Tuesday, August 28, 2012

East of the Mississippi

Christopher and I left Nebraska bright and early. We passed a little though Omaha which is a tiny city. Although we drove through the city at eight in the morning, the rush hour traffic was laughable compared to California traffic.
Omaha is on the edge of a river which borders Iowa.  Although I am a California city girl who is more familiar with malls than with farms and freeways more than dirt roads, I found Iowa completely enchanting. There were countless rolling hills of cornfields. There were gorgeous forests and flowing rivers. There were farmhouses and barns that would not have looked out of place one hundred years ago. It was a beautiful countryside I would love to explore a little more.
Christopher and I breakfasted late at a little diner in West Des Moines near several of the colleges. The diner was attached to a hotel and was made to resemble a 1950’s diner. There were pictures of musicians and records throughout the restaurant. Each booth had a theme and the waitress led us to the Beatles themed booth (completely unintentional I assure you).We also stopped for gas where the 89 gas was actually twenty cents cheaper than the 87 gas.  When we asked the attendant his response was “Because it’s Iowa”. The 89 gas actually has more ethanol in it which is readily available in Iowa because of all the cornfields.
We were soon on the road and decided to do a little antiquing in Davenport. I had heard much about antiquing in the Midwest and was eager to see if the rumors were true. Davenport is small city in Iowa next to the Mississippi River. Davenport was in word adorable. The buildings near the Mississippi are all from the turn-of-the-century and much of the original architecture has been preserved. The antique store we explored coincidentally was one the largest in the country and housed nearly 250,000 antiques. Christopher and I discovered many, many treasures. I was tempted to buy a globe from 1910 while Christopher nearly purchased a trombone from 1955 and euphonium.  Although we did not buy any of these finds, I did purchase my mom a little present!
I was probably a little too excited about crossing the Mississippi River. In history, literature and music the Mississippi River is what divides the East from the West. This was an exciting moment in our trip for this is when we truly entered the Eastern United States.  The Mississippi River, although we saw little, was magnificent. It was much larger than Christopher and I imagined, even at this Northern sliver.
After passing over the Mississippi, we were immediately in Illinois. Northern Illinois is quite similar to Iowa, however it is more industrialized. While Iowans seemed to prefer more old-fashioned methods of farming (or at least from what we could see), Illinois farmers appeared to prefer warehouses, railroads and factories. Our cabin was in Union, about an hour north from Chicago.  We decided to to tackle Chicago in the morning and stayed nearby our campsite. If you are ever in that part of Illinois, never, ever, EVER drive on Highway 20 if you can avoid it. Within a mile or two we dubbed it the “honey badger” highway. If you do not understand what I mean by this reference watch this video. Be warned that there is quite a bit of language.

Chicago here we come!

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