January Across America - Days 2 & 3 - Chicago to Ann Arbor

So, I'm a little tired, hence no writing yesterday.

Iowa was really beautiful. What a treat to go check out the Bridges of Madison County and see the capitol building in Des Moines again. It was heartening to see the hundreds and hundreds of wind farms driving across the great plain states. Winterset, Iowa, it should be noted, is probably the greatest example of an Americana downtown square are that I have ever seen.

I didn't really stop much in Northern Illinois (with the exception of the tolls on I-88. The speed limit dropped down to 65mph, which seemed like torture all the way to Chicago.

What to say about Chicago? It was so great staying with my old roommate Peter Stevens. We ran down to Millennium Park so I could check out the development there where the huge open air amphitheater and "the bean" is located. I loved being back in Boys Town (North Halstead) and remembering the wild times from a previous visit. I need to spend more time in the Windy City, I think I'd like to live there someday.

Indiana, I hardly new thee. Other than a kick ass welcome center and a sub-par Walmart pitstop, there wasn't much time nor geography to really go exploring. Next time!

Michigan has been great. Ann Arbor, is a beautiful town with a fantastic, walkable little downtown.

I've decided to adjust my approach a little bit and instead of trying to hurry and get to a city to check it out during rush hour (which just sucks in Chicago), I'm going to check things out the following day.

So this morning I'm in Ann Arbor, Michigan and I will be traveling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here's what's on the dock for today:
  • Comerica Park (Home of the Detroit Tigers, my boyhood team)
  • Henry Ford Museum (thanks Kevin Sheppard!)
  • Toledo Zoo
  • lunch: Tony Packos in Toledo (Thanks Sara Wiegand Wilson!)
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • Kirtland, OH sites
  • (hopefully visiting with Mary Brown and Marilyn Zalatel in the Cleveland area)
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame
It's going to be a very full day, but it's only 4 hours to Pittsburgh so I'll be able to take it a  more leisurely pace.


January Across America - Day 2 - Omaha to Chicago

What a difference 20 years makes.

The last time I travelled across Nebraska I was an early teenager and I remember very little enjoyment during the process.

Here's what I discovered yesterday along the route:

  • Where there are cottonwood trees there is water.
  • Once you leave Utah, people actually follow the rules driving on the interstate.
  • Lincoln loves football.
  • Omaha loves baseball.
  • Runza is a delicious local fast food chain.
  • I don't want anything to "Shine bright like a diamond" again. Ever. (Really Rihanna?)
  • Nebraska is beautiful in January.
Thank you everyone for sending me messages via email or Facebook. Your tips help make this a very unique experience for me so keep them coming!

I may not respond right away while I'm driving, but I am reading your messages along the route. So, keep them coming!!!

Here is an example (I hope she wont mind me sharing) from a Facebook message I received yesterday morning:

"You know.....I am a daughter of Nebraska. I often miss The Plains. But not in winter . . . Nebraska's been good to me. Hope it's good to you today. Travel safely and go with God!"
I love this. Nebraska was a perfect place to start the trip and it was good to me.

Today's schedule:

Omaha to Chicago 
471 Miles (7 hours)

Iowa and Northern Illinois are on the dock for today. I seem to remember that the Iowa state capitol was stunningly beautiful so I'm planning on stopping in Des Moines.

Otherwise, I'm not sure.

So what's up Hawkeye fans? What makes Iowa so great? (It can't just be that the future Captain Kirk is from there).

Look for more pics from the little red chicken along the route.

See you in Chicago!



January Across America - Day 1 - Denver to Omaha

There is greatness in this country of ours, I am convinced. I set out today on a journey of discovery and wonderment, yes, even in January.

As I write this in the pre-dawn hours in my hometown of Denver, Colorado I am filled with excitement at the road ahead, understanding that my knowledge of the cities and states in which my route will traverse is generally limited to childhood vacations and academic study of city and regional planning.

I am also keenly aware that I need some coffee.

The thought crossed my mind that social media was made for an experience like this. I intend to utilize it.

It is my hope that you, my Facebook nation, will not just follow along as I post pictures and write about the places I am to go, but will help contribute with your knowledge, experiences and love of place.

Here is today's schedule:

Denver to Omaha
538 miles (8 hours)

So . . . for those of you in the know . . . tell me what's great about Nebraska.

I'm planning on stopping at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln to check out a different campus bathed in red. Then it's on to check out Omaha for the rest of the afternoon and evening (I hear nothing but good things about Omaha, I'm excited!).

One last thought . . . I'd like to avoid stereotypes (we all have them) or any mean spiritedness toward people, places or things (verbs are fine to pick on).

In the words of a Mormon children's hymn, "Let us all speak kind words to each other . . ."

See you in Nebraska!