The Essential Literary Library

A complete list of books I have read and found worth my time.

The following is an extensive list of books, poems, and songs that I have read and found to be worth my time. The lists are in no particular order and are not placed by merit. I have separated the list into several categories: Influential Non-Fiction, Informative Non-Fiction, Valuable Fiction, Creative Fiction, and Songs & Poems. The list is a living document and will be updated as I continue to read. There are currently 152 books, short stories, poems, and songs on my list.

Influential Non-Fiction (18)
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
  • The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
  • Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
  • Not a Fan by Kyle IdlemanWalden_Thoreau
  • Echoes of Eden by Jerram Barrs
  • Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas
  • Republic by Plato
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
  • Infantry Attacks by Irwin Rommel
  • Areopagitica by John Milton
  • The Golden Sayings of Epictetus by Epictetus
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  • Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Spiritual Laws by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • In the Presence of Mine Enemies by Howard Rutledge
  • The Bible
Informative Non-Fiction (12)
  • The Histories by Herodotus
Sappho by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Sappho by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
  • The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
  • The Lives of the Caesars by Suetonius
  • Cicero by Anthony Everitt
  • A History of the Vikings by Gwyn Jones
  • History of England by David Hume
  • Scotland: The Story of a Nation by Magnus Magnusson
  • For the Common Defense by Allan R. Millet and Peter Maslowski
  • Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose
  • Yanks by John S.D. Eisenhower
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
  • Growing Organic Vegetables & Herbs for Market by Keith Stewart
Valuable Fiction (70)
  • That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
  • Malacandra by C.S. Lewis
  • Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  • Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treador by C.S. Lewis
  • The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  • The Magicians Nephew by C.S. Lewis
  • The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Beowulf translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
  • The Illiad by Homer
  • The Aeneid by Virgil
4x5 original
The Arrival of Aeneas in Carthage
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe
  • The Antiquary by Sir Walter Scott
  • The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason
  • Deerslayer by James Fenimoore Cooper
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
  • Post Captain by Patrick O’Brian
  • H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian
  • Desolation Island by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Fortune of War by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Surgeon’s Mate by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian
  • Treason’s Harbour by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Far Side of the World by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Reverse of the Medal by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Letter of Marque by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Thirteen-Gun Salute by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Truelove by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Wine-Dark Sea by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Commodore by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Yellow Admiral by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Hundred Days by Patrick O’Brian
  • Blue at the Mizzen by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Creative Fiction (37)
  • Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice BurroughsTarzan_of_the_Apes
  • The Son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Tarzan at the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  • Waverly by Sir Walter Scott
  • Nine Princes of Amber by Roger Zelzany
  • The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelzany
  • Sign of the Unicorn by Roger Zelzany
  • The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelzany
  • The Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelzany
  • The Trumps of Doom by Roger Zelzany
  • Blood of Amber by Roger Zelzany
  • Sign of Chaos by Roger Zelzany
  • Knight of Shadows by Roger Zelzany
  • Prince of Chaos by Roger Zelzany
  • The Frost-Giant’s Daughter by Robert E. Howard
  • The Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard
  • Queen of the Black Coast by Robert E. Howard
  • Black Colossus by Robert E. Howard
  • Iron Shadows in the Moonlight by Robert E. Howard
  • Roverandum by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Patriot Games by Tom Clancy
  • Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy
  • Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
  • The House on the Cliff by Franklin W. Dixon
  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Poems & Songs (15)
  • If by Rudyard Kipling
  • To A Mouse by Robert Burns
  • The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Scotland_Forever!

  • Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • I Sing the Body Electric by Walt Whitman
  • Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen
  • After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost
  • The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
  • The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
  • The Castle Indolence by James Thomson
  • Invictus by William Ernest Henley
  • Scotland the Brave
  • O Fortuna: Carmina Burena by Carl Off

Fishing for Sockeye in Resurrection Bay

As a preface, I feel that I must inform my readers that up until this past June, my experience fishing has been confined to a few attempts to catching perch in a pond around the age of ten. The move to Alaska has prompted me to try a few new activities and fishing is one of them.

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My second fishing trip to Resurrection Bay proved a little more successful but paled compared to the more seasoned fishers who pulled in as many six sockeye in one day.

