Pearl Jam Road Trip Part 11: The End - by Kevin Montavon

(Click here for previous Pearl Jam Road Trip)

The crowing Rooster woke me in North Central Nebraska. The Rooster said it was time to head home.

After 16 days on the road, our adventures were winding down. We had a leisurely day planned for our last full day away from home, planning to see a few historical sites and take our time heading East. The primary destination for this day was Homestead National Monument of America. 

Homestead National Monument is located near the town of Beatrice (pronunced Be-AT-ris), Nebraska, about an hour south of Lincoln. It memorializes the Homestead Act, enacted by the United States Government to encourage settlement in the West. Free land was given away with the stipulation that the land would be "homesteaded"...worked, developed, and farmed. The site exists as a memorial and a tribute to those hardscrabble adventurers and dreamers who paved the way to the West for the rest of us.

We began the day in Lincoln with lunch and beers at Nebraska's oldest brew pub. The University District was relatively quiet and relaxed for a Saturday. We were one week early for the college football season,  but as residents of a Big Ten college town ourselves, we knew the place would be hopping in a week's time. After our repast we drove South to Homestead and spent the afternoon walking through the meadows and pathways, and checking out the preserved dwellings there. We then drove on to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where we met an old friend of mine for dinner and more beers (you might have noticed through the course of this series that we enjoy a good brewski). Our intention then was to drive through the night, arriving home in Ohio in the early morning. 

But we woke up at a rest area on I-80 in eastern Iowa at around the time we had planned to be home. I had dozed off immediately after hitting the road, and Heather had grown drowzy as well so she had pulled in for a few Z's and slept through the night. We were under no pressure to be home at that time, but now we had a much lengthier stretch still to travel. 

Making the most of our now 8-hour delay, we pulled off the highway again in West Branch, Iowa to visit the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, which preserves the birthplace, childhood neighborhood, and resting place of The 31st President of The United States, as well as being the location of his Presidential Library and Museum. We were about an hour early for the opening of the visitor center, so we strolled around the quiet streets and drove to the Presidential gravesite. We got back to the center just as they were unlocking the doors and stamped our last cancellations for the trip.

8 hours later we were back home in Ohio. 7,219 miles, $565.55 in gasoline costs, 12 National Park sites visited, 9 hours of Rock And Roll and 97 songs later, we were finally home and sleeping in our own bed. Another adventure in the books, and a liftetime of memories made. And of course, I am already making plans for The Great American Roadtrip 2019.

Always remember one thing. The journey IS the destination.

Kevin Montavon has visited National Parks in the 48 lower states and attended over 1,500 concerts before beginning this road trip. He also sings in the band Plow Horse.