We overnighted in Yankton, South Dakota, close to the bottom left corner of that state. The troops had a good night’s sleep and were up and packed for an early start. This was going to be our longest drive yet since we decided not to stop again before getting to our friend Amy’s house, near Chicago. We planned to drive into the night, as long as it took, and we had an E.T.A of around midnight.
On arriving in Iowa, we noticed that large areas of Sioux City were underwater due to flooding of the Missouri River. There are dams upstream which the Army Corps of Engineers say they were forced to spill water from, due to unprecedented snow and rain. Sioux City and Dakota Dunes as well as other areas downstream have apparently been underwater for a couple of months.
Sioux City was a blip on the radar as we rumbled along. Our RV seems to be in great shape and the engine purrs as we break free from the city and the interstate freeway, and out onto smaller country roads through seemingly endless corn fields. The US produces over 332 million metric tons of corn a year – that’s more than any other country in the world, and more than twice as much as China, the next largest grower. 40% of all that corn is used to make corn ethanol, used as a fuel additive. If we ever saw a farm not growing corn, it was usually soy beans.
Charles Kuralt once said:
Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.
We chose our route through Iowa because it looked to be a backroad, however many sections of Route 20 were actually freeway-like conditions. We have found that you don’t loose much time by traveling off the interstates, and the backroads are much more interesting. The interstates are cluttered with billboards, trucks, cars, RVs, and bad food options. On the backroads we see more of the real America, more local people, less tourists, and more interesting sights. So as much as possible that will be our M.O, although there will always be some times when we need to revert to the interstates for some reason.
Iowa farmalnd scenery was great, but it didn’t seem to change much, and it took a long time to cross the state. At the Illinois border, we crossed over the Mississippi River. The scenery seemed to become more varied. We were amazed at the number of motor cycle riders in Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois that ride with no helmet. This is common in many states, but we are not used to it. I don’t think I would have the guts to do that even though it probably feels a lot freer.
Near Rockford Illinois we found a cute historic town called Cherry Valley, where we had dinner in a local diner. We got the kids into their PJ’s and lowered the shades, hit I-90 for the long drive into the night. The kids soon fell asleep, as we negotiated the many tolls, cramped freeways, and sketchy drivers in greater Chicago. After 620 miles and over 11 hours of actual driving time not including meal breaks, it was a long day just as expected, we had been in five states today:
– South Dakota
We finally arrived after midnight at Amy’s lake house in a little village called Union Pier, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Michigan. But more on that later. Here are some pictures from today:
Flowers by the roadside, I think this is known as a yellow cone flower, a native wildflower.