Friday, July 10, 2015

Days 26-27: Go Home

Today's Distance: > 608 miles (9th) plus 574 miles (10th)
Total Distance: about 8166 miles
Today's Destinations:  Rochester, MN; Wall Drug, SD; Rapid City, SD

Well, yesterday started out rather disappointingly.  We had planned to visit my former ballet teacher in Indianapolis.  She was only free in the morning/early afternoon, but since we were only 3 1/2 hours away, we thought we'd be able to make it.  However, I thought (because Google told me) that Indiana was on Central Time so we'd gain an hour.  It's not.  Indiana is on Eastern Time - what the heck?!  So after texting back and forth a few times with her, we realized we couldn't feasibly meet and give her time to get back to work.  So that was pretty disappointing. :(

Anyway, so there was nothing to do to get back on the road, and we pushed a button on the GPS for the first time: "Go Home."

The way home for us from Toledo is to drive on I-90 for about 2000 miles.  It is a long, straight road.  Two things, however, broke up the monotony, and not in a good way.  I would like to talk about them briefly:

1) Tolls.  In New York, you have to pay a toll every time you get off the interstate.  In Indiana and Illinois you pay a toll every 10-20 miles.  It's ridiculous.  I assume the tolls go to pay for the upkeep up the highways.  Are the highways in any better condition than anybody else's?  No!  They are just as crappy as Mississippi's (which are free).  In fact, I have yet to drive through a state whose highways are equal to, let alone better than, Washington's.  Our gas prices may be egregious, but we actually do see our tax dollars at work.

2) Construction.  You know that joke everybody in every state (except Washington) says, "in _____ there are only two seasons: winter and construction"?  In Ohio, it's true.  And I thought it must be worse in Ohio than in any other state, but guess what?  Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota - I'm beginning to feel like the entire Interstate 90 is under construction! Could we maybe finish one or two sections before one-laning it through an entire state?

So on Thursday, we ended up driving through our record number of states(5): Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota!  It was pretty impressive, but that's because we were in Western Ohio and made it to Eastern Minnesota, and we kind of curved upward halfway through Illinois (thank God, I was beginning to hate that state) into Wisconsin, and then cut over again into Minnesota.

As far as geography goes, Western Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois all look pretty much the same.  It's a lot of yellow and a lot of corn fields, mostly.  Wisconsin and Minnesota are a bit prettier - more trees, hills, and green - but still corn.

Today we drove from Eastern Minnesota all the way through South Dakota, stopping in Rapid City.  The first time Justin drove through South Dakota, he said afterward that it "ate his soul."  It's not ugly, per se, but it is pretty monotonous.  I'm pretty sure, though, that the reason Justin hated the state so much was because he drove through it after going through Missouri and Iowa. Enough said?

Even so, we were glad to have Agatha Christie to keep us company as we drove through the very flat, monochromatic blandness that is South Dakota.  All the way until we reached the famous city of Wall, or more specifically, the famous shopping district of Wall Drug.

80 years ago, Wall Drug Store was just a drug store that offered free ice water.  It still has that today, but it's now a mall-sized block of shops and restaurants all owned by Wall Drug.  It is a total tourist trap.  You should definitely go if you're ever in the area.  It's quite the experience!

Strangely, as soon as we entered South Dakota, Justin started sneezing.  As we progressed through the state, he continued to sneeze intermittently, until when we finally reached Wall Drug he was feeling a little sick.  We checked online for hotels in town but found they were all booked, so we drove to our original destination of Rapid City, which is just 50 miles farther (also very close to Mt. Rushmore).

 After about 250-300 miles of flat, boring land, you enter the Badlands.  I'm not sure where they got that name because this is the most beautiful countryside, especially in late afternoon because the sun makes the colors so vivid when they contrast with the shadows.  It's really, really pretty.

All in all, we're making pretty good time, although it is a lot of hours in the car.  We're looking forward to being home!

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