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Midwest Adventures #1

I am here. I have been here for two days. Here is Ames, Iowa, in a furnished rental condo formerly occupied by the previous publisher of the local newspaper, the Tribune. Starting tomorrow morning, I am the publisher of the local newspaper.

It took three days to get here from Las Vegas. I drove, obviously. A direct flight is all of three hours. I drove because I need my car and my stuff. All told, including a few minor detours, I traveled 1,645 miles. I took the so-called Southern Route, traversing Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. I did this because my wife was concerned that I might get caught in a dangerous snowstorm in Colorado. Definitely possible this time of year. In any case, I didn’t mind taking the Southern Route, because I’d been on the Northern Route twice in the past few years. Wanted to see something different.

The driving was pretty easy. I enjoyed the use of cruise control much of the time. I made it to Albuquerque the first day — 588 miles. On the second day, I decided to cut a hundred miles or so from my trip by leaving Interstate 40 and instead taking U.S. 54 northeast from Tucumcari. It was two lanes instead of four, and therefore slower going. I had to slow down to 45 through the many farm towns. The driving wasn’t bad, but the scenery was not impressive. I expected more charming small towns, along the lines of classic Route 66, but that’s not what U.S. 54 offers. It was amazingly flat and boring terrain through northeastern New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and western Kansas. The towns were ugly, with no evidence of any efforts to make them aesthetically engaging. Texas and Oklahoma, in particular, were forgettable, and western Kansas wasn’t much better. Not an area of the country I would want to live in.

Things got a little more interesting once I reached Pratt, Kansas. Pratt is an attractive town. The natural terrain also became more varied and interesting once I passed Pratt and cruised in to Wichita, where I stayed the second night. From Wichita to Kansas City, you take toll roads — the Kansas Turnpike system. I ended up paying $8.25 for the privilege, but it was great. The highways were in good shape, and they weren’t busy. Every so often, there is a “service area” along the highway, with a convenience store, gas station and fast-food restaurant. It’s only for motorists on the toll road. I got to KC very quickly. Then pressed on to Ames, arriving in the early evening.

I have spent the past two days unpacking my stuff, putting it in place and buying things I need. I’ve been to Target, Walmart, Kmart, the Hy-Vee supermarket and a few other places to get what I need. I’m all set, I think.

I miss my family. This does not surprise me. I have never lived on my own, really, and only a few times have I been apart from my wife and kids for more than a few days. But I know they are coming to visit in a couple of weeks, and I know they will be moving here with me in late July. I gotta believe I will visit them in Las Vegas sometime in May or June. That will be a long stretch by myself if I don’t.

I traveled to Des Moines today. I checked out the big mall on the west side of the city, and visited three different bookstores (two Barnes and Nobles and a big used place, Half Price Books). The mall is very nice. My wife and younger daughter will like it.

I start work tomorrow, and I know this will be an all-encompassing experience, especially for the first few weeks. It’s a big job, encompassing not only the daily newspaper but a dozen other publications (weeklies and shoppers) in the area as well. There are challenges to deal with right away.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Michael Green
    April 3, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    All of us who are already missing you around here are going to enjoy reading your adventures.

  2. Mark Sedenquist
    April 3, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    Spent a couple of hours thinking about the direction of the WSN today and what needs to be done without you at the helm. Glad the trip went smoothly — this is a nice time of the year to be on the road.

  3. April 4, 2011 at 5:50 AM

    Glad you got there safely, dude. Looking forward to your take on things as the chief executive of the paper.

  4. suzanne scott
    April 9, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    Hearing that you were moving to Ames, Iowa cleared up the confusion from your comment at the Claiborne panel. Our city’s loss is Aimes’ gain.

    Glad to read you arrived in one piece and are settling in. July will be here in no time.

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