Friday, July 1, 2011

Thursday, June 30

June 30.  Thursday.  Logged more than 600 miles.
I am reclining on a very comfortable bed at Sleep Inn in Fargo, North Dakota.  The reason I write these things down is because I am moving so fast across the country that I forget where I was just yesterday. So, brain test and to review—last night, slept in Illinois at the former nuts and bolts capital of USA: Rockford, Ill.
Oh, no. All rest stops closed in Minnesota. On the fourth weekend? Yup.

Pre-Minnesota (Wisconsin)- a huge National Guard center, and a new sign for "rest area."

Castle Rock, so very startling in the middle of all the flat farmland

I think. . . airplane wings?

No, wind turbine rotors. So huge. sooooo huge.

Stuck getting up an exit. too long

Bugs on the windshield, hot summer day. New empty power line stantions for future wind farm.

More bugs. Sun never sets. It's about 9:30 PM

Another closed MN rest stop.  Nutty.
Woke up this morning to a hot day, again, and it got hotter.  I left with the odometer reading 1239 miles traveled so far from Eastham, Massachusetts.  Tonight, it shows over 1800 miles. No kidding.
I entered Wisconsin soon after getting on the road-  (I-90). I would have stopped at their beautiful Welcome Center on the Interstate, but the sign said “rest area.”  Then came the architect’s wet dream (I didn’t really type that did I? yes. I am adopting a roadie mind) of a building with the Wisconsin sign, but I had already driven past the exit. So I missed it.
I got a kick out of some of the billboard signs that dotted the green rolling fields. . . soon after entering Wisconsin there was one that said, “Wisconsin Dolls, Gentlemen’s Club.”  And just after that, a huge billboard that said, “Sandals, Jamaica. Stay in bed all day.”  When did Sandals decide to one-up a Wisconsin gentlemen’s club? Amazingly weird marketing thinking, there. But something sure is fertile about Wisconsin because the corn was the best I’ve seen on this trip across the northern states. It was lush and thick with full leaves, about three feet high. Yoko and I tooled along, and soon we were passing through Madison, the university town, and also home town to my old friend Gip Hoppe. I remembered his claim that the rivers ran both ways in Madison, both east and west. That is worth a Google search, but not tonight, as I cannot get on the Internet.
Lots of boats heading for the Wisconsin Dells, lots of billboard signs proclaiming that a boat tour of the dells would be worth it. Lots of families getting a jump on their Fourth of July weekend, bikes loaded onto cars and trucks and the tail ends of Winnebagos. Many campers weaving in and out between the tractor trailers. Almost panic on the Interstate, all the jockeying for space, but most of the vacationers turned off at the dells. By this point, I had driven only 60 hectic miles, which would be one tenth of my drive today.  Hey, there was a sign for an Amtrack station. Good to know. I might just want to smuggle Yoko on board in a gym bag and take the train some day. Nah, she wouldn’t like it. She snores on the back seat most of the day, and today it was so hot she didn’t want to stay outside the car on a rest stop for more than a few minutes. I never imagined I’d be a one-legged menopausal woman heading across the country with a dust mop of a dog in the back seat, but here I am doing it.
How’s that working out for you, you say. The driving is easy. The hauling all my stuff and the dog in and out of the hotel rooms is not. I am more high maintenance than an infant with all the equipment. But I’ll get used to it. In a few years. People do stare at the leg, the crutches, the dog, the suitcase, the backpack, the dog-stuff-bag, and the spare leg. Ha ha ha. They have never seen a bag lady like this one. But they also don’t hassle me, since I can obviously handle anything if I can handle this.
Looking for a job?  A lot of the trucking companies on the road have these words lettered onto the back of their trailers: Drivers wanted.    There is an actual shortage of truck drivers in this country. Millis Transportation is hiring, for one. Try your favorite, I bet they are recruiting.  I tuned in the local radio, and picked up the third baseball game of the series, playing in the Bronx, the Milwaukee Brewers against the NY Yankees. A beautiful day at the ball park, says the announcer. Not as hot as what I was driving through. With the humidity factor, the temp was up over 100F.  I drove on, and beheld before me a castle rising up on the right. . . and then a blue sign “Wayside.”  I decided that must mean rest stop, so I did.  The castle is a beautiful rock formation left over from eons ago. ..Amazing, this was once the floor of the ocean, now a scenic landmark known as Castle Rock. One of the largest National Guard bases I’ve ever seen was located adjacent to this stop. Yoko and I got out of the car for a hot five minutes, and the deer flies found us. Eagles were soaring over head, it was all so scenic. I stretched and got back at it.
Note:  I have gotten very good at picking up my camera which rides on the passenger seat and holding it out in the direction I see something interesting and shooting without really pausing to focus. Because I am driving. This is true point and shoot. And a subject always presents itself. Soon I passed two tractor trailers hauling some very large plane wings on mammoth trailers, wide load signs before and after each truck. But they were so long, and then it hit me, these were windmill blades. I scooted up the road and then pulled over so I could take some pictures as they passed by. . . and that was a trick, but check out the shots. These things were huge. . . and later I heard on the radio that a new windfarm is to be constructed in the state of Minnesota, the next state west. There is some controversy here, as everywhere, about the windmill sickness that people get when they are too near the rotors of these industrial giants (they snyc in the wind and then go womp womp womp and flicker flicker flicker) so a new local regulation had been made that they had to be sited one half of a mile from any residence. A judge over-ruled this, but the electric utility was told it would be nice if they observed it anyway. Are utilities ever nice when they don’t have to be? We’ll see. And then, I passed miles and miles of empty power line stations, and then I realized, no duh, this was the new infra-structure required to get the soon to be created wind power to the grid. So, America is making power the green way, and don’t tell me they are going to sell it to Canada or I’ll croak.

Finally reached Eau Claire, which meant that soon I’d be crossing the Mississippi into Minnesota. All around me most of the day. . . the most beautiful green fields. Blue skies, or swamp forests when passing though the dells area. All rural heaven. Gas $3.69 in Eau Claire. I talked to my Dad on the Blue Ant. . . he was reading the travel blog back on Cape Cod. All was well, and then I passed into MN.
And Minnesota is in deep doo-doo today. It’s all over the radio. . .The legislature has been unable to balance the budget, (but maybe, as in Massachusetts, it was just handed to them yesterday), so a judge has ordered all unnecessary services to be shut down if they don’t get it done by midnight tonight. All the Interstate rest areas. All the state parks. All the state campgrounds. All the state boat ramps. All the state agencies to run on skeleton crews. Cops and rescue to stay on full duty.  Seven thousand campers would normally be camping today at Itasca State Park (sp?). The campers that were already there were told to leave. I could not stop and go pee. I drove straight across Minnesota, and into Fargo. It was a beautiful drive, but eerie. Nobody home. And so, you see, I am glad to be in Fargo tonight. Nightie night.

1 comment:

Jim Wolf said...

This might be what Gippe was talking about:

The Bois Brule River Valley and the uppermost St. Croix River Valley were carved by meltwater flowing south from glacial Lake Superior and the surrounding uplands. When the glaciers receded, a divide formed out of which the Brule and St. Croix rivers flow today in opposite directions

Great writing Irene--I feel like I'm there with you, even if I can't be carrying your bags!

Love Hub