Too Many Long Boxes!
   
    THIS ISSUE:
  • Table of Contents
  • Bottle City of Candor
  • Letter Column
  • The Elongated and Winding Road
  • Midway City
  • Vlatava: Jewel of the Valley
  • Off The Road
  • Something of a Stretch
  • Comic Book Movies
  • Never Discuss Politics
  • Elastic Wars
  • Dixonverse Annual
  • Farewell to Dannell
  • Trivia Quiz
  • Art Challenge
  • Writing Challenge Results
  • Musee de Bivolo
  • Long Stretch
  • The Evil Stepmother's Manifesto
  • Burning Over
  • The Case Of The Really Dead Waiter
  • Half Empty Bowl, Half Full, Part 3
  • Echoes
  • Deconstruction of a Tragedy
  • Oracle's Files
  • From the Bookshelf
  • The Mount
  • If I Ran DC
  • Scattershot
  • Back Cover
  • Best of Fandom Award
  • Farewell


  • End of Summer
     

    Off The Road

    by Mathew D. Rhys

    A guide to Blue Valley and Waymore, Nebraska

    Last summer I was commissioned by an entirely different magazine to take a road tour up and down the Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri rivers and chronicle the history and growth of the Blues. Most of the cities on that tour are well known for their impact on the Blues (New Orleans, St. Roch, Memphis, Kansas City, Keystone, Chicago...), but often forgotten is Omaha, Nebraska. I was a bit apprehensive about venturing to Nebraska, truth be told; but in the cradle of the Missouri River, I found a lush land of forests where the soul of my beloved Blues still beats strongly. Greeted by such a sensation and considering my contributions to his fine publication, I chose to deviate from my previous path and pay visit to Blue Valley and Waymore.

    Blue Valley, former home of Wally West (the Flash), is northwest of Omaha. A gorgeous drive through the deeply wooded Ponca State Park is the quickest way to get there. As you crest the last hill leading into town, its name becomes obvious-- the whole valley seems covered in a faint, blue haze, a phenomenon referred to in a local Native-American legend about blue, lizard-like monsters.

    On a normal day, Blue Valley is a rather sleepy town of factory workers and farmers. I had the good fortune, however, to come during the annual Summer Festival, the finest music and arts festival in the state. Here musicians, artists, and artisans from across Nebraska, as well as the surrounding states, gather to showcase their wares. Although it began as a small affair in the late sixties, the festival now draws more than 10,000 visitors yearly; and fills not only the county fairgrounds, but Blue Valley City Park and the Sapphire Auditorium as well.

    The Blue Valley Drama Guild holds first class performances at their playhouse, not only during the festival, but all summer long. I was able to catch a simply wonderful production of The Odd Couple, and I must recommend the guild to anyone visiting Blue Valley.

    Even when the Summer Festival is not in full swing, Blue Valley's beautiful surroundings make it a popular location for artists, and its many antique shops are a popular stop in that ever growing market. Blue Valley is also home to Brown Furs, and Purdue Furs, both fifth-generation family businesses.

    Other attractions in Blue Valley include the youth-oriented dance club The Inferno and the Blue valley Museum of Antiquities. The museum has an excellent display of Native American artifacts, both from the region and from across the country. It also houses the sarcophagus of the infamous Pharaoh Rama-Skeet and an abnormally large, simian skull from some obviously extinct breed of gorilla, which was brought to the museum by Buck Wargo.

    The best hotel in town is the family owned (if poorly named) Driftwood Inn. A unique blend of hotel and Bed and Breakfast, I can easily give it three and one-half of five stars. If you're partial to a pastry breakfast, try Carlin's Bakery. The Luncheonette is a fifties café in the best tradition, with good burgers, fine malts and milkshakes, and a thirty-five cent, bottomless coffee.

    From the lush Blue Valley, I made my way south and west to Waymore. Waymore sits on the north side of I-80, Nebraska's primary thoroughfare. It location makes it a great resting point along that long stretch, but would likely have no name recognition outside of its famous son, Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man. This fact alone brings an amount of tourism to Waymore, a thing that is grievously needed these days. Unlike the ever fertile Blue Valley, Waymore's many growers have been hard hit by the drought of the past two years, making tourism an important source of income for the town.

    Waymore is home to Grange Hall, a spacious convention center and auditorium that has served as the home of the Nebraska Doll Society's annual convention for the last forty years. Waymore Mayor Ken Dibny, the Elongated Man's older brother, has been at work trying to utilize the hall to aid the town's economy. This work includes talks of hosting any number of large conventions to attract tourists and businesses.

    At present, though, Waymore's primary pull to travelers remains its proximity to I-80. The town possesses a beautiful park, which is within walking distance of all of the town's various eateries. Jak's Burgers is good and not over priced. Mom-and-pop-shop Sam 'n' Ella's Café is not too big on cleanliness, but their slogan is 100% true, the Pork Chop is King.

    Stagger Inn is the town's sole tavern. The walls are littered with pictures and news clippings heralding town highlights, from the high school football career of Mayor Dibny, to Elongated Man's induction into the Justice League, to the MacPherson's seven-legged calf.

    The most surprising thing I found in Waymore was Lisa's Place. Located down the street from Stagger Inn, this esoteric, but popular, coffee house is truly a rare thing to find in rural Nebraska. A frequent after school hangout, it also caters to the late-night crowd with poetry readings, live acoustic music, and even has room set aside for local and visiting artists to set up easels and work.

    It was with a surprisingly heavy heart that I left Waymore, and Nebraska, behind me; but the Spirit of the River and the soul of the Blues called me onward. I will go back there someday, though. Maybe I'll meet you there.

    The highly odd Mathew D Rhys is an obsessive storyteller and family man whose wife graciously allows him to prattle aimlessly, and gives him no end of joy in life. He hopes to one day write comics his son can read. You can read his original character fiction at dreamerpress.cjb.net.

     
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    This piece is © 2003 by Mathew D. Rhys
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