Your Pal Bill

Upper Midwest

Last weekend I made a too-quick trip through the upper midwest to bag several new states to add to my growing list. I departed PDX at 1 o'clock in the morning on Saturday, First Class (thank goodness) to Minneapolis, where I caught a connecting flight to Des Moines, where I would rent the car and begin my adventures. The first new state I visited was, of course, Iowa (state 35). I was warned on the MSP-DSM flight by a very sunburned, depressing local not to head south due to some huge race. Luckily, my plan all along was to go west, young man, through the plains of Iowa to the... uh, plains of Nebraska (36)! I hit Omaha in time to visit and wander around a surprisingly pleasant, lively market district downtown. I had a couple a of tasty slices at a local pizza joint for lunch before heading north.

I stayed on some 2-lane highways on the Nebraska side of the Missouri before cutting back across into Iowa just south of Sioux City. Just past Sioux City, I entered South Dakota (37). Unfortunately I didn't have the time this trip to visit some of the more famous sites in South Dakota, so, a few stops aside, I arrived in North Dakota (38) pretty quickly. I had planned to arrive in Fargo to spend the night, and I made it. I don't recommend that kind of schedule on top of a mid-con redeye.

I secured lodging for the night and chilled out for a bit before heading out and experiencing all that Fargo had to offer. Which is to say, not a lot. I was surprised to be driving along downtown and all of a sudden find myself in Minnesota. Moorhead is right across the Red River from Fargo.

The next morning I set back out over the Red River and across northern Minnesota. I had lunch in Duluth, where I again found myself surprised at how lovely the city was. The downtown area is on a hill overlooking lake Superior. In some ways it reminded me of a little Seattle. They have a large, wonderful lakefront park. I crossed over into Superior, Wisconsin and begun my way across the northern tier of that state until I reached the upper peninula of Michigan (39). I drove there briefly and stopped for a bit before the road turned back into Wisconsin.

I headed south and arrived at Madison for the night. I had wanted to stay at a hostel, but arrived too late to check in, so I found a hotel instead. I went downtown and walked around the capitol, State Street and near the university campus. I had dinner on State Street. I found Madison to be more urban than I expected, and the street grid to be a little more confusing on the ground that it seems on maps. It was also pretty quiet, although I suppose being a Sunday night in the summer contributed to that.

The next morning I got another early start and drove due south into Illinois (40), and over toward the Quad Cities. I visited a small visitor's center/museum in Rock Island, Illinois before heading over for lunch in Davenport, Iowa. I drove across the half of Iowa I missed on my first day of the trip (not too different) back to Des Moines, where I had a little time to kill driving aroud (not too bad) before heading back to catch my flight back. But not before the otherwise perfectly nice, very thorough Iowan TSA agent took his time going through every possible cranny of my luggage. I had been (un)fortunate enough to get the dreaded SSSS on my boarding pass. However I had better luck as I again obtained a seat in the front of the plane from Minneapolis to Portland.

This trip was fun but probably at least a day too short. I had figured it would have been like my state-collecting road trip last year, but I really pushed it too much this time.

August 09, 2005 05:16 PM

Comments (3)

12/08: kelley said:

dude, i'm sorry. but i don't think the u.p. counts.

12/08: Bill said:

ha ha

Yes, I was fretting about Michigan when I finally realized that the u.p. existed and would technically count as a part of the state.

I've been to DTW a few times too so I'm not too worried about it.

02/14: Trevor said:

Wow ... you're a once per *six months* blogger now? Post post post!

Love 'n' Hugs,