I was lucky enough to go with a friend who had acquired some knowledge of the practice and had much more experience. He was happy to pass on his knowledge and even shared some of his equipment with me.

As with any other skill or hobby, fishing is a broad subject that encompasses an almost limitless scope of subtopics and methods. My experience is restricted to Sockeye Salmon fishing in Seward, Alaska using the technique of snagging. Snagging involves attempting to catch the hook into any part of the fish as it is swimming in or out with the tide. This must be done with enough force to pierce the flesh of the fish and then draw it in to shore. There is no bait involved and this methodology relies almost entirely upon the skill, luck, and activity of the fisher.

The equipment used for this type of fishing consists of a fishing pole, line, leader, and hook. After the catch a stringer, club, cooler, and fillet kit are also highly recommended. A pair of decent waders is also vital and gives the fisher freedom to cross streams or move out deeper into the bay at will. The fishing pole should be rated medium-heavy so that it is strong enough to pull the hook quickly across the water. I was extraordinarily unsuccessful the first time I went Sockeye fishing when I used a lighter pole. The line should be rated for 30 to 40 pounds, double braided, and about 100 yards in length. The leader, from my understanding, can be either 12 or 18 inches but based on the rules of the locality in which we fished the 18 inch leader was required for snagging. The hook was three pronged and large with a weight at the center; this type of hook is known as a weighted treble hook.

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The weighted treble hook.

These listed items are the essentials required to snag sockeye and a few extra spares of most of the items is not a bad idea (I lost one treble hook and broke another during the course of the afternoon).

The process of snagging sockeye is extraordinarily repetitive, it involves casting your line and reeling in quickly at a pace of over six times per minute. The primary method of snagging involves throwing your line out with either a sidearm motion or over the shoulder. The hook hits the water and then you quickly reel in your line. Every third rotation you hank hard on the line pulling it across the water, using your body to get the hook to move with speed across the water. The hook should not skim surface of the water but pull just above the bottom where most of the sockeye can be found. This takes some practice and I am far from perfect but as I stood on the shore of Resurrection Bay I found myself watching the seasoned Alaskan fishers and tried to emulate their movement as much as possible.

There was an alternative technique that I witnessed in the bay that the more successful fishers employed and I attempted to copy. Consequently, this was when I caught my sockeye. The technique is referred to as the Kenai Flip. The Kenai Flip is accomplished by casting your line but a short distance. Instead of reeling in the line simply let the hook sink for a second then yank it swiftly through the water. The free hand pulls part of the line in and the hand holding the pole completes a circular motion pulling the hook out of the water and then immediately casting again. The action is accomplished quickly and completed at a rate of 15 to 20 times per minute.

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Casting the line and reeling in takes some practice but is a skill that can be picked up quickly.

I assume I witnessed more success with this technique because the more frequent casts give the fisher a greater number of opportunities for success. Additionally, it seemed to be easier to pull the line in with velocity. The trade off of this method is that it can be exhausting to perform over an extended period.

Once the sockeye is snagged on the line the fisher is required to reel in the line quickly and simultaneously back up. The salmon will vigorously attempt to free itself so the more quickly one gains the shore the greater the chances of success. The sockeye will flip and flop about on the shore and is extraordinarily slippery so killing it can be difficult for the experienced and inexperienced alike. The miniature acts of violence that occur periodically along the rocky Alaskan shore can be an amusing spectacle to the bored and less fortunate fishers standing around. A small plastic club picked up from any outdoor recreation department for a few dollars is the best at putting the fish to rest but a hardy rock or a solid kick has proved somewhat successful too. Once the salmon ceases moving, the stringer is used to keep the fish on a rope tied to your belt. This allows the salmon to stay fresh and dangle off the rope in the water. It also acts as a sort of badge along the shoreline, the successful and seasoned fishers often have upwards of five salmon in tow as they move up and down the shore.

