Sunday, July 19, 2009

We were feeling good – well-rested for the most part and our bellies full of delicious/cheap breakfast! Route 20 was a really lovely highway through some really rural places in Ohio. We passed through farming town centers no bigger than a couple of blocks, the cutest one being Maumee; a tiny town with a roundabout at its heart, flanked by a hardware store, city hall, a library and an archaic (yet lovely) movie theater marquee proudly displaying that Harry Potter 6 tickets were a mere $5.00. We saw tons and tons of farms and teenagers on riding mowers and silos. I thought Ohio was pretty cute.

Then came Indiana. For the most part, I thought northeastern Indiana was a snoozefest, even the farms were a little less pretty than those in Ohio. And then it rained while I was driving – grr. And then we accidentally took a detour to Michigan (thanks, Jus) that added an extra hour or so to our itinerary. And then we saw this on the horizon…

WTF?! I pulled into a casino parking lot to try and get a better look at this monstrosity. Why was it here? Don’t the townspeople find it odd that there’s a giant nuclear reactor obstructing their view of the Midwestern sky? I just couldn’t believe it! “Man…” I thought to myself, “Can’t wait to get out of this creepy place and go put my toes in Lake Michigan!” So after a couple of minutes, I regained my composure and we continued on our way.

Finally made it to the Indiana dunes along Lake Michigan. We gathered our beach blanket, some snacks and the camera and began the short hike through the woods to get to the lake…

Made our way up to the boardwalk…

And was confronted with the following:


We didn’t stay long.

After that unpleasant surprise, we got stuck in traffic around Gary (scariest place ever!) and then again while trying to get the fuck away from Chicago. This put us back another two hours. Jeesh! We stopped in a strip mall outside of Rockford, IL for a quick pasta dinner and a few gallons of Coke and then made the decision that we would drive on into the night, in hopes of making it to Iowa. It was 8:30 pm.

Justin valiantly took the wheel, while I selfishly snuck in a few naps and we continued westward. The road was curvy and the semi trucks were plentiful, unlike the streetlights. I can only guess that it was very cloudy because there was nary a star in the sky that night. We made it through most of Illinois without any problems and finally we were near the Illinois/Iowa border, just had to pass through one more town, Galena. From what I could tell, Galena looked pretty cute and old-timey, but the roads sure were steep. Like 7% grade. That would usually make me just a little nervous in a car, but I was actually sweating a little in that stupid box truck in a pitch black night. Ugh. But of course, Justin expertly guided us through that potentially treacherous situation and we burst over the border into Iowa with triumphant fury.

By this point, it was about 1 am and we were quickly becoming exhausted. We set Waterloo as our destination town and steeled ourselves for the last 30 minutes of driving. That’s when the creepy fog started. Seriously, we were just driving along and all of a sudden, this amorphous green fog descended upon us, swirled around and then lifted in the space of about 30 seconds. This happened twice. I’m convinced it was aliens.

We arrived in Waterloo, sans abduction, and settled into our overpriced Super 8 motel room with high hopes for the next morning’s free continental breakfast and South Dakota.

US 20 through Ohio and Indiana
US 31 – accidental detour into Michigan
US 12 to the dunes
I-94 to circumvent downtown Chicago
I-290 westward out of Chicago
US-20 through Illinois and Iowa