Since I last updated you, I spent two days on the road. I left the Des Moines area a bit later than I had planned, with a workout being done and some packing up. I left Snoop Doggs (Sally D) with J Bird and her family, and took to the road. Glad to report that she is getting lots of love in that household with J Birds kids and two other resident dogs – Gus ‘the muss’ and ‘Loco’ Bella (she really is loco).
So, how was the drive out of Iowa? Hmmm. Um, long, fairly boring really. Interstate highways are fast and efficient, but they generally lack much character. The I80/I90 is a big ribbon of bitumen that runs across the Midwest from Nebraska to the east coast. It’s full of trucks and truck stops, and truckers, and regular people driving across this big continent.
I listened to the radio and in this part of the world there are two very prominent types of radio: country music, and Christian radio. Actually, this may be the ONLY radio in some parts!
The country music all tends to sound kind of the same – about 4 themes involving these key words: pick up truck, girl, tight jeans, drink/drinking, god, my daddy, dirt road, America. There’s only about 3 melody types to go with it too. The alter ego is the female country lyric, which are generally two types: sweet and in love (or heartbroken), or kind of angry and assertive ‘confident woman’ types.
I’m pretty sure you could bust out a country melody (any of the three versions) and fit these words to it, in any particular order and you would have a bonefide Nashville hit:
“girl I seen you sitting there, looking way too good in your tight jeans…
got to get myself another drink….
cause the god I pray to knows I’m doin’ the best I can…
like my daddy showed me how….
we go heading down the dirt road …. how we do it in ‘merica. ….
Boom. No joke this shit is that predictable!!
(disclaimer, apologies to any country music fans or Christians my comments may have offended)… but its true!
Of course America is a great place to explore and it would be wrong to label states as dull or boring – you really need to get off the interstate to explore the back roads – while that is a lot of fun, on this trip, I really need to make the miles. Getting away a bit late put me behind the 8 ball to make my planned destination for the night – Toledo Ohio.
I got on the I80 east and buzzed along, with some mandatory stops at gas stations etc. At about the evening (it comes early in mid winter) I bypassed Chicago. The traffic was heavy and some mist was thrown up from the melted snow and ice on the road. At some point, the I80 ‘became’ the I94. I hadn’t seen a sign for Toledo, but was seeing signs for Detroit. It seems that after Chi town I took an inadvertent change onto I94 – not massively out of way, but a bit further than I needed to go to get to Toledo.
After consulting my map I reckon I had it worked out. I would skim by Ann Arbor and head south and that would take me right in to Toledo. I had booked a motel and I knew it was on the I80 in Toledo, so I had somewhere to aim for.
It was getting ridiculously late (past midnight) as I headed south to Toledo. I found myself entering the city from the north, and a confusing spaghetti of ramps and curves for different freeways appears.
The thing about the American road system is that it deals primarily in route numbers, rather than destination names. Not always the case because you find reference to places on a lot of signs, but it is extremely confusing to go through this junction and that junction, and that turn off or whatever, and suddenly you see 285, or I29 east or whatever, without any reference for what city or even what direction they go in. Its terribly confusing.
So I got lost, and got some direction from a hotel reception clerk. Without reproducing the story, lets just say that I drove around for an hour. I even saw the damn motel! I couldn’t pull off the turnpike and it sent me 10 miles out of the city before I could reconnect with a road coming back in. It was about 1.30 am before I could actually get into the motel. Damn you American freeway system!!! By the end of the day, I had crossed from Iowa, into Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.
So this morning I took off early enough. Crossing from Ohio, into Pennsylvania, and New York state.
I went into Buffalo, and being so close to the Niagara Falls, I just had to take the opportunity to go and see it!
After that it was back on the road, and I took the opportunity to drive along side lake Ontario. There are some lovely houses and spots along that coast. Some awesome back decks that look out of the massive expanse of blue lake – it disappears somewhere way over the horizon. Of course I got lost again. The roads in that area are a confusing maze and again, not much in the way of town signs for direction but you can find a 198 east or whatever that isn’t even shown on my map!
I’ve stopped just short of my target of Syracuse, NY. Tomorrow, more of the same madness!