Friday, August 24, 2018

Midwestern fields and windmills

We left Mansfield, OH at 7 am today to beat the predicted rain at our destination, Valparaiso, IN and our plans worked - it started raining about 10 minutes after we pulled into my stepmother's garage.

At the beginning of the day we rode through Bucyrus, OH where we were surprised to see a huge, brightly colored 3D mural that dominates the town square while we sat at a stoplight on the old Lincoln Highway that runs through town. Over 80 local citizens posed for the mural painted by Eric Grohe entitled "The Great American Crossroads".

Our route today was basically straight west through the middle of Ohio to the northwestern corner of Indiana, which meant that the majority of the day we were on U.S. Route 30, at 3,073 miles the third-longest U.S. route (after U.S. Route 20 and U.S. Route 6) that stretches from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Astoria, Oregon. Much of Route 30 is also part of the Lincoln Highway dedicated in 1913 that started in Times Square in NYC and ran to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.

Most of the time U.S. 30 was a 4-lane divided highway bordered by flat fields of corn and soybeans. I looked hard to find other types of crops, while Mike kept an eye out for sheriffs and state policemen to avoid being pulled over for speeding.

We followed the Garmin GPS that routed us off the highway to go around major cities, where we spent a few miles winding through small towns. As we headed toward Van Wert, OH, we saw wind turbines that seemed to stretch all the way along the landscape.

They are part of the Blue Creek wind farm with 152 turbines that together provide electricity to power 70,000 homes. We rode by some of the turbines that at about 400' tall (about the height of a 30 story building) tower above even the largest buildings.

We could tell it was windy because Mike was impressed with the way the BMW is composed on a windy day, explaining how the wind protection keeps it from being pushed around the highway by the wind. I could tell it was windy because I had trouble keeping the camera steady to take photos.

About half-way into our 5 hour trip we crossed into Indiana. Mike is the only one in our family who wasn't born in Indiana, and as we rode west I started thinking about all the times I've been through this area and how it's changed in the 27 years since we last lived here. Although there is more industry and buildings than I remember, there are still a lot of corn and soybean fields.

We turned off U.S. 30 in Valparaiso, where I was born, grew up, graduated from high school and returned for college after serving in the Army. We rode through downtown Valpo on Lincolnway, part of the original Lincoln Highway. We loved spending the afternoon and evening with Val, who treated us to a homemade lunch and dinner. Our family is spread throughout the United States, and we're fortunate to be able to visit some of them during our cross-country trip.

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