Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1,024 Miles

Musings en route, Chicago to Nashville …

Indiana is one long state—or maybe we’re just too old for long-distance driving. Route 65 the length of Indiana, the width of Kentucky, and part-way into Tennessee makes everything easy but the actual mileage. It’s a smooth highway with clear signage, clean rest stops, courteous, orderly driving (people drive in the right lane, pass in the left, then move to the right, unlike Illinois, where drivers stay in the passing lane), reassuring police presence, and friendly fellow travelers. Sights along Route 65 were mostly rural: bare brown, tan, and gray fields stretching to the horizon like wall-to-wall carpets. Great expanses spanned between gray, weather-worn barns. Scattered across fields were irrigation devices looking like giant gray, metallic caterpillars someone had crafted from an Erector Set. Many flat, black fields with tawny corn stubble resembled bristly welcome mats you scrape your muddy boots on.

We saw very little advertising, which was nice. Here are several examples of advertising we did see. Two black and white Holstein statues perched on a shiny stainless steel cylindrical tank car sporting the sign “We’ve got milk and moooore ; We dairy you to exit  at 22C.” A little later on, more cows double-dairied us to exit at 22C. The cheese-tasting establishment at exit 22C looked well-attended, so apparently punning bovine advertising mooooves customers to action. On our way south, we spotted a black billboard with huge white letters: HELL IS REAL. It wasn’t until we came back north five days later that the billboard gave us the solution to the problem; on the back of the HELL message was JESUS IS REAL. Faded Stuckeys billboards often had panels blown out by wind. We didn’t see any actual Stuckeys restaurants.

As we approached Indianapolis, Louisville, and Nashville skylines, silos and water towers on stilts gave way to cell towers and skyscrapers. The most fascinating roadside sight for us was the wind farm north of Lafayette, Indiana. As far as the eye could see, tall, white, triple-propeller turbines twirled. I smiled to think of the blades as a clock’s second, minute, and hour hands chasing each other. Like chasing the wind, or chasing someone in a different wedge of a revolving door, “catching up” is impossible. Normally, the frenzy of trying to catch up frustrates me, so the fact that the turbine metaphor made me smile is a good sign I was on vacation (!!!) with nothing to catch up on. Except for the distances, our drives to and from Nashville were moooovelous.

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