Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Day 5: Merrillville, IN - Lincoln, NE

At last a day both sunny and warm was forecast and for once they were right.  On the road at 07:15 and the traffic wasn't too bad considering that Merrillville is effectively a suburb of Chicago.  Once the urban bits have been left behind, northern Illinois is pan-flat and rather drear.  Finally I-80 crosses the Mighty Mississippi - a good size but a stream compared to the same river in Baton Rouge - and into Iowa.

Now I'd always pictured Iowa as being, well, like northern Illinois, and thought than when Dar Williams sang about walking the hills of Iowa she was using some kind of metaphor too subtle for a Bear of little brane.  But no, Iowa is lumpy.  Lumpy and full of maize.  And hot; temperatures are already in the low thirties before midday.  And hostile to smokers:

Welcome to Iowa, and put that bloody fag out!
Not long after spotting this, a new truck speed record as I was passed while doing 75 mph by a full-on eighteen-wheeler.  Uphill.  I want some of whatever his engine is on.

On through the heat and maize until, near Prairie City, Emily suffers a storm somewhere in her little electronik brane and tries to send me on a scenic tour of Iowa's back roads in order to avoid a serious traffic holdup.  After trying it on four or five times she reverts to behaving sensibly once more.  Had there been a jam, I suppose I'd have had to apologise...

Finally down into Council Bluffs, across the slightly-less-Mighty Missouri and bid farewell to the last new state of this leg of the trip.  It's back to Nebraska, last visited in 2011.  That was the other end of the state, though, and the place is about 450 miles across.

On bridges: As some of you will doubtless know, YACF's Crinkly Lion has a thing about bridges.  It is thus disappointing that in spite of crossing a Several of Mighty Rivers - the Connecticut, the Hudson, the Susquehanna, the Mississippi and the Missouri - the only bridge I've been able to snap was a twenty yard covered one in Quechee, VT.  Perhaps next year I'll combine Battle Mountain with a spot of bridge-bagging.

And so to Lincoln, or it would have been had not an accident brought the 80 down to one lane.  A Ford Escape (a small SUV) appeared to have been hit simultaneously from all sides save underneath at once, and the rescue dudes appeared to be sawing it in half.  Nasty.

So now in Lincoln with BEER, salami and cheese.  All is right with the world.

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