Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 5, crossed the Mississippi

Rollin on the river...

from day 4: the corn palace in Mitchell.  Had to get it up for you!

Day 5
Yoko and I are in a Red Roof Inn in Elkheart, Indiana.  Near Notre Dame. I left the amazingly modern agro-town of Ceder Falls, Iowa this morning. Nice people at the desk of the American Inn gave me directions to find Waterloo, and then to get on to the right highway for eventual intersection with I-80.  The sun was out, but the sky was white with haze, rather than my western blue I am so used to. Have to let that go. This was all farm country.  Big old ancient barns had fallen in and not been taken care of or removed. Apparently big agro companies have bought all the land and they don’t give a rat’s butt about the old barns. Corn everywhere, but not harvested yet. Not as tall as it should have been, not as tall as corn used to grow in my grandfather’s field in Pepperell, MA. I suspect it is all for ethanol rather than feeding the starving peoples of the world, or even for feeding chickens. Big tall deciduous trees on the side of the road and dividing farms. The leaves are all still green, but the goldenrod on the side of the road is bright yellow.  Fall is coming.
Made it to Interstate 80 in a few hours, and then, sure enough, what a wonderful way to avoid Chicago.  I was traveling the wrong way on the highway to get into Iowa 80’s  “World’s Largest Truck Stop.”  I looked over at it and saw laundry mats, restaurants, truck washes, scales, you name it. Trucker heaven.  I went over the Mississippi River and into Illinois (200 miles to Chicago) before I could get a shot with my camera, so pulled over to the rest area on the other side of it, and from way up on that hill took a weak picture looking back at it. To commemorate the moment, I let Yoko run around under a huge oak tree.  There were some acorns on the ground, so I picked one up and put it in my pocket. I decided to bring it home and plant it and name the new oak tree my Mississippi Oak. Something to nurture.Had a rough morning this morning, the leg did not want to work, so had to load the car up on crutches. That is hard. Try it for kicks, You’ll discover a well of gratefulness around the fact that you can walk normally and carry things(if you can). I had three steps to go up and down this morning at the American Inn, on crutches with suitcase, medicine bag, dog bag, dog on leash, computer bag and toiletries bag. It took three trips. When I was done, I was already tired, so needless to say, got off to a slow start this morning, and only did a little over 300 miles today, so that is why I decided to plant an acorn.  I need a project that will keep me grounded.
I passed an interesting sign at Exit 45, “Birthplace of President Ronald Reagan.”  I never knew he was born in Illinois. About a hundred years ago, now. He’d have loved the windmills.  So, Chicago. . . just hit the southern tip of it, avoided all the horrible toll booths that are arranged up around the west side of the lake. Trick toll booths, I should say-  with no warning, you are supposed to take a jug handle if you are paying coin and don’t have a Chicago toll booth pass. I wonder if an EZ pass would work. Oh well, avoided what drove me nuts on the way out west. And really liked what I saw in Iowa, the farm scenes were pretty. Had always missed Iowa before by driving further north. I was as excited by the big wind farms in the cornfields as a little kid looking at a pinwheel display, especially at that wonderful simultaneous sunset/moonrise that happened last night with all the windmills turning. Mesmerizing.So here I am. . . in my Red Roof Inn. . . the old fashioned kind which I love with no internal halls to drag the suitcase down, the car is parked right outside my door. What is wrong with that?  I will hear it if anyone tries to break into my car, and I will activate the panic button on my key fob and scare the be-jesus out of them. It could be kind of fun. But no, I am not wishing for it.
I think I will make Cape Cod by Thursday.  I could push for late Wednesday night, by then I’ll arrive all bedraggled, and why do that?  So sorry the picture thing-y is not working well because I have taken so many for you cannot show them.  Thank you for reading. 
Mississippi River there in the background, bridge to the left. 

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