Yes, that’s right, I was on a pretty extensive tour of the Great Midwest for the two weeks before Christmas.
You may be thinking that there’s not much I could tell you about driving through six midwestern states (or maybe 4- According to the map I found, Tennessee and Kentucky aren’t part of the Midwest? (Side note: People in the South don’t seem to realize that Michigan is part of the Midwest, but it is. I think Michigan and Wisconsin should be considered the Great Mid-North, but that’s just my opinion.)), and you may even be right.
But I had to drive over 30 hours through the midwest, so you can certainly handle a few of my reflections on it.
Quick synopsis: I drove 12 hours south through Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky to arrive at my twin sister’s place in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. I spent 6 days there and then drove 9 hours northwest through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri to arrive in Warrensburg to speak at a Blue Christmas service and spend 6 days visiting friends (and mainly my boyfriend). I then drove 10 hours northeast through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan to my sister, Juli’s house in Battle Creek. I spent the following morning watching my 1-year-old nephew before driving 1.5 hours south again to pick my grandpa up in southern Michigan, and then finally drove 4 more hours north to my home in Northern Michigan.
Observations from the journey:
First Leg (Michigan-Indiana-Kentucky-Tennessee)
-In Indiana was shocked to see a landfill with a very beautiful and elaborate sign reading “______ County Landfill” (I don’t remember the name of the county). I didn’t realize that landfills are something to be proud of…?
-Somewhere in Indiana or Kentucky I saw a sign outside a forest that said, “These trees grew 9% last year.” I found this pretty interesting, but wished I knew what average growth for trees is. Is 9% good or bad growth?
-Somewhere on this leg I also saw a sign that said “Recession 101: Self-worth beats net-worth.” This made me smile, because I’ve been unemployed for half of this year- causing both my self-worth and net-worth to plummet at remarkable speed.
-I noticed a significant decrease in rest areas after leaving Michigan, and have to say that my home state does rest areas better than almost any state I’ve driven through. I’d say there are typically rest areas almost every 30-60 miles. I’m proud to say I’ve probably stopped at every rest area on Michigan’s West Coast.
-Gas fortunately got less and less expensive as I drove south.
Second leg of the journey (Tennessee-Kentucky-Illinois-Missouri)
-This leg was pretty uneventful.
-Biggest thing I noticed was the plethora of “Adult” stores and Strip Clubs in Missouri. Not sure why that is, but can I just take this chance to say that “Gentleman’s Club” is one of the most ridiculous and infuriating misnomers of our time? Really? Changing the name to “Gentleman” makes you feel better about yourself going in there?
Last leg of the journey (Missouri-Illinois-Indiana-Michigan)
-So one of the mixed blessings in driving from Missouri to Michigan is that the way my GPS takes me leads me off of the freeway for about three hours. I always enjoy this break of scenery through beautiful old barns and farmhouses. However, as a recovering road rage-er, I consistently relapse at this point due to the country folk driving 10mph under the speed limit. I almost lose it every time I enter a town in which the speed limit lowers and the person in front of me (who is already going the lower speed limit) has the audacity to slow down even further!
-I also dread this leg of the journey because of the long stretches without somewhere to stop- which is exacerbated by Ma and Pa Farmers ahead of me driving 35mph in a 45. As someone with overactive bladder, at least I can laugh at the random places I’ve either had to stop and go by the side of the road (like the time I was with Melissa Pogue on my way to Michigan for Applefest and we saw a sign that said “roadside park” which made me very happy, but ended up having only picnic tables and no bathroom-who does that?- which made me very upset, so Mel pulled over and I went right there next to the car in the pouring rain) or beg some overly restrictive shop owner to let me use his private bathroom (like the time one of my sister’s male friends who I hardly knew was giving me a ride to Columbus and I spent 5 minutes telling a man that if he didn’t let me use his “employee’s only” restroom he was going to have a mess to clean up). Right…so anyway…
-I love the “values” billboards in Michigan (maybe other states have them too). You know, the ones that say things like “Climbed Mount Everest. Blind. Vision. Pass it on.” and has a picture of Erik Weihenmayer. But I have to confess I’m always disturbed by the one that says, “Helped Injured Opponent Win. Sportsmanship. Pass it on.” and has a picture of two members of one team carrying an injured player of the other team- because I just think the injured player should sit out and the game should go on. I mean, it’s not poor sportsmanship to be competitive. Injury is part of the game.
-I saw one sign advertising permanent false teeth outside of Chicago that read, “Don’t die with your teeth in a glass.” Really? That’s your marketing slogan?
-I was very relieved to see that the last leg of my journey involved snow. There’s a section of Michigan we call the Snow Belt that typically gets the most snow, and it didn’t let me down this year.