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Yes, the earth is flat (at least here), and it NEVER looked so good...

After what seemed like days on end of mountains, winding roads, sheer granite cliffs, and popping ears, we headed out from Cheyenne towards the next stop: Papillion, Nebraska. The road east on the High Plains was flat for the next eight hours. Hallelujah. We were never so happy to see miles of flatland.

Corn and soybeans are a huge crop in the state.

FACTOIDS: Did you know the Reuben sandwich and Kool-Aid both originated in Nebraska? Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian-born grocer in Omaha, invented this namesake sandwich. We're eternally grateful for that delectable combo of corned beef/pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on rye bread (Darcy S., David G. & Bill B. - are you paying attention?). Edwin Perkins of Hastings, NE created the fruit-flavored powdered mix Kool-Aid. Many kids back in the day drank it all summer long. Some dentists were grateful ($) for that iconic, sugar-laden drink.

One of the random, great experiences we had on this gloriously uneventful, peaceful ride was meeting a wonderful "guide" who worked at the new welcome center as you entered Nebraska. It and she were so warm and welcoming, and her enthusiasm was contagious. She strongly recommended we indulge in a local restaurant that sells a unique sandwich not available anywhere but Nebraska. It's called Runza. More on it later.

We had to go past Lincoln, the State Capitol. It brought back powerful, nostalgic memories for Bart. His father often talked about Lincoln, which was where he was sent by the Army Air Corps in 1942 for his WW 2 pilot's education (he later deployed to the Philippines, where he was a rear tail gunner on a night fighter plane). The picture on the left was taken 80 years ago. See any family resemblance? The one on the right is current.

After arriving at our hotel, we quickly checked in and went straight to Old Town Papillion. This is one of the last remaining frontier towns built in the model of 19th century Paris. The name is derived from the French word for butterfly. Butterfly benches and paintings are scattered throughout the community. Like so many other frontier towns, this one developed in the 1870s as a railroad depot. So many historic buildings caught our attention but of course this cool, old ice cream shop drew us in.

Talk about a throwback place (and, NO, Rorie did not indulge). We were holding out for whatever Runza's had to offer.

Now for the moment we've all been waiting for...The Runza. The name was coined by Sarah Everett who opened her first restaurant in 1949. This original mid-western staple is a mixture of cooked ground beef, chopped cabbage and onions all encased in a fluffy yeast bun. If you really want to get crazy, there are variations that include cheese, mushrooms, bacon and BBQ sauce. Bring it on! Oh dear, what were we thinking?

We just wanted a sandwich snack. The Assistant Manager had other ideas...

And, who knew she was gonna throw in their famous decadent chocolate chip cookie? Say "Hi" to Austi, who couldn't have been more friendly, kind and generous. She's a rock star.

From its humble beginnings, Runza has grown into a very successful regional eatery with over 80 outlets.

The "snacks" we ate gave us the energy needed to check out more of Papillion. The town's "motto" is absolutely on the mark. It really did "Feel Like Home".

Everything about the well-preserved downtown felt quaint.

Butterfly graphics dot Papillion's Main Street. The Town recently celebrated its 150th anniversary.

We stumbled onto a Farmer's Market after we left downtown.

It was teeming with local folks, despite the near 100 degree temps.

The Market was on the grounds of a beautiful local park. A historic "Boy Scout" log cabin was smack dab in its middle. Built in 1922, this was the headquarters for the first Boy Scout troop in the "village".

We had big plans for the next day, including lunch with Warren Buffet who lives in Omaha near Papillion (kidding). All that was on our schedule was getting an oil change in our "Tour-Mobile" at a local dealership. Man did that become the most expensive "oil change" in history. We ended up trading in our 2016 car with 130,000 miles for a 2021 with a mere 25,000 miles. Say "hi to Zack", the dealership's technology guru and new-car "bells and whistles" instructor. He sat with Bart in air conditioned comfort showing him the ropes, while Rorie emptied out the old car and transferred everything to the new one. What's wrong with this picture?

Driving off in our semi-new car and wondering, "How did that just happen?", we returned to our hotel to figure out how to turn on the headlights and windshield wipers, set the radio stations, adjust the seats, and put our next destination into the car's GPS. Next stop...St. Charles, Missouri.

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