Derek Johnson Muses

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Seward Nooks: Loose West Ends

Even though it doesn’t always feel like it, I’ve lived in and around Seward, Nebraska for the vast majority of my life. I drive on the same roads, go to the same stores, and have outlasted several business. The whole town keeps telling me the same story every day, and even though it gets a bit stale sometimes, the story doesn’t totally suck.

So to that end, I put together a diary of some of the nooks around tow. The first little area is one I drove by all the time on Bluff Road/Hillcrest Street back in high school, and still do occasionally when I go to the Pac-‘N’-Save or to visit my uncle.

Bend in the Road....

Bend….

If this road were any good, I probably would have used more than I have, especially when we lived outside of Seward. It is the first country road west of Seward between US 34 and Bluff Road, curving with the river at the road’s north-most point. Every time there are extensive rains, the road turns to mush. I avoid it even on days when it doesn’t rain because the ruts that are left 250-grade pickups have messed the whole road up. When I’m out scouting fields, the ruts on this roads are the benchmarks for terrain I’m willing to go on.

The Bridge...

The Bridge…

This is the bridge on Bluff Road, right next to the curve and the end of the road I mentioned above. Most of the bridges that link country roads across the Blue River in the Seward area are like this: shoddy metal bridges that I would stop in front of if another vehicle was approaching from the opposite direction. And I know it must be a legal issue, but do we really have trucks rumbling down these country roads that get anywhere close to ten tons, much less the fifteen ton, advertised limit?

One that Got Away...

One that Got Away…

I can remember when this little turn off was first cut into East Hillcrest back in the mid-to-late 90’s. It was intended that this would be the second of two streets across from where the E-Free Church was at the time. It’s been fifteen or sixteen years, and not a single piece of ground has broken on this whole lot.

As a matter of fact...

As a matter of fact…

They haven’t even filed in the lots on the other street, Augusta Drive. (In their defense, they’ve come pretty close.) My best estimation, thirty or forty houses have been built in Seward since those curbs cuts were made. But it’s easy to see why nothing has been done. There are plenty of places to build in Seward where you feel more connected to the community.  Meanwhile, this fake sidewalk meanders on. Too bad we can’t get our tax dollars back on this one.

Twist and Shout...

Twist and Shout…

I’ve never heard of an accident at this intersection, but it’s an accident waiting to happen. The road is part of a thru-route and quite busy, there’s a yield sign to the city traffic, and if you turn west, you go straight over the tracks. Seriously, city-planner-who-designed-this, couldn’t you have kept the road on the west side of the tracks until it got to Bluff Road? Okay, I’m sure it’s a flood-plain issues, but I don’t think the issue would be any better or worse going the way you did.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bail Up!

East of that road and southwest of that development that wasn’t is this hayfield which gets mowed every so often. It’s not the worst location in the world, except that’s it is probably considered a flood plain. During the Seward County Fair, it be a great place to have a food stand, but until then, someone will probably keep bailing hay there, even it’s just so conspicuous.

Flight

There comes a time in your life when you know you have to take courage and go on the run. Maybe it’s just because I’m an artists, and artists thrive on fresh perspective. Either way, I’ve flown from my coop in Seward to come to Dubuque to stay with a great friend. I’m living in a little studio side apartment which sits on a hill overlooking the Mississippi. It’s small and humbling, and frankly, I’m relieved.

My studio

I don’t know what exactly I’ll do here or how long I’ll stay. Probably a couple of weeks. I’ll do some roaming of the country roads, find some barns to photograph. I’ve brought about eight book, and hopeful I will read at least some of them. I’m going to roam the rural roads in southwest Wisconsin and northern Illinois and find some nice barns to photograph. I’ll write a lot and try to get some perspective.

The view

Today, I took a walk in the Mines of Spark State Park south of town and considered where I stood in life. I’m twenty-eight, and I still have a lifetime of opportunities ahead of me. If I want to be a writer/photographer, some sacrifices will have to be made to get to where I want to be. Stay tuned…

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