Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Still having trouble getting my thoughts together in a coherent manner, trying to decide what topic to tackle in today’s post, and stick with just one topic. I’m kind of fighting off in my mind some of the meatier topics and am tempted to be a bit lighthearted and frivolous here. Well, why fight it? Lighthearted and frivolous it is!

BJ and I live several hours drive from each other. We both live in the Midwest. Boy, is the Midwest ever a big place! It is also not the most scenic place on earth, what with its flat plains, fields of corn and soybeans, the occasional herd of cattle or sheep. Oh sure, the occasional town pops up on the scenery, usually (but not always) complete with a gas station and restaurant or two at the exit, and they are more plentiful, much more plentiful, than the ones you’ll find in the desert southwest. They are not, however, terribly scenic. The Midwest, as seen from our fine Interstate highway system is boring. It is hour upon hour of boring.

For almost half the drive I was in familiar territory, places I’d been before in my lifetime. After that, it was all new to me, except it looked exactly like it had from where I had come! Nothing new to see. Same fields, same cattle, same silos. Well, I know they were different ones than I had seen before, but they looked all the same, over and over the same scenery repeated itself. It reminded me of movies where you’re watching someone driving in a car and you realize after a while that the scenery you’re seeing in the background through the car’s windows is simply a backdrop of a certain length that keeps scrolling by. That was my drive this past weekend. Hour upon hour of farmland, repeating seemingly infinitely. I’m sure I could have driven a few more hours in the same general direction and seen the same general thing.

The strangest thing about all this? I found it very very comforting. It had all the familiarity in the world to me. It felt good and right. It was reminiscent of those long drives to my grandparents’ house when I was a kid when we would load up the car on a Friday afternoon, drive across the flat Midwestern plains, and hours later arrive for a weekend with Grandma and Grandpa only to pack up on Sunday and drive back home.

There is no trick, other than staying awake, to driving in the Midwest. Get on the interstate, point the car in the right direction, set the cruise control on 75, and go. No mountains to climb, no curves (other than exits) to slow you down. It’s easy driving. It is at times like these that I want to be a trucker, out on the open road, on top of the world, power at my control. Not that I would really want to be a trucker, because I sure don’t want to deal with city traffic in a monster like that, but out on the open road, oh yeah.

There are some mighty fine interstates crisscrossing the Midwest, and I encourage you, if you have a chance sometime, to drive on one or more of them watching the fields pass by, appreciating “flyover country.”


Desmond Jones said...

Well, here in Michigan, we think of ourselves as being in the Midwest. The southern third of the state (at least away from Detroit) is a lot like you describe here, but Up North, and along the shore, it's really quite scenic.

I haven't had much experience driving on the Great Plains - I've driven down to Indy a few times. But I do recall driving down from Chicago to Urbana/Champaign once, and I think the damn road didn't bend even once in three hours. One of the towns - I forget which one - had a grain elevator in it, and we were so grateful to have that grain elevator to look at for a half-hour or so, and not just the twin concrete ribbons stretching to the horizon. . .

Val said...

My oh my, those highways look mighty tempting! If only unleaded wasn't pushing $3/gal...
(Try driving across W TX sometimes if you want to see vast expanses of REALLY wide open spaces ;-)!

The Silent Male said...

Highlighted state is Missouri. I have logged many thousands of miles driving through that state (and never lived there). West Texas, lived there and drove many thousands of miles through those open plains too. I would probably have to do my own post to describe where I like driving best.

The Hopeless Flirt said...

There is a a reason those of us on the coasts call it flyover country. And you just described why.

I had a similar jaunt through South Dakota a number of years ago. I drove for miles with the only curve being a house that apparently out dated the road, and the road went around the house. That was as interesting as the 5 hour drive got. I swore that day never to do it again. I just don't like corn all THAT much :)

D said...

TS - yes it is indeed boring but also beautiful. I was stopped doing 104 but got off any ticket by a) havig an international licence which obviously confused the cop and b) having 60 blown up soccer(footballs) balls in the back of the car which were of more interest to him ;-)

freebird said...

It could hardly be more different from where I live. You daren't blink while driving around here for fear of missing a sharp bend (with walls), a bridge, a one-in-four gradient or even a road-side ravine!

D.... you're weird!

Trueself said...

Des - Ah yes, the Chicago to C-U drive. Trust me it stays the same even south of there for a very long time.

Val - Pushing $3? Ours has been over $3 for a week or so, again.

SM - Actually, Missouri has way more hills than some of the other Midwestern states. Although I suppose some parts of MO are pretty plain.

Flirt - Well, you coastal folk just haven't learned to appreciate the wide open spaces. ;-)

D - Wow, 104. I haven't driven that fast since I was a teen. Gotta admit though that there isn't a better place for it than those straight flat highways.

FB - Well, then, I'll just have to let you do the driving if I ever come visit you! I'm just not used to that type of driving.