Tag Archive: The Walking Dead

Terminus & Gateway

Terminus & Gateway#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 18
(For links to previous segments, scroll to the bottom)

We leave Omaha behind, crossing the Missouri River into Council Bluffs, Iowa, where we’re tracking down a giant railroad spike. Map App Sally is completely unreliable at this point, having sent us to the Omaha Zoo over and over again and calling it a different landmark each time, but now she’s getting worse: Terminus & GatewayShe’s developing an attitude. Warnings pop up on my phone that it’s dangerously hot and I need to shut down immediately or else, so I do and set it down on the air vent by my feet. Now I’m navigating the old fashioned way with my eyes and a map while Brent uses his chill, un-snarky phone.Terminus & Gateway

We find the 56-foot yellow spike easily, but we’re pretty confused about where we are. Council Bluffs is nowhere near Promontory Summit, Utah, where we learned as kids the Union and Central Pacific railroads were joined together. The wide, grassy expanse around the spike is deserted, and the railroad tracks behind it don’t seem to be connected to anything, giving this place an awesome and quiet creepiness. Terminus & GatewayIt’s also convenient for lounging in the sunshine on the tracks while we take it all in and puzzle it out—until Brent and his camera turn on me. (I need to take that camera away from him.)Terminus & Gateway

I return to the spike, Brent and camera in tow, and we push our faces as far as we can between the fence rails around the base in order to read the signage there. All it says is something about the “Eastern Terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad.”Terminus & Gateway

Terminus!” Brent and I extract our faces from the fence and look at each other in horror. Fans of The Walking Dead understand our terror at this veritable end of the line as we look for Rick and Daryl to be in a jam and for Carol to start blowing things up. When none of that happens, we instead do zombie imitations in the yard around the spike. Then we run for it, straight into the cornfield beside the Jetta, and do our best man-and-woman-with-pitchfork (American Gothic by artist Grant Wood) faces.Terminus & Gateway

We hightail it away from Terminus, and I find that my phone is still too hot to handle. Meltdown seems imminent as Brent drives us toward a bridge and insists I take pictures of it through the moon roof because he’s too busy driving to do everything. I insist I’m busy, but he doesn’t listen. He gives me his camera and I think, “Heh, heh, heh,” but after a little more protest (sheesh, I’m turning into Sally), I do as I’m directed, snapping pictures of the red and yellow spikes on the Broadway Viaduct as one of us says, “Are you getting this?!?” while the other one says, “Slow down! I got it!”

Terminus & GatewaySafely across the Viaduct, I can now figure out what the heck just happened. According to the Googs on Brent’s cool phone, the artwork on the bridge is called the Council Bluffs Gateway, designed by artist Ed Carpenter who worked for four years with the installation team getting the red and yellow 111 light poles tilted into place. Nighttime images of the Gateway are even more stunning.Terminus & Gateway

Next, I read some golden railroad spike history and find that there’s a controversy over whether the rails were joined at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869 or at Comanche Crossing near Strasburg, Colorado on August 15, 1870. As for the spike at Council Bluffs, Iowa, the Googs says it’s possibly a relic from the movie Union Pacific commemorating the eastern Mile Marker Zero.

A movie relic?? Despite being tricked (Terminus strikes again!), we continue our eastern drive full of pride to think about our country’s unification by the railroad line, wherever/whenever it may have happened officially. Our transcontinental railroad allowed for the expansion of ideas, business partnerships far and wide, massive distribution of foods, and travel and exploration across this great land of ours.

As for our own exploration, Brent and I are hunting down a Volkswagen spider…

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

(For previous Stories from the Road, click here: Segment 17Segment 16, Segment 15, Segment 14, Segment 13, Segment 12Segment 11Segment 10, Segment 9, Segment 8Segment 7, Segment 6, Segment 5, Segment 4, Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 1)


I went to a farewell barbeque yesterday for some friends who are moving to Arizona. Over the past couple of years, they’ve had many gatherings at their house where I’ve been able to get to know them as well as their friends over crab dip, popcorn salad, s’mores cake, absinthe, and a Super Bowl blackout where we watched Portlandia.

Yesterday, our discussion was on movies, and we landed on Love Actually. Each of us—the men included–love the movie for different reasons and for different characters. One loves Colin Firth and follows all his films. Another likes Hugh Grant’s story line as the Prime Minister because Grant is great at playing the fool. Personally, I love when Daniel, played by Liam Neeson, chuckles and asks Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) if he’s too young to be in love and Sam simply replies, “No,” like it’s the most natural thing in the world to be in love and to be tortured by it. And now Brodie-Sangster’s on Game of Thrones. And Martin Freeman who plays John is Bilbo Baggins as well as Watson, opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. And Cumberbatch is Khan in the new Star Trek movies. And of course, this Zombie Sonnet writer can’t ignore Andrew Lincoln whose Rick in The Walking Dead is a whole world away from Mark in Love Actually—so much so, that you don’t even know it’s the same actor.

There are more amazing characters and great story lines, but I’ll give you a break. Discussing all this, we decided we’d all invite ourselves to Josh and Lori’s place for movie night before they leave town, and we’ll pile onto the giant couch together. Josh and Lori have a ton of packing to do in a short amount of time, so when this idea came up, they both gave a wide-eyed, “That’s not happening!” cry.

S'mores and Peanut Butter Cup cake made by Heather

S’mores and Peanut Butter Cup cake made by Heather

It was a great afternoon, and we held fast to our time together, knowing we’ll be going our separate ways, and soon. And that’s when my brain connected all of it in the weird way it does, and I said, “Look around. This right here, all of us, this is our Love Actually. We’re all together with our separate story lines, and soon we’ll be off in the world. Some of us will go on to Star Trek, some to the Shire and hanging out with Sherlock, some to Westeros, and some of us won’t get Keira Knightley but we’ll go on to battle zombies and fight the good fight. There’s work to be done in the world. We’re not losing anyone. We’re expanding our reach.” It came out something like that.

To Josh and Lori, all our best to you on your move. Thank you for bringing us together as your friends.  We’ll see you at movie night.
My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon.


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