Day two. I was on a road trip that was taking me through an expanse of land measuring the distance of the United States from one coast to the other– twice. And I was on day two.
S and I began driving away from Madison, Wisconsin at 10:15AM on May 28, 2012, heading to Mitchell, South Dakota. It was a 497 mile journey that Google Maps says should take a person 8 hours and 21 minutes to drive. Why doesn’t Google factor in other things like a human’s need to eat and then expend that waste? Or trailers being tossed about in the wind, slowing the driver down that is towing it? Or puppies? Why are we not in that era of figuring true travel times yet? People own phones that have artificial intelligence in them but I can’t factor in reality to my travel times on Google maps? Oh well, maybe someday…
Our time in Madison had been interesting, but I was excited to get back on the road and knock another few miles off the trip. S and I had been focused on so many other things for so long and had not paid any attention to one another really, that when Callie fell asleep the night before, we took the opportunity to be intimate. Doing so with a child in the room may be mentally damaging for the child, doing so with a puppy in the room may be mentally damaging for its owners. Especially when the puppy wakes up and starts crying that loud, ear-piercing cry that only puppies can do and then starts licking your foot that’s hanging off the bed. The morning of May 28, S and I attempted to finish getting ready and pack before Callie woke up. She woke up as we were packing and wanted to jump off the bed, which was about 2 1/2 feet tall. I kept helping her down and then she’d want back up and this went on for a few minutes before S said, “Just let her jump down herself, she’ll be fine.” I thought it was too high and she would get hurt, but he insisted so we could finish getting things together and leave. A minute later…Callie jumped off the bed and landed on her front right leg the wrong way, laid down on the ground crying like she’d just been hit by a car. Me, a new “mom,” was horrified and thought she was instantly going to die. S, a rational puppy owner, ran over, calmed her down, squeezed her leg from top to paw without a squeak from Callie. She limped a little but fell asleep quickly in the car and it never bothered her again. After that, I couldn’t imagine how my mom felt when she heard me screaming my head off after slamming my head (with a helmet on) into a curb and fracturing my arm after a bike crash when I was 10. I think I’ll just have to make my kids live in a bubble when I have them.
Driving through the rest of Wisconsin, I considered the drive the day prior. In Michigan, S and I were able to go 70-75mph and I felt like we were making really good time. When we hit the toll roads in Indiana, half of it was 55mph and many parts of it were 35-45mph. It was extremely irritating to PAY to be on a road we had to drive much slower on. As soon as S and I got off the toll road, the speed limit on I-90W was 65mph.
Having to pay attention because I was driving made me see the beautiful sights in Wisconsin…as well as so many other places. As a child, I was a passenger on 7 round trip cross country road trips from Beale AFB, CA to Somerset, KY. My mom always drove with no assistance and changed the route each year (there are 3 different routes to take). However, I either was sleeping or reading on all of those trips, so I was definitely getting the full experience for the first time during this road trip. I was pleasantly surprised by some rock formations in Wisconsin as well as many lakes I didn’t think would be there. We crossed the border into Minnesota at 1:22PM and it reminded me SO much of Kentucky. I kind of started to miss home and family looking at the rock that had been blown away to make the highway and you could see all the layers and history of the land. I’m sure the foliage was different, but there was a similarity that made me think of listening to the locusts’ buzzing on a hot Kentucky day.
The speed limit as soon as we crossed the Wisconsin border went up to 70mph (hadn’t had that since Michigan) and I was hoping we would go back to making good time. Unfortunately, the rolling hills from southeast Minnesota didn’t last for long and S and I found ourselves driving through the plains, with strong winds blowing the U-Haul trailer he was towing back and forth. He could absolutely not go any faster than 70mph and usually didn’t even make it up to that. However, as soon as I began to get irritated with how slow we going, we passed Rochester, Minnesota and began seeing electrical wind farms. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding these, but I find them fascinating. It is always in the middle of nowhere that you run upon these seemingly-futuristic “farms” and it always makes me feel like I’m on another planet. Could you imagine Gus and Woodrow (from “Lonesome Dove”) herding their cattle up to Montana running into such a thing as a wind farm?
May 28 in Minnesota was 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) and sunny with beautiful, puffy, white clouds floating through an incredibly blue sky…all covering LOTS of flat land. Yes, “find the beauty in everything.” The plains ARE beautiful, however there is definitely a reason they are called the ‘plains.’ If you would like to argue language, we may, but it’s something I have to point out. After a few hours in Minnesota, I did begin to yearn for the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range on the West Coast that we would be able to see on our way to Seattle, WA. I am, and always have been, a mountain girl at heart. I do find the beauty in Minnesota, but it is not something I yearn for.
As S and I drove into South Dakota and the wind became even worse against our vehicles, I wondered if it was always like that or if it was a seasonal thing? No matter for me though, because we were in Mitchell and I would finally get to sleep again. The next day would be a short drive to Rapid City and I would get to experience another first in my relationship with S– seeing Mount Rushmore!