01 September 2009

Days 3-4 :: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, & Pennsylvania

Here we are…in A LOT of corn. When I mentioned in my last post that we were not surprised Nebraska is the Cornhusker state given its abundance of corn stalks, it was only because we had not yet driven through Iowa and Illinois, and Indiana and every other state that is consumed by kernels. In the past few days we have driven through not only a lot of corn, we have also discovered the highway robbery that is tollbooths. Being a West Coast girl, I have never had to stop at one of these lovely little “toll plazas” (do they think that sounds nicer or something?) and pay to drive on a road until now. And let me just say, it is a bit more confusing than I ever thought it would be. For example, who knew that in addition to knowing and having the exact amount you will need to get on and off the freeway, you also need to have it in change. Really? I mean who actually drives around with nine dollars in change in their car? I guess people on the East Coast.

On Monday, we drove from Nebraska to Illinois, crossing through Iowa on our way. The drive was pretty typical, but when we stopped for lunch we somehow found our way to Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa. As we drove in, to what we thought was going to be a Subway on the side of the road, we were greeted by college students everywhere… they replaced all the corn we had been seeing. This college town made Adrienne and I nostalgic for our own college days that ended not to long ago. And it kind of freaked us out to think that we were older (albeit, not by much) than all the students wandering around the town…is this what it feels like to grow up? Nevertheless, we made it out of Hawkeye territory and continued on to Chicago.

Chicago on the other hand, was NOT the quaint little place Iowa City had been. As we entered the city, we entered into the most confusing freeway construction I have ever had to drive in. Not only that, but there were tollbooths everywhere. The drivers were definitely not as nice as Portland drivers, and by the time we finally made it to the hotel (after accidently blowing off two tolls) my hands were shaking and my heart was racing. You would think that would be it though, right? After checking into the hotel, we somehow thought it would be fun to go downtown for authentic Chicago pizza – through the construction and tolls, but at night this time. It was not our smartest idea, but in the end we made it to this really cool restaurant called Giordano’s and had some truly amazing food. We even splurged and got tiramisu for dessert.

Tuesday was another pretty uneventful drive to Pittsburgh, by way of Indiana and Ohio. We did get to cross over the Mississippi River which was awesome, but other than that it was just a lot more of the same landscape. Don’t get me wrong, beautiful (corn-filled, of course) landscape, but by our second to last day of driving we were ready for a change of scenery. And once we got into Pennsylvania we did see some change. The mountainous and lush East Coast seemed to open out of the flat and arid middle-of-the-country like an oasis in the desert. Suddenly we were out of the corn and driving under tall, green trees arching over the highway. It was a much-needed change of pace and we were grateful to be reminded of the West Coast as we entered the last day of driving.

See you tomorrow…in DC!!!

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