March 23-28, 2016

Wednesday, March 23
The Nebraska State Line to Missouri Valley, Iowa

    Over the Missouri River into Iowa on US 30 at 2:41. The sky is brighter here in Iowa and I turned off my headlights, brown here instead of yellow.
    The Rath Inn in Missouri Valley, Iowa, at 3:05, temp 43 and extremely windy, odometer 127409. The place is a bit of a dump, small, none of the networks on the TV, electrical wires going into a junction box. But it's warm and clean with a refrigerator and plugs. It rained hard briefly before I went to Arby's for a French dip and the wind stayed high.

Wednesday, March 24
1973: "I was high, feeling good, smile muscles hurting, reaching out and embracing, full of energy."
Missouri Valley, Iowa to the Wisconsin state line
    Up at 8:45, on the road at 9:10, odometer 127411, a little bit of snow on the car, dusting, temp 31, gray sky. $20.50 of $1.939 at a Cenex, blue sky in the west, sun out briefly, cold and windy and bitter, a lot of angry clouds in the east, patches of blue, US 30.
    A yellow Union Pacific caboose in the center of Missouri Valley, a long line of stores, at least 3 traffic lights, nice little town, old two-story houses, a very big grain elevator on the other side of town. Hilly country, the road curves, not your standard Iowa road.
    Logan at 9:35. Iowa 44 east at 9:41, sun in my eyes, pretty cloudy to the east, lot of blue sky to the north and a lot of small clouds, fair amount of naked trees, green grass alongside the road then yellow. 9:53, heading into dark cloud country, the blue skies behind me, farm country, a couple of weathered old barns, Portsmouth with small squat grain silos, a bunch of houses off to my left, a double railroad line. A windmill whirling madly in the wind, yellow fields with some green, rolling hills, dark clouds, lots of metal storage silos. Harlan Iowa and crossing US 59 at 10:04; Kimbleton at 10:25, very small.
    So here I am in Iowa and I'm looking down some distance to farm houses below me and a long vista of rolling hills for miles and miles, the road curving and going up and down, a lot of dirt roads that I initially thought were driveways, plowed land, a nice house on top of a knoll, a farm house with several additions and several barns and sheds.
    Into the hamlet of Hamlin, a shed or something lying almost completely on the ground, crossing US 71. A big white barn, an old plow in front of it, rolls of hay alongside the road, yellow rolling country to my left, plowed country to my right, rolling hills with woods on them, like being in New England in some ways, a windmill moving slowly, another not moving at all, pleasant country.
    Into Guthrie Center at 10:58, passing the site of mud bog races. A red brick bank with white columns inset into the brick, another the other way round, light brick with dark brick outlining it, yellow fallow land here, plowed land there.
    Panora at 11:03, a lot of red brick square buildings rising up two stories or even three, most of them though only one, brick buildings, dark red, orange, a large gray house, two stories with gables on the third story, a dark yellow house, these houses would fit in New England without any trouble. Dallas County at 11:13, glowering Midwest clouds, now flat everywhere, road going straight, brown plowed fields on either side of the road, lots of naked trees. Past a big unpainted building of some distance, far from any other building, a white painted building with machinery inside. Houses on either side of the road, surrounded by trees,
    Into Adel at 10:30, temp 31. I had a great cheap steak & eggs at a restaurant there years ago but that restaurant doesn't seem to be there any more so now it's US 6 east. The town of Waukee at 11:50.

The Abel Courthouse

I-80 east, I-35 north at noon. Crossing the Des Moines River, still overcast but some delineation of clouds, not just flat gray. I-35 north to Minneapolis at 12:11. Ames, Iowa, and Nevada, Iowa, at 12:48, some little patches of blue in the cloud cover again. 4:05, pulled into a rest stop, fell asleep, dreamed, don't remember the dream but it was a good one. The clouds have come in again.
    I-20 east at 1:25, temp 34, still a super highway with a grass median, blue patches in the clouds again to the north but not to the south. Flatland, plowed fields, fallow fields, Wasa at 1:39. Off at Steamboat Rock at 1:45 to rest my eyes again, back on at 1:56, blue sky gone. Over the Iowa River at 2:00. Into Grundy County at 2:04, 3 power windmills off to my right turning very slowly, like Imogene Coca. Black Hawk County at 2:25, temp a balmy 33, yellowish-brown fields on either side, glowering skies. Dry Run Creek, the exit to Cedar Falls and the University of Northern Iowa.
    US 20 merges with I-380 at 2:35 near Dubuque, s large river nearby, at 2:40 380 ends south, 20 heads east, brown ground on either side.
    $24 of $1.999 gas at Manchester Iowa. Dyersville and The Field of Dreams at 3:35. 3:45, just passed Farley and coming up on Epworth, US 20 still a divided highway with a grass median but roads come into it. 3:59, stopped at a stoplight, which I haven't seen for quite some time, lined with businesses of various kind, Lowe's, Walmart, a car dealer, a Baymont Hotel, like so much of US 1 in the East. Big sign in Dubuque: Trump Make America Great Again; then it flashed to something else, about Cost Cutters.
    Joined by US 151 north at 4:05, Herbst Upholstery, over the Mississippi River at 4:10 into Wisconsin.

Wednesday, March 24
In 1960, Fairchild Publications hired me.
Iowa state line to Madison, Wisconsin
    Over the Mississippi River at 4:10 into Wisconsin. Cross Traffic Next 78 Miles. 80 miles to Madison. The Little Platte River, a creek really, meandering through a meadow, a big rock cut with layers of dark gray and yellow rock, another cut of just orange rock, hill country, a few houses alongside the road, some with their roofs dusted with snow, a little snow alongside the road, a trailer park. The median now has a little snow in the middle, some of the trees and bushes and grass have ice on them. 20 miles from Madison, the road is now wet and we’ve been joined by US 18. The sun is breaking through to the west as we come to a screeching stop at 5:25. Despite the sun, a few snow flakes are coming down. Down to one lane and everything is suddenly clear as a car is towed away. At 5:38, US 151 and US 16 are joined by two other US highways. Super 8 in Madison around 6:00, odometer 127858. A mushroom omelet at Perkins next door. I was going to go to an open mike here but I’m exhausted and it was just too complicated to get there.

Wednesday, March 25
In 1969, I rolled the Renault Caravelle
Madison, Wisconsin to the Illinois line
    Didn't get a lot of sleep last night. Didn't go to sleep until 1:30, woke up at 3:30, took a while to go back to sleep, then slept an hour or two until 7:00, dozed till about 7:30. Coffee, apple juice, cereal, 2 slices of toast, raspberry yogurt, banana at the motel. Quite cold but no wind so it feels pretty good, everything is melting, a clear blue sky. On to US 12, US 151, US 14, US 18 heading east at 9:40, temp 38, odometer 127858, then to I-39 south and I-90 east to Chicago, which I will be skipping. A couple of ducks coming in for a landing. Icy crystalline branches glittering in the sun. The road is dry . . . mostly. Into Illinois at 10:30.