Miles travelled: about 560
States: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois
This was another fairly uneventful day. We got to drive through Cleveland, but I was disappointed that we weren't able to see the Chicago skyline from I-80. Heh, and it was kinda weird not being able to pay with EasyPass in Ohio or Indiana. The landscape gradually became less woodsy and more farmy, although even as I write this we haven't been to a spot yet that is entirely flat and boring. I got to explain to my dad what hybrid corn is all about, because I'm an agro-genetics nerd.
There was a possiblity of seeing Alli yesterday, but it didn't work out due to a fearsome combination of cockroaches and poison ivy. Still, I got to have a twenty-five-minute phone conversation with her in which we joked around about the Midwest, Snakes on a Plane, etc. Also got to have a brief conversation with Dan. There wasn't much content to it, but we were at least both cheerful, which is reassuring after our sub-par visit.
We ended up camping at the KOA in Utica, IL. Nice little place, and I got to see some cows on my way back from the bathroom the next morning. The insects were really loud and had me awake around 5AM, but at least Dad wasn't snoring. Had dinner at a nice Irish tavern.
Miles: 480 or so
States: Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska
We're halfway there! (Whoa-o! Living on a prayer!)
We got kind of a late start between having to pack up camp, searching in vain for a local doughnut shop, and going to Wal*Mart for a few more camping supplies. The drive through Iowa was long but not without interesting points. For one, we stopped at the World's Largest Truckstop, which is even more hypnotizing than Wal*Mart. Lots of truck accessories and gift shop crap out to wazoo. We also passed by Des Moines, which was amusing because, as I remembered from two years ago, the city attempts to make a skyline out of about five buildings.
I've been pouring over the Tom Brown class in my head. I'm excited about practicing what I've learned but still have not come to a conclusion about where to start. I'm also not sure how practical it will be for me to escape to the mountains on a weekend and find a place where I can work undisturbed. The joy of Homecoming also keeps floating through my mind... fire, parades, practice, halftime... I want so badly to go and to get Dan to meet me there, but I don't know if either of those things are possible. Let's see, I'll be halfway through my first lab rotation, I know I wouldn't miss the core course because it meets Tue-Thur, but the May-Ernest labs have lab meeting on Friday...
For dinner, we stopped in Omaha and had Indian food with saturn117! It was really nice to see her and catch up (especially after driving so far out into the middle of nowhere, heh). Then we drove the rest of the way to Lincoln and found a motel for the night. We stayed up to watch The Dog Whisperer, then got up kind of late.
Miles travelled: about 510 (End odometer read for today is 2198; I haven't been counting the minor detours.)
States: Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado
We spent the bulk of today driving through Nebraska. It's amusing to see trucks driving on dirt roads and nearly keeping up with the traffic on the interstate.
We saw lots of signs for this Pioneer Village thing, and figured it would be a good stop for gas, food, and a change of driver. Once we got off the interstate and started driving that way, we realized that it was more than ten miles out of our way, but we kept going anyway, passing a cattle ranch of horrid poopy death. The smell was like cow manure mixed with charred meat, and my throat got all scratchy and full of mucus like I was inhaling something particulate (aerosol poop..?). Once we got to the Pioneer Village we decided that it was not worth the time or the admission fee, so we turned back disappointed. Then we went to a giant Cabela's store because Dad loves their catalog, but that took longer than it should have because we did not heed the detour signs. After that we ate at a Chinese buffet and resolved to get out of the state as fast as possible.
As we went across Nebraska from east to west, the landscape changed from corn, cattle, and trees, to grassy hills and the occasional abandoned ranch, to rocky outcroppings popping out of the grass. I got really excited about the rocky part. Oh, guys, we're finally in the West. It's awesome. :-D
While we were at a gas station I got a call from the Comix Cafe, and was finally able to tell them that I've moved to California. Ha, they can't harass me with their free tickets anymore!
Iowa has free wireless at all of its rest stops. We didn't use this nifty feature because I hadn't written all this up yet, but then the wireless at the motel last night wasn't working, and Nebraska is not exactly a metropolitan kind of place with wireless for everyone. My computer's acting a little weird too.
As we got through Wyoming and into Colorado, the Rocky Mountains became visible... yay... Kind of chilly out here too. I was thinking about a route through the mountains but changed my mind after Dad told me about his trip through them decades ago, in which he saw tire tracks through the snow down into a ravine, and police taking pictures of the wreck with telephoto lenses because they couldn't get down there.