Monday, July 4, 2011

The Heartland and More

Day 17: 762 Miles
Total: 6,672 Miles

It was a long day yesterday as you can tell by the mileage covered. So long that I was too tired to write my blog last night so I'm catching up this morning. We got a good night's sleep yesterday at a very nice motel in Nebraska. We managed to get up early and got started at about 8:15; more than an hour earlier than our typical day.

We passed through the last couple hundred miles of eastern Nebraska and made good time. No spectacular scenery, just pleasant farmland and an occasional interesting town. I took a few pictures just to take them.

As we entered Iowa we saw more of the same; Nebraska and Iowa along Route 20 are very much the "heartland of America". Nothing exciting, but lots of green crops and attractive farm buildings. I did notice a pattern in Iowa though. Many of the farms had a straight tree line planted along the west side of the house and barn, then a perpendicular row planted to the north of the same buildings, like two sides of a square. The south and east sides were left open. I surmised that it was probably to protect from the brutal winter winds and snow, but I really have no idea. About a third of the way through Iowa Route 20 became a divided four-lane highway - basically like an interstate highway - and it ran through the rest of the state that way. Fast and efficient but mind-numbingly boring. I took a few pictures just to say I had something in Iowa.

We were making great time, and we entered the state of Illinois at about 5:00pm having advanced an hour by moving from mountain time to central time part way through Nebraska. After crossing the Mississippi the landscape took a very different form. Although there was still a lot of farmland the roads were anything but straight, and the farmland was intermixed with lots of trees. It was a nice change from Route 20 in Iowa. We went through the historic town of Galena, Ulysses S. Grant's hometown, and passed through other historic small towns as well.

We were moving at a slower pace than in the prior states but were still making pretty good time. We slowed down more once we hit Rockford and as we approached the Greater Chicago area. U.S. 20 and U.S 12 link together in the Greater Chicago area, running north and south in the suburbs just outside of the city proper. While this was very clearly suburban Chicago, the fact that it was Sunday evening made travel pretty pleasant...that is until we made a left turn and began heading into the south side of Chicago. By now it was getting pretty late in the evening and we were driving through very poor areas of the city with lousy pavement and un-timed stoplights every few blocks. It took forever to drive through there, then came East Chicago and Gary, Indiana. By 11:00pm or so we sought out a Quality Inn near Michigan City, Indiana, where we spent the night. Exhausted.

Overall, this was the least enjoyable day of our journey. Hopefully today will be better, but we are going to see more of the same, at least as we drive through parts of Cleveland. I've done that before on Route 20 and am not looking forward to that part of the journey, but hopefully the rest of the day will be pleasant.


1 comment:

Aunt Mona said...

Beautiful pictures of Iowa! You should print out one of the best pictures from each state and hang them in your office.
I don't think there is any such thing as a good time to drive thru Chicago. If there is, we never got there at the right time.
Stop driving so far! You are putting my nephew and his wonderful lady in peril by getting too tired! Stop it! Love you.