Sunday, July 22, 2012

Midwest travels

We traveled over 1600 miles on our way to the BMW rally in Sedalia, MO and saw only a handful of motorcycles along the way. Today we passed several BMW riders, and rode for an hour or so with four guys from the Chicago area. It's a small world:  one of the guys has a friend in Vermont, and he's been through Rutland just north of our home in Manchester. Another guy travels through Valpo, IN for business. I grew up in Valpo, and that's where we headed today. We had fun speeding along the flat highway among fields of corn and soy beans and through small towns with the other riders until they pulled off for breakfast, and we continued on our way.

We crossed the Mississippi River in Louisiana, MO riding over a beautiful 2-lane, 5-span truss bridge built in 1928.

Once into Illinois, we rode through more flat farmland, reminding me of my cousins' farm in NW Indiana. It's mesmorizing to watch miles of flat fields that stretch to the horizon pass by, broken periodically by a solitary farmhouse, a row of trees along a creek, or massive grain elevators. It was somewhat shocking to suddenly see hundreds of windmills - technically called  wind turbines - near Bloomington and Normal, IL. This is the largest wind farm project in Illinois, and it produces enough power for 54,000 homes each year.

As we rode closer to Chicago the traffic increased. I grew up in northwest Indiana, close to Chicago, and I always forget just how congested the roads are in this part of the country. It was stop and go the entire way on Route 30 through Chicago Heights, Dyer, and Merrillville; and there was more traffic than I remember as we neared Valpo. Every time I drive here I get confused about where I am; not really lost, but my landmarks are either gone completely or updated so they're not recognizable.

We rode through farmland and cities in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana today on our first day headed East. Four more states and a lot more miles are in front of us before we finish the trip on Tuesday.


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