Pearl Jam / National Park Road Trip: Part Two - by Kevin Montavon

Pearl Jam / National Park Road Trip: Part Two.    (Click here for part one)

Any good road trip requires some night-driving. As an avowed road hog, I learned a long time ago that you can put some serious miles behind you by driving at night, and keeping pace with the trucks. 

With that in mind, this trip began at 9 pm in Columbus, and by 8:30 am we were having breakfast in Omaha, Nebraska. After that it was an all-day slog through Nebraska. I have been reading about the Lincoln Highway (US Route 30), which was the first cross-country highway in the United States.  The stretch across the center of Nebraska is particularly historical, and since it pretty much runs right next to the busy Interstate 80, we decided to spend our day with a leisurely drive through the heartland of America. 

The soundtrack to any long drive can greatly enhance the experience, and I am known as a guy who can pick a song for any occasion, and today was no exception. Beginning with the Counting Crows "Omaha," and continuing with the entirety of Bruce Springsteen's album Nebraska, followed by music from other Heartland heroes like John Mellencamp and Bob Seger, we rocked the day away as I drove West. 

A road sign sign in the middle of the state directed us to the site of The Plum Creek Massacre, in which 11 homesteaders travelling along the Oregon Trail were attacked and killed, and two, a woman and child, were kidnapped by hostile Cheyenne warriors. You can read more about that here: []. We were virtually alone at this off-the-main-drag location, providing a quiet moment for reflection on the difficulties and challenges that early pioneers faced in the push to settle this land. It also was not lost on me that we had travelled in just a few hours what pioneers took months to traverse. It's a lot easier from the inside of an air-conditioned automobile, that's for sure.

Late in the night, we rolled into a rest area near Casper, Wyoming, where I kicked the seat back and took a snooze for a few hours. Tomorrow's destination is Yellowstone National Park, via The Beartooth Pass. Another long day of driving lies ahead, but the landscape is a wonderland. 

"Go west young man." - Horace Greely

"The West is the best" - Jim Morrison

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.