In addition to the possibility of catching well over $300 of fresh healthy meat in one day, several other benefits of fishing in Resurrection Bay become readily apparent. Resurrection Bay is one of the most scenic places in the southern portion of Alaska. Mountains can be seen on three sides, while on the fourth side the bay opens to the Pacific Ocean. A visitor is likely to see over three bald eagles per visit either landed along the shore or circling in the sky. On one lucky occasion, I witnessed the spout of some species of whale shoot up from Resurrection Bay several times. A careful and patient observer might see the head of an otter or seal pop out amidst the waves. The evolution of the shore as the tide goes in and out over the course of several hours is also interesting to witness. Based on my casual observation the tide subtly changes through the days and weeks slowly transforming the shore. To be honest fishing is not my favorite pastime but it is an activity that I will continue to pursue during my time in Alaska because I can catch valuable meat, learn a valuable skill, and enjoy the beautiful Alaskan coast.

Alaska Arrival

After three nights in Canada, driving through British Colombia and the Yukon, my wife and I crossed the border into Alaska. There was little environmental difference between the Yukon and Alaska initially but over time we drove into mountains that we had only viewed from a distance.

For several hours, the road wound through the Alaskan wilderness passing some small rural residencies and often offering spectacular views of sweeping forests of black fir, mountains, and rivers. DSCN1117The road seemed to buckle and rippled, I assume due to some kind of effect of the cold and ice. This slowed our progress significantly when we passed through these stretches. Driving too quickly over these areas would stress the suspension of our car or potentially cause the car to go airborne and then bottom out. Flirting with mechanical issues in this part of the world is quite foolish so we slowed down and enjoyed the view, stopping frequently to take pictures.

The first significant town that we drove through in Alaska was Tok which acts as a junction, the northern road leading to Fairbanks and the southern road leading farther west to Anchorage. Our destination being Anchorage, Tok was the farthest north we went in our journey. Travel by road is simple in Alaska, there are not many choices. We stopped to eat in this small town at a restaurant called Fast Eddies which was recommended to us by the owner of the lodge we had stayed at the previous night in Haines Junction, Yukon. Several of the locals arrived shortly after us dressed in their Sunday church attire, a surreal reminder to my wife and I that it was Easter Sunday. We still had plenty of day left when we arrived in Tok so we decided to complete the rest of our journey to Anchorage, Alaska.

The drive from Tok to Anchorage proved to be one of the most scenic legs of our extensive trip. DSCN1121Driving up the side of a mountain offered a fantastic view of a pine wooded valley that stretched for many miles. In the distance, several snowy mountain peaks rose to heights that clearly dwarfed anything we had yet witnessed along the way. We stopped at several pull-offs to take pictures. On one of these stops two bald eagles circled in the clear sky roughly a hundred yards away. We also saw a group of about 10 caribou crossing the road, we had to slow down as they seemed puzzled at the passing of cars along their road. The mountains never disappeared in the 6-hour journey from Tok to Anchorage and we were quite close before signs of the port city became evident.

I am not sure what Anchorage is like during the summer but it is not impressive in April when old snow from a long winter still lingers and slowly melts and turns everything to mud. The vehicles are covered in dust, gravel, and sand. City life is not the appeal of Alaska and what Anchorage lacks in this arena it makes up for in hiking trails, camping, kayaking, skiing, hunting, and climbing. For those who enjoy the wilderness, there is no end of activities.

After just under 6,000 miles of driving in the period between March 21 to April 16, 2017 we had arrived at our final destination. We couldn’t have been more thankful to God for blessing us with the opportunity to travel, and the prayers of friends and families who petitioned for our protection.

Traveling Through Canada

After spending a brief evening in Seattle where we ate at a good Thai restaurant we crossed the border into Canada through Sumas, Washington. The customs officials were polite and professional but convinced that I was carrying a weapon because I had Texas plates. This was the first time that I was ever called a “Texan” and growing up a New York “Yankee” I found this a little insulting. Once our car was searched, and it was confirmed that not all people coming from Texas carry a gun, we were permitted to cross the border.

The drizzle and cloud cover continued on for the third day in a row, what was charming in Oregon and Seattle was irritating in South Western Canada. The low clouds restricted most of the view as we drove through a valley and looked upon the grey roots of what must have been spectacular mountains. Farther north the drizzle turned into a steady snow, which restricted travel speed but never grew threatening. The snow from the winter had now melted away and the fresh April snow began a new cover. This we drove out of to our relief. Despite traveling farther north, we left the bad weather behind us for the rest of the journey. We stopped at Burns Lake, British Colombia the first night and Dease Lake, British Colombia the second. There were plenty of small towns along the road, perhaps every half an hour, and the gas tank rarely fell below three quarters of a tank. The mountains largely disappeared and where replaced by rolling hills, pine forests, and some farmland.

