gigantic letters along with an arrow, I followed an old asphalt drive to a long abandoned gas station and diner. The Toyota’s tank was empty and my bladder was full, but it was it immediately clear that I couldn’t take care of either problem at that particular spot. Instead I took a picture and reminded myself that we were on a road trip — even if the road itself was one I’d seen many times before.

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