Friday, July 7, 2017

(43) The Country and the City and many miles in between...

July 6, 2017
Cleveland Ohio through Chicago

Yesterday, we began our day near Cleveland Ohio. We finished in a motel in Illinois within a few yards of Wisconsin. We covered many miles and I broke a few of the rules that I established before starting this trip. The first rule broken had to do with the miles covered. This was to be a trip that was more about seeing things along forgotten highways than it was a trip about covering distance.

The thrill of motoring through Ohio!

However, conditions were such that the time seemed ripe for putting a extra miles on the odometer. In addition some of the cities we found ourselves traveling through simply did not seem that interesting. Finally, road conditions would not cooperate. At one point in Ohio, as we approached Indiana we were detoured 20 miles to the east, then south before we were able to cross into Indiana. This put us on the Interstate 20 or 30 miles away from the Yellowstone Trail.

A second rule that I broke that is probably related to the first broken rule, we drove long hours. That's necessary when you're covering a lot of miles. We began the day about 7:30 in the morning. We ended the day at about 7 o'clock at night. It was over twelve hours if you count the time change. We are also staying in a motel again, partly because we cannot find a suitable campsite and also because we're tired.

Chicago Traffic, towing a trailer and
this wasn't even the bad part!

A third rule that was broken was that we drove through the heart of a big city (Chicago) during rush hour. We had originally planned to skirt around Chicago just as we had skirted around Buffalo, Erie and Cleveland. But skirting around Chicago at a distance to avoid the Chicago traffic would have meant a much larger detour. In addition, I put Chicago in a different category than Buffalo or Erie. I really didn't want to miss it. I also forgot that Chicago is on central rather than Eastern time. I really thought we were entering the city 6:30 rather than 5:30. In any event, we made it and  peered through our windows at the sights. At least now most of the big cities and the horrific traffic are behind us.

One of the things we noticed was that many of the midsize cities which are experiencing rapid growth look much the same. They have the same stores in the same strip malls and the stores within those malls are in the same order. This is happening to Boise as well. The identity of the cities is being lost through a process of homogenization. This homogenization doesn't appeal to me. I travel and tour in order to see new things.

Gee, it looks a lot like the one in Boise, or was it Fort Wayne?
The outskirts of Fort Wayne look a lot like the outskirts of any number of other Midwestern towns, and all of them look very much like our hometown of Boise, Idaho. What always seems strange about these places is that the mayors and the chambers of commerce are forever putting out press releases about what a unique city they have. This is done while the leaders of those cities themselves are working feverishly to make their city look just like one of a hundred other cities. Along the way they pick up the same problems, the same crime and the same traffic.

In Indiana, the Lincoln and the Yellowstone cross
and even share the road at a couple of points.

In Indiana we found ourselves back on the Lincoln Highway, in Fort Wayne and again in Valparaiso. In between, the Yellowstone traveled south of the Lincoln. This is unusual, because in most places the Yellowstone is the northern route. The Lincoln travels a little south through the heart of the country.

Neighborhood along the Yellowstone Trail in Chicago.

The Yellowstone Trail Organization has a terrific online map. It routed us on or very close to the original Yellowstone Trail. This took us right through quiet neighborhoods, and even through the heart of Chicago! Most of the time the places we drove through had changed very much. Other times they had changed very little. It was all interesting to observe.

I've talked a lot about the big cities in the traffic, but these Yellowstone Trail maps have also routed us through some beautiful countryside and some terrific small towns and even some great medium-sized towns.
Ohio Art, once the home of Etch a Sketch
We were able to see the headquarters of the Ohio Art Company, where they used to make Etch-a-Sketch. Another observation is the passage of time. When you consider that our drive across Nevada was in a blizzard and that even in Pennsylvania when we were heading east we observed the new crops coming up, we now are observing the harvesting of wheat. We realize that we've been on the road quite a long time.

A change in the architecture
The  Prairie Style home
Harvest in Ohio
Waukegan, IL
Today we will continue into Wisconsin and then head west towards Minnesota. I'm hoping to slow down more and to view what I think will be the heart of the territory traversed by an old named highway.

Small town Motel in Ohio


  1. Glad you're back in the midwest. Looking at your Chicago traffic picture, I think we just walked across that bridge a month ago on our way to the Navy Pier. We are also not a fan of big city traffic. We stayed near Midway airport and took public transport downtown.

    When you get to MN, St Paul has a diner downtown, open 24 hrs if I recall. Mickey's Diner.

  2. Thanks for the breakfast! I really enjoyed meeting up with you both, and I totally understand your reasoning for getting Chicago behind you. The Yellowstone Trail from here west will be a relaxing and enjoyable ride. Enjoy!