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After our first night in Canada we woke up to a fresh coat of snow on the ground outside our motel. 

On the second morning in Canada we crossed the border into Yukon, this was an exciting moment for us because it acted as a benchmark for how far north we had driven. The day was clear and sunny and after a time we began to near some significant mountain ranges to our left which acted as a barrier to the Canadian Pacific coastline.

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Some of Canada’s spectacular mountains.

I noted that there were very few if any roads through those mountains capable of reaching the coast on the map. In general we left civilization behind but there was still the small town here and there. We also drove through Whitehorse which is the capitol of the Yukon and is essentially a town that has some facilities normally attributed to a city, such as an airport. Originally we planned to stop in Whitehorse but the journey had been easy and we also observed a remarkable difference in daylight hours this far north. The sun did not set until well after 8 o’clock so we could extend the miles we covered easily. We pushed onward to a lodge just north of Haines Junction.

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The lakes were still frozen when we traveled through the Yukon in April. 

The lodge was a neat little place with a great view of the mountains. The owner informed us that a crew from BBC had just finished staying in the lodge which they used as a starting point to go out and film for a new Planet Earth series. The lodge was very pleasant and definitely built for the more socially minded, the owner informed us that usually his American customers did not understand the perks of his lodge and were generally rude. We enjoyed our stay there and would return again if we pass through Haines Junction again.

On the third morning in Canada we drove a few more hours through the Yukon looking upon snow-capped mountain after snow-capped mountain. After several hours we crossed the border into Alaska, finally nearing the end of our journey.

The Redwoods and the Emerald Coast

The primary reason for visiting the California coast before trekking north was to see the Giant Sequoias in the Jedidiah Smith Redwood State Park. Only about 15 minutes from Crescent City, California it was a short drive in the morning to the state park. There was a steady light rain and complete cloud cover for the duration of the day. We ran into initial trouble finding trails to walk through the forest but after consulting one of the employees at the information center we set out in the right direction. We drove along a dirt road full of puddles and pot holes for about 15 minutes and then hiked along Boy Scout Trail which promised many of the giant trees. Part of the trail was closed due to a downed tree but the first mile and a half was open. Along the trail on either side the massive trees could be seen, touched, and admired.

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One of the Giant Sequoias

We walked for about an hour through the forest, silent and dripping from the rain. A mist settled in the higher canopy of the evergreens and moss clung to the bark and branches of the smaller trees.

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Walking along Boy Scout Trail

It was worth visiting this forest out of season because it seemed that we had the entire forest to ourselves. We took our time along the trail and only covered about three miles but we soon had to hit the road because we had another part of our journey to look forward to that afternoon.

When we discussed some of our travel plans with a relative they highly recommended taking route 101 along the Oregon Coast as we traveled north. The scenic view followed the Pacific shore offering views of the cliffs, rocks, dunes, and beaches found along the way.

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The sand dunes along the Oregon Coast

The route also went through a handful of coastal towns with quaint restaurants and many cottages. The cool rain we experienced in the redwoods continued in the afternoon was cool but this did not detract from the view, in fact, the rain and mist seemed fitting for the Oregon Coast. There were plenty of places to pull off and take pictures along the route. We stopped to climb on massive sand dunes that could be found for a good stretch along the shore. We also stopped at Cannon Beach, famous for its use in the classic movie The Goonies.

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Canon Beach

Every turn in the road seemed to offer a new scene of evergreens, cliffs, and ocean. We drove for about 350 miles up the coast, we could have spent two or three more weeks along this part of the drive just to take in everything that the Emerald Coast has to offer.

Farther West

The second part of our journey took us through Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and finally California. This part of the passage took two days, one of which my wife and I drove for 900 miles on route 80. The views were spectacular and worth the agonizing hours stuck in the car. Traveling through these states mid-April offers a unique change in temperature, habitat, and scenery in just a short period of time. In Nebraska we experienced a sunny mild day, in Wyoming we ran into wind gust over 50 mph and light snow only to have it clear up to a sunny day again. The terrain changed from vast flat lands to dominant snow covered mountains. These changes became fun to observe throughout the journey.

