I often struggle to find words to describe the (now annual) Good Living Tour storytelling trip that don’t beg for some kind of sympathy: sweaty, stressful, hectic, challenging. Squeeze seven journalists into a Chevy Tahoe for two weeks, sandwiched between open laptops, luggage, and each other, tangled in phone-charger cords, camera gear and garbage sacks. Take five minutes to empty the vehicle each bathroom break, then another five to load it back up.
After multiple, uncomfortable hours in-transit, finally, shake hands with a spirited interview subject, catch a breathtaking stretch of Sandhills highway, or set up shop in a beautiful, air-conditioned, historic auditorium, and the whining subsides. This isn’t about you, a voice creeps in, not to chastise, but to remind that Nebraska has so much to offer, that each of its towns, inhabitants, dive bars and railroad tracks has a story. All you have to do is listen.
Instead of all those negative adjectives, how about: “rewarding.”
This past trip, which spanned the two weeks between June 6-18, was my second of this nature, and I must say how grateful I am (though the second picture below might scream otherwise). I’m thankful to have had such hard-working, creative, supportive compatriots, even when, at various times, weariness seemed to win out. I’m honored to have been so well received by people who had no obligation to feed strangers or house seven unruly, cranky travelers or sit indoors for an hour-long interview during their summer vacation. I’m thankful that such a “work trip” is even possible, as if palling around with six close friends for two weeks, standing shirtless in the Harlan County Reservoir or shooting pool at a dive in Venango between video shoots qualified as work.
Most of all, I’m grateful for the opportunity to tell the musical stories of Ord, Kearney, Grand Island, Red Cloud, Hastings, Norfolk, Lyons, O’Neill, Grand, Sidney, Imperial and McCook. They begin rolling out one week from today. I hope you’ll check them out.
In the meantime, here are some choice shots of our crew from two weeks on the road. Thanks to Gabi, Lindsey, Jacob, Andrew, Andy, Bridget and Dinan. And thanks to Humanities Nebraska for sponsoring this component of the GLT project, to Huber Chevrolet/Cadillac for our vehicle, and to Matthew Hansen for serving as our humanities scholar/editorial advisor.
Week One crew | June 5, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Blasting off | June 6, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
The Fox Theater | Sidney, Neb. | June 6, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Dinan gets the shot, just outside Sidney | June 5, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Nebraska sunset, just outside Sidney | 6.5.16 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Della’s Cafe, Sidney | June 6, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Gabriella, somewhere on Hwy 23 | June 6, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Dinan, Imperial, Neb | June 7, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Imperial Repbulican publisher Russ Pankonin explains the paper’s printing press | June 8, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Water tower, Grant, Neb. | June 8, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Gabriella interviews Meadowlark Gallery’s DeeAnn Tatum, Grant | June 8, 2016 | photo by Lindsey Yoneda
Middle of Nowhere Bar, Venango, Neb. | June 8, 2016 | photo by Lindsey Yoneda
Venango, Neb | June 8, 2016 | photo by Lindsey Yoneda
Thunderstorm, Imperial, Neb | June 8, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
A family plays baseball in McCook, Neb. | June 9, 2016 | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Comedian Andy Offutt-Irwin performs at Sehnert’s Bakery for the Buffalo Commons Festival Opening Reception, McCook, Neb. | June 9, 2016 | photo by Lindsey Yoneda
Riverton, Neb | June 11, 2016 | photo by Lindsey Yoneda
Working inside and outside Art Bar, Hastings, Neb. | June 13, 2016 | photo by Andrew Dickinson
Stellmon interviews The Listening Room’s Robin Harrell, Hastings, Neb. | June 13, 2016 | photo by Andrew Dickinson
Wave Pizza Co., Grand Island, Neb. | June 14, 2016 | photo by Andrew Dickinson
Gabriella, O’Neill, Neb. | June 16, 2016 | photo by Andrew Dickinson
Dickinson gets the shot, Andy assists, Ord, Neb. | June 17, 2016 | photo by anonymous
Week two crew, O’Neill, Neb | June 17, 2016
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The 2016 Good Living Tour is presented by Nebraska Department of Economic Development, and made possible by Peter Kiewit Foundation, Center for Rural Affairs, Pinnacle Bank, Nebraska Loves Public Schools,Union Pacific Railroad and dozens of community sponsors. The tour’s carbon footprint is being 100% offset by NE Renewable Energy Credits donated by Sandhills Energy.