Sunday, June 14, 2009

Road Trip 2009: Day Four

Saturday, June 13th - We woke up with a start this morning. Or rather, Kat jumping up and saying, "Get up! We didn't set an alarm last night!" And she was right. We hadn't. And it was already 10:47am. Luckily, checkout wasn't until noon, but we did miss the continental breakfast by the poolside that I had been looking forward to.

On the road again, we traveled 15 miles south to the town of Riverside, IA, the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk. This had been one of the first locations I wanted to visit when we were still in the planning stages for this trip. But alas, I didn't know what to expect or see. As we pulled off the highway, we were immediately greeted by the Riverside town sign, with the greeting, "Where the Best Begins," but interestingly, the "Best" had been crossed out and replaced with the word "Trek." To burn the moment in all of our minds, Arp used his Samsung smart phone to play the theme from "Star Trek: The Original Series."

A moment of pure geekdom.

The town itself was relatively small. So small, in fact, that we almost missed a small business called "The Voyage Home." Half the store was dedicated to "Star Trek" and the 25th anniversary of Trek Fest and the other half to the history of the town, including the shooting in the town of the short reality miniseries called "Invasion Iowa," starring William Shatner. I will admit I'm a little bummed that we'll be missing Trek Fest, as it's actually occurring in just two weekends (Trek Fest occurs the last Saturday of every June in Riverside.) This year, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and Nichelle Nichols are all attending, which sounds awesome. For next year, they're hoping to coax Leonard Nimoy and Chris Pine (the actor portraying James Kirk in the current JJ Abrams' film) into joining Trek Fest.

Outside the store was a shuttlecraft lovingly built out of wood, plastic, paper, and old computer parts. It sat on a trailer, to be transported at a moment's notice to wherever it is needed, much like the store's larger Enterprise model, which was sadly away at a parade this afternoon.

The store itself is a collection of Star Trek goodies, past and present, including posters, comic books, action figures, toys, books, movies, etc. Also available are a number of souvenirs, most related to Trek Fest, but also a couple to "Invasion Iowa" and of course, Riverside itself. I couldn't help but revel at many of the items, especially the photos and props from "Invasion Iowa." Let me tell you. "Invasion Iowa" is a great series that I hope soon makes its way to DVD. Basically, William Shatner goes to Riverside, IA to "shoot" a short science fiction film. Of course, what they're shooting isn't for real, and it's the making of this fake movie that is the show. Through Shatner's actions, we meet the inhabitants of Riverside, and it ends up being extremely touching. He recruits many of them for the movie itself, as either cast or crew, and in the end, when he reveals the show's true intentions, he presents everyone involved with items or cash to help them as thanks for their time. It was a beautiful thing by the end of it all.

So I got to see a number of great props from the show, as well as some incredible candids. The women there were extremely friendly, and pointed us in the direction of where to find the ACTUAL future birthplace of James T. Kirk, just up the street. We drove, parked, and found it without too much trouble, nestled behind a salon and a store called Vintageville. It was a rather large stone, denoting the words, "Future Birthplace of Captain James T Kirk, March 22, 2228." Interestingly, I didn't realize that the date is also the birth date of William Shatner. Huh.

We then went into Vintageville and met the very nice woman running the store who had lived in Riverside for eight years after moving there with her husband. We looked through the store, and after departing, made our way to Murphy's Pub, a local bar which also partakes in the Trek craze by hanging up a huge poster which reads, "Future Home of Shipyard Bar in 2258." Those who saw the new "Star Trek" film will know what this refers to.

With content hearts and full bellies, we hit the road again, our final destination to be North Sioux City, South Dakota. But we had other plans before setting off in that direction. Namely: Omaha. And just why might we want to go to Omaha, Nebraska? One word: steak.

We traveled the full extent of Iowa, stopping a number of times for locations found via

The first was a giant cow in Iowa City.

The second was a bank that Bonnie and Clyde robbed back in 1934 in Stuart.

The third was a water tower painted completely in yellow with a smiley face in Adair.

And the fourth was a VW bug converted into a huge steel spider in Avoca. These were all very cool and certainly helped break up the monotony of the drives. Kat even went as far as to make her own "IOWA" board similar to that of a "BINGO" board with names of different cities we were hoping to find. Unfortunately, she never did get "IOWA" by the time we reached Nebraska.

Oh,and we also stopped in Des Moines hoping to see the first bar that Slipknot (heavy metal band that originated in Des Moines) had played at when they formed back in the mid-90s. The name of the venue was the Safari Club back then, and a few years after was renamed Hairy Mairys. We searched for it under that name, only to discover that it had been changed yet again a few years ago and was now called the Dublin Bar. Unfortunately, it was no longer a place to hear new rock and punk music like it had been before. Now, it was simply another Irish pub. Oh well.

So Des Moines didn't quite live up to what I had been expecting, but that was all about to turnaround with our trip to Omaha. Our restaurant of choice? The Omaha Chophouse. We had an incredibly nice waiter, ordered a lovely bottle of Merlot, and each enjoyed a choice Omaha steak.

Kat and I each had a NY strip and Arp had a porterhouse. It was an incredibly tasty meal, as you would expect from a company that produces steaks and ships them around the world.

From there, we had another 100 miles to drive through the dead of night to North Sioux City, where we finally reached our final destination at a Country Inn and Suites. And when I say dead of night, I mean it, as there were times on the highway when there were absolutely NO lights. Nothing on the horizon. Nothing on the road other than us. No moon. No stars. Nothing. We are definitely not in Jersey anymore.

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