Last Sunday, after church, the First Family (used somewhat by other denominations to describe the pastor's spouse and kids, I love this term so I use it often, tongue in cheek of course) and I packed up the van (the same old van with a newer engine) and headed to the motherland, WV. It was a long drive, how long, somewhere along the lines of 18-20 hours. This was our first east and south trip, we had no idea what to expect or what that part of the country looked liked.
To my surprise Wisconsin is a pretty cool looking state: knobby, pretty farmland, lots of trouty looking areas, lots of neat rocks sticking up. I'm not ready, yet, to take back the proposed rivalry Minnesotans should have with Wisconsin but this may soon fade and shift to Iowa. I knew I was in the midst of blue-blooded Americans when I saw a sign for the next exit proclaiming to have it all: Cheese, Liquor, Bait, Diesel. As we began to turned towards Illinois we passed through Janesville, Wi. I kept trying to come up with a clever observation that the town square looked a lot like his tax proposal: city limits well defined but nothing inside of them. But nothing emerged along those lines. oh well.
We made it to the corn state sometime that night, got a room, and slept as long as the kids and the morning sun would let us. Coffee was hard to come by, oh there was coffee to be bought but nothing that I would consider "coffee", it had caffeine so we took it. The drive through Illinois took an inordinate amount of time, after hours of staring at rows of corn I have this to say. Dear Middle American farmers: I and most of the people I know only need, at most, 4 dozen ears of corn a year. A little more for corn bread, the occasional bowl of corn flakes, enough for those corn flake chocolate clusters, and grits. That's about it. It would be helpful for me, for humanity, for cows and pigs, and the planet if you could grow a more diverse selection of crops. The Land of Lincoln was redeemed by the presence of a Culver's, how did they know that I love frozen custard?
Indiana, did we even drive through Indiana? I guess we did. Oh yeah, never listen to the kids who work at Dunkin Donuts who offer directions. On the outskirts of Indianapolis we pulled into a Dunkin Donuts for some coffee, and donuts. (The First Lady has labeled me the most boring man in America when I go to a donut shop and order a black cup of coffee and an old fashioned plain donut. I see nothing wrong with that.) Anyway, I asked the girl behind the counter if it was quicker to shot through Indianapolis or should we take the loop around. She suggested the loop around because of the traffic (It was 3pm on a Monday in Indianapolis). I shot through with no problems. While we breezed through I saw the new Colts stadium. What an artifice of brick and mortar. I bet a building has not been built out of that much brick since the 20s. The retractable roof reminded me of flying buttresses, but a steeple on that thing and you have a Protestant Barn. I thought it was the most impressive football stadium I've ever seen.
Next was Ohio. We were welcomed at the welcome center to closed rest rooms, when we pulled over at the next exit we were welcomed by re-elect John Boehner signs (no fear, Democrat jokes will be forthcoming in another blog post). Traveling through Ohio is always a sketchy venture for every West Virginian knows that Ohioans cannot drive. It is always an accomplishment to make unscathed. Ohio produced the best political sign of the trip: Lawless for Sheriff.
West Virginia was great: sausage biscuits and gravy every morning for breakfast, family time, and more family time.
We headed back on Friday morning, early. We passed through Ohio. Indiana looked better this time around. We planned on grabbing a bite to eat and letting the kids stretch their legs in Richmond at Earlham College but it was raining. But we did find some clever election signs with a mustache on them, the dude is a Democrat running for governor, does anyone win when they make facial hair their symbol? Indianapolis looked even more charming. Illinois, still too much corn. And Wisconsin was even better. We stopped by Madison for the Farmer's Market. While we walked around I found an antique apple stand. They were selling Grimes Golden. Grimes Golden, the apples of my youth. Every bite took me back 25 years. Beautiful. But I'm not done with Wisconsin. Later we made our last stop at a rest area, in Wisconsin. They had a hiking trail at the rest area with a beautiful overlook.
All in all it was a great trip, although we spent more time in the mystery van than we did in WV. Did I mention that while in WV my first Minnesota based Op-Ed ran in MinnPost? Well it did. Here it is if you think I'm foolin' ya. Passing the Marriage Amendment Would Unravel the Core Fiber of Minnesota's Civil Compact.