On the Road Again—California to Kalamazoo Part 4

Day 4 of our epic journey was planned as the shortest of our outbound trip. But because we fell shy of our planned stopping points on days 2 and 3, it turned out to be the longest of the four legs covering more than 600 miles.

The graphic below pretty much tells the story. We started out in Omaha at 9 a.m. and 12.5 hours later arrived at the Red Roof Inn in Kalamazoo after passing through 5 states.

They included Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois. Indiana and Michigan. After the flat fields of Nebraska we hit the rolling meadows and small hills of Iowa. The large irrigation machines of Nebraska gave way to perfect farmlands with apparently no irrigation needed. The photo below is typical of the landscape. We did not pass the famous “Field of Dreams,” which was hundreds of miles away but any cornfield along I-80 or elsewhere could have fit the bill.

We had numerous Lincoln sightings enroute including the white Continental we used at the top of our post.

Is this heaven? No it’s Iowa!

I know the mosquitos are big back east, but this is ridiculous! (just kidding.) This is a praying mantis—menacing looking but harmless to humans.

One surprising development was running into fields of commercial wind turbines at several locations such as Walnut, IA. We learned they supply about 30% of Iowa’s power needs.

The size of the blades is astounding. Check out the scale of the standing blade at left, compared to trucks and RVs parked at the base!

On day 2 after leaving Fairplay, CO, we spotted two giant flatbed trucks with turbine blades lying on their sides. They extended way past the end of the trucks, requiring Oversize Load warnings. At the time we couldn’t imagine what they doing there, but maybe they were on their way to Iowa, just as we were.

As we headed further east we encountered more windmills in Grinnell, IA, and made a rest stop there. It was nearly lunch time and the attendant there directed us to Amana Colonies, a National Historic Landmark site that had been settled by German immigrants fleeing persecution. They established a 19th century utopian community where all work and benefits were shared. The Great Depression in 1932 spelled the end of the shared social structure but the 7 villages remain today as a glimpse into history and Germanic culture. We had a great lunch there of schnitzel and rouladen and then returned to the 21st century to continue our journey.

California residents would characterize this place as a sort of German Solvang.

Entering Illinois the terrain changed from rolling hills to pancake flat. Our route took us across northern Illinois south of Chicago. The map showed proximity to Lake Michigan and we hoped to get a glimpse of it or maybe Chicago in the distance, but it was not to be. A dreadful accident where a car plowed into the back end of a truck during rush hour on the westbound freeway backed up traffic for miles on both sides. See below.

We finally made it past there, into Indiana and ultimately into Michigan as the sun set. Journey’s end was near and we couldn’t wait to get there. Our phone navigator guided us safely into Kalamazoo at around 9:30 p.m. and you’d think our troubles were over. But in fact they were just beginning. The Sheraton Four Points was fully booked and we diverted to the neighboring Red Roof Inn for just one night. All nearby restaurants were closed and we luckily located a Mexican place that had just closed its doors but took pity on us and fixed to-go plates that we brought back to our room in the newly remodeled hotel.

However, we likely were the first guests to be booked in the new wing which really needed a shakedown before being occupied. It didn’t happen. We were the beta testers. Ugh!

At first we couldn’t log into the Internet, which is why yesterday’s post was cut short. The room phone was dead so we could not reach the front desk for help. I took the cell phone there for assistance and as soon as I walked in the lobby it picked up the signal. Apparently their wi-fi network only extended a short distance and not far enough to reach our room with a good signal. Strike one.

The room had bright LED lights on either timers or motion sensors. In the early a.m. as we were sound asleep the main light for the room blasted on with the intensity of a solar flare. Yikes!!!! JIm turned it off and we fell back to sleep. Later it went on again. I turned it off. Apparently this happened a few more times, but I was dead to the world. Strike two.

In the morning both of us noticed the floor seemed wet all over. Apparently in their zeal to get these fire-damaged rooms back online, the management failed to install a moisture barrier between the concrete slab and the vinyl tile on top. Condensation was forming on the whole floor surface which was not only unpleasant, but also posed a serious slipping hazard. We had to do a shuffle boogie with a towel under foot from the bathroom to another location to put on socks and shoes. Strike three.

And finally, adding insult to injury, there was no hair dryer in the room. So much for a nice hot shower!

Well, at least we are here Check Engine light and all after more than 2.200 miles of driving. What next?!!!!

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