Yes, you read that right - I am off to Nebraska for the holidays! My husband grew up in a small town of 1,600 in rural Nebraska. We are spending the holidays with my new in-laws. (I have scheduled some posts for next week in case you are desperate for a Cranky Pumpkin fix.)
Today, we fly to Omaha. Earlier this year, there was a direct flight between Los Angles and Omaha. And this is fabulous because who wants to make a connection, especially during the holiday travel season? But, alas, the airline cancelled the direct flight (AAARGGHH) so we will be flying to Omaha via Dallas. Take a look at a U.S. map - you will note that the path from L.A. to Omaha via Dallas is not exactly a direct route. In fact, some would say it is an extremely indirect route. Oh well, such is life.
At Eppley Airfield, aka the Omaha airport, I will watch for our baggage while Nathan secures the rental car. Then, we have to walk outside to get the car, and this will be the coldest walk of my life. Holy crap, just thinking about the walk makes me shiver. I went to college in middle-of-nowhere-New Hampshire, and I took some long, cold walks across the campus at 3 a.m. in February because that is what stupid dumbass college students do. But the walk from the baggage claim area to the rental car lot at the Omaha airport is colder.
Then, we will drive into Nebraska because the Omaha airport is actually in Iowa. (Duh). We will drive to my mother-in-law's house in an Omaha suburb and spend the next twenty-one hours at her place, eating cookies, opening presents, eating more cookies, and eating a Christmas Eve holiday lunch.
In my family, we always celebrate Christmas Eve with my Aunt Berta's lasagna. Let me tell you about Aunt Berta's lasagna: it's amazing. There's also a pink frothy jello casserole thing which should be terrible but is hauntingly delicious. So, I should spend Christmas Eve pining for the traditional food I grew up with, but fortunately, my mother-in-law is an excellent cook. She makes a dumpling dish that I think about all year. Dumplings for lasagna is a fair trade.
After we are fortified with dumplings and handed bags of cookies, we will depart for rural Nebraska. It's a 3 hour drive from Omaha to my husband's hometown, but we will make various detours for holiday celebrations - there's Christmas Eve dinner with the paternal grandparents in one town; Christmas Day lunch with the maternal grandparents in another town; and then we will finally drive to Nathan's hometown.
Are you still reading? If so, here are some photos of rural Nebraska that I took while we were driving through the countryside during December 2009. The photos might be a little blurry, because I took them while Nathan was driving. There's no "parking the car and admiring the view and considering the best angle for your photograph" in Nebraska in December. The car is warm; the air outside is snot-freezing cold. You take what photos you can from the moving vehicle, and you hope that a few are okay.
With that said, this is what the drive in December from Omaha to Small Town, Nebraska looks like: