Chicago


July 1 - July 5

 

Sunday - Day Two

We stay in a Holiday Inn Express in Omaha, NB. We relax; then, looking at our schedule (on the computer, because we left the folder with our printed schedule behind at Stephen's), realize we left Colorado a day early. Hm. We decide to fix it by driving overnight to Washington DC - an 11-hour haul from Chicago. We watch Erin Brokovitch on Pay Per View. Ruse phones us from Pearson and we talk for a while, hearing about the reunions and the various changes at the college. We 'sleep in', eat breakfast at 8:30, and are on the road again by 9. Chicago, traffic, the East - here we come!

*

This part of Nebraska is lush, green, tree-lined. We're still in Omaha, but about to cross the Missouri to Council Bluffs. We are in the heartland: the signs read "Des Moines, left land, Kansas City right land". The sun is shining: another bright, hot, summer's day.

*

Another invisible river. Of course it's very small this far north, the Missouri, but. We are in Iowa. We made the crossing with no fanfare, just a change in exit numbers.

Iowa.
Land of
CORN.

*

Driving into Iowa listening to NPR (as is our wont). Sunday morning. We're treated to an hour of gospel music & Negro spirituals which puts us in mind of Pearson College choir and singers, because one of the songs we hear is "We're Walking in the Light of God" sung in both languages. It's slower than the choir's rendition. Later, we hear "O Happy Day" - the same arrangement as the Singers', but again slower.

*

We skirt Des Moines at 11:00, having done 143 miles from Omaha. The area we're in is no longer pastoral but semi- and sub- urban. I expect the approach to Chicago will grow increasingly industrial (and increasingly humid, as we approach Lake Michigan).

Let me tell you what my husband has been doing to me on this trip. He has been playing with my mind. We drive with the AC on, but I like to know what's outside every now and then. So I open my window a bit to sniff the air or feel the wind. Recently, every time I go to open the window I find Philip has locked it (he's the driver, he can do what he likes). But that's not the freaky thing. The FREAKY thing is the window's not always locked - only when I go to open it. Philip laughs evilly every time I try because, you see, HE KNOWS WHEN I'M GOING TO DO IT and locks the window one minute before. If i didn't know him I'd be scared out of my skull.

*

By lunchtime we're in mid-Iowa. We stop for gas in a small town called Tiffin a mile off the highway. NPR begins to read Chapter 4 of The Hitchhiker's Guide as we fill up at a gas station/general store. People stare discreetly at the car (right-hand drive). Inside the store it's very nice, and reminds me somewhat of home: friendly cashier, rows of bottled drinks. The bathroom was clean and home-like. We buy cookies and apple juice to go with leftover cheese, crackers and melon. I was wrong about the urbanization. We're still driving through cornfields, though the billboards & giant roadsigns of Davenport & the Quad Cities (four cities straddling the Mississippi - maybe THIS time we'll see Old Man River) are appearing on the side of the road & on the horizon. The land is flat & covered with haze. Humidity up ahead. I'm not really looking forward to liquid heat, but we need to experience some to build up our tolerance for home.

*

11:32: we cross the state line into Illinois. And we cross a river. I'm navigating, not looking. Philip says: "What's this river?" I look. It's the MISSISSIPPI!!!!!

"It's the Mississippi!!!" I yell. "I see it! I see it!"

So now I can die happy, having seen the mighty Mississippi.

*

In Illinois, real rain. Thundery clouds above, and serious raindrops fall onto the windshield. With luck they'll wipe the bugsplats away.

*

We roll into Chicago listening to - what else? - Chicago (the musical). The city sprawls but on this side - still fields, greenery, the feel of plains.

 back to denver
back to day 1
on to day 3

 

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