Edited to add: This is part of a series. The Vacation 2016 story begins here.
Not too much on the books for this day:
Sept 4Sunday drive to kara, stay 9-4. Quality Inn & Suites Council Bluffs, IA (2 suites with 2 dbles and sofa each).Stop in Mitchell to see Corn Palace (north on Burr st from hotel, then Left on 6th st.)I-90 East to Sioux Falls.Stop in Sioux Falls to see the falls Park: go past I-29 and exit #399 for 115/Cliff Ave. Go south past all the restaurants. Just past river, turn right on Rice/Weber, then right on Falls Park dr or turn into park from Weber. Back to route: East on Weber/Rice to I-229; South/West to I-29 South.I-29 South to Council bluff; exit 54A, as map. Left on Ave G, R on N 35th St, R on Broadway, Near immediate Left into hotel.See K. What does K like? Old Market; Riverside parks; childrens museum open 1-5, $12 each, Fontenelle forest $9.50 per adult $7.50 per child (2-17), zoo open to 5, expensive; Gene Leahy pedestrian mall - a park; shopping mall, bowling????
We did see the corn palace, and it was appropriately corny. This was a "thing" for Bob and I because when we were overseas we occasionally watched the Armed Forces Network, which had sort of public service announcements instead of commercials, and a frequently repeating ad featured the Corn Palace as a unique feature of South Dakota.
We didn't stop in Sioux Falls.
K is Taryn's friend from England. She chose a mall in Council Bluffs as a meeting place. The mall was kind of a dump. We had lunch together at a nearby Burger King and then walked and visited. There was a playspace and a clearance outlet for Dillard's (I think it was Dillard's). We bought a few things. K had to go to a wedding, so couldn't stay long, and to be honest the reunion was a bit of a letdown for Taryn.
When that was over, I got to thinking. We really didn't have any reason to hang out in Council Bluffs all evening, and we still had 45 minutes to cancel our hotel without being charged, and there were plenty of hotels in Kansas City. So I started calling the hotel to cancel. With less than 24 hours notice, I had to call directly - not the chain; not Hotels.com. It was easy enough to find the number, but when I dialed it, all I got was a busy signal. Over and over.
It was a 15 minute drive in the wrong direction to go to the hotel. I called and Bob drove. When we got there, a sign was posted on the door that the pool was closed. So it would have been super boring to stay. I went in and cancelled, and then mentioned the phone must not be working. She picked up the receiver and had a dial tone. I verified the number with her, dialed it in front of her, and let her hear the busy signal. Huh. I think I'm glad we didn't stay there.
We drove on down to Kansas City, where I had booked us a Days Inn. With a couple of positive experiences with the chain, I felt confident enough to book without extensive research and comparisons. Boy, was I wrong! That place was poorly managed to say the least. I've left reviews on Hotels.com and other places; no need to try to repeat that here.
For more introspection: as we turned south from South Dakota, it occurred to me that I was following in Laura's footsteps (more or less) as she moved to Missouri. That was almost cool for a second, but then I thought, "I hope it didn't break her heart to leave." Immediately followed by, "Of course it did! She loved it there." Not to mention her family that she left behind. Then I wondered why it was so important to me that a "fictional" character should have a happy ending. And that, of course, leads one to the whole point of fiction - hope. And I came to the conclusion that I really don't have much hope in this life. No one is going to rescue me. No one even understands me. I'm not ever going to be rich or famous or beautiful. I do have plenty of love, and generally I'm not unhappy. But when it comes to hope... My hope is in a future with my Lord. My true joy must come from keeping that hope alive, not from false promises of a good time.
So that stuff simmered in my mind for a while, until I condensed it into a life motto: Life is hard, but it's short, so keep your chin up. Not just "chin up" as in "be tough", but as in "look up for your redemption is near."