Utah is one of the prettiest and varied states in the U.S. The northern part of the state offers extensive mountains and salt flats. We also witnessed the reemergence of trees which had disappeared at some point in Wyoming. From Coalvile to Salt Lake City the views are fantastic.

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Driving through a rural town in Utah

The mountains still had snow on them but the grass in the valleys was green and some of the deciduous trees just beginning to bud. The evergreens where far greater in number and covered many of the slopes that were very obviously used for skiing and snowboarding. After Salt Lake City we passed The Great Salt Lake and then the salt flats that stretch for more than a hundred miles.

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Another part of Utah

The mountains on almost all sides were ever looming in the far distance. Knowing that Utah shares a border with Arizona in the south including part of The Grand Canyon, I know that Utah has much more to offer and I would love to return and explore a little more.

The other notable region of our trip was California and Oregon. Our route took us from California, north into part of Oregon, and then back south into California once more on route 199. In California we watched as the barren mountains of the Sierra Nevada turned from brown to green. Our road brought us up amidst snowy peaks and we were soon surrounded by pines with snow still heavy on the ground. Reservoirs passed occasionally by, one of which was still partially covered in ice.

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Mount Shasta

In other parts of the mountains the snow had melted leaving fields of scattered pines and marshland. When we passed into Oregon we stayed in the mountains but the vegetation changed significantly and became more broad-leafed. The snow was completely left behind and spring dominated southern Oregon. Daffodils could be viewed along with budding and leaves on the trees. Turning southward for California again we began a rather precipitous decent. Eventually we found ourselves winding slowly through a mossy pine forest with a blue-green river to the side of the route. The trees grew taller and wider until we saw some of the redwoods so famous for their enormous height and girth. The forest had a mysterious appeal to it, being dark green and mossy as if its sylvan depths hid some enchantment within. We hope to explore the redwoods in greater detail in the near future.

The final chapter to this part of our journey came with our arrival in Crescent City, California a coastal town where we hoped to find a good view of the Pacific Ocean. We were not disappointed and explored the rocky beach in the town, climbing on the black rocks, watching the waves crash upon them, and investigating the various shore plants scattered about at low tide.

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The Pacific shore in Crescent City, California

I felt a sense of accomplishment and completion looking out on the Pacific Ocean after driving so many miles from Bennington, Vermont to Crescent City, California and for the first time saw the sun set on an ocean.

The Midwest

This article covers two days of travelling between central upstate New York and Ogallala, Nebraska. My thoughts are brief because they summarize roughly 22 hours of insignificant highway travel. Between New York and Nebraska my wife and I passed through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa from east to west. The first four of states the kept continual toll fees that totaled roughly $25 along the way.

On the first day of travel a light rain turned into sleet and snow as we moved west across New York. Between Rochester and Buffalo enough snow had fallen in the night and morning to accumulate to about 4 inches and covered the ground and trees. The snow didn’t pose a threat to our travels, seeming to melt as quickly as it fell, so we pushed westward.

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Snow in western New York (April 2017)

In Pennsylvania the rain and snow cleared up and we had sun for the rest of the day.

As we traveled along route 90, we had a steady dose of rolling hills and farmland. Just before driving into Cleveland we got a look at Lake Erie’s rocky shore with the interspersion of industrial docks. In western Ohio we began to witness flat terrain and large farms. From my observation western Ohio was more flat than most of Indiana which had more rolling hills. Little changed through Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.

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Somewhere in Iowa

We passed through Omaha, Nebraska a dirty city that seemed to be undergoing significant construction on both the roads and the facilities.

Driving west along route 80, the terrain became once more significantly flat and the trees more sparse, though far from absent from the landscape. Paralleling the highway, perhaps a half-mile distance, curious small hills dominated the horizon. The hills had no vegetation aside from a low brown-green grass. In many ways the scenery in western Nebraska reminded me of west Texas before entering the Chihuahua Desert.
Although clearly a productive and important piece of the United States, the Heartland has little to offer the traveler aside from a place to sleep and eat while passing through.