Here's how we really knew we were in Wisconsin: the randomly lettered roads. Wisconsin's many counties have many, many, funny lettered county trunk highways . When we saw this road sign, even though we'd been in Wisconsin for several miles, we really felt that We'd Arrived.
The great westward migration went pretty well-- we arrived last night [Thursday] and are ok but tired, and, also, excited to be here. I cursed at the traffic for almost the entire state of Illinois, and Mr. Paideia drove through some brief but torrential thunderstorms in Pennsylvania, but otherwise the trip was uneventful and generally pleasant. Phoebe was really a good sport; she meowed for the first twenty minutes or so, then settled down, realized she was in for the long haul, and generally went to sleep in her carrier [which had water and a little bed for her], or looked out the window. On the second day we set her up carefully so that she could look out the front seat from between us:
In general, although we took a few pictures from the road, I took a lot of pictures of Phoebe... they're all in this set on flickr.
Funniest signage of the trip: on the marquee of an exterminator's shop, somewhere in the Poconos...."Pest of the Week: Carpenter Ants."
[Funny, of course, as long as you don't have Carpenter Ants]
Despite the traffic that soon ensued, I got very excited when we passed by Gary, Indiana , entered Illinois, and saw the Chicago skyline from afar. When we got closer, I made Mr. Paideia take a picture:
I really do like Chicago, but not its traffic. I think that cities I have encountered mainly as a teenager or adult [Boston, Chicago] are very exciting for me because I feel that I've "learned them" myself.
The Red Roof Inn of Elyria, Ohio was pleasant enough as our midpoint. Phoebe had a blast in the hotel room and tried to claw up the furniture [she was dissuaded from doing so]. It's so interesting traveling with a cat. I think Phoebe has got to be one of the most adaptable little kitties out there.
People in the Midwest seem to be really into fireworks, at least based on all of the billboards we saw advertising their sale. [L, what's up with that?] Abby, if you're reading this, on our way up US-41 in Wisconsin we passed the Mars Cheese Castle and I thought of you [but didn't get the camera out in time for a picture]. We also passed an enormous adult entertainment store smack in the middle of a HUGE farmfield.
I-80 was a good straight road. Very straight. It was really quite beautiful across much of Pennsylvania, entailed much construction in Ohio and Indiana, and then we were on 90, 94, and 41 the rest of the way. Indiana is very, very flat-- flatter than Wisconsin--but looked pretty enough in its own way. On the Ohio turnpike, they're putting in new rest areas west to east and they almost all look like UFOs that have just landed, but they're quite nice.
I think I want to go on a long drive again someday when we don't have the cat and many valuable possessions stuffed into the car, so that we can really take detours and small roads and explore. The car was indeed stuffed:
Note the cheesehead, which was one of our going-away gifts.
Phoebe's thoughts on the trip: "Meow. Meow meow meow. The humans entrapped me in a strange blue cage, then further entrapped me a in a large humming machine that moved. Meow. We went across the George Washington Bridge and I was very upset to leave Manhattan. Meow. At times there appeared to be three humans in front of me, one of whom spoke in a strange, mechanical voice with an Australian accent. Other mysterious voices sang for our entertainment; I found the bass lines too loud. At times the female human being would yell loudly at some unseen foe beyond out big cage. Occasionally the humans would look at me or pour water [wet! meow!] into a small plastic doohicky on my cage. The cage did make for decent sleeping. In the evening I was removed from the cage and permitted to roam around a large space with a large red couch, which I was not permitted to scratch. My arch nemesis, the Small Bit of Cardboard at The End of the Black Wire, has followed me lo this long journey and I have vanquished it. Now I have been removed from the cage for some time. There is strange fuzzy grass upon the floor here, which is pleasant for rolling. The humans sit on the floor with me. There are copious windowsills, so I suppose it will suffice. Meow.
Now we're here on the floor of our [mostly] empty apartment. We arrived last night and are now officially residents of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. More about Wisconsin to follow, of course. We are tired and a bit disorganized-- our stuff arrives tomorrow-- but happy to be here. And, it's 90 degrees outside, so the theme of the "Go Away and Dress Warmly" party, while accurate for winter, does not apply at the moment :-)
And, it's a whole new world of chain restaurants, most of which we just passed, some of which [something called Fagioli] we ate at. Country Kitchen Buffet, Longhorn Steakhouse, Eat 'n Park, Hometown Buffet, Cracker Barrel, White Castle, Texas Roadhouse, and countless, countless others. It's a brave new world out there, folks. [But in the meantime, I'm patronizing our nice little local coffee shop, and today we found excellent thin crust pizza]
Quote of the Day : Elderly Man: Damnit Mona, this isn't the fastest way to Country Kitchen Buffet!
Mona: No, but it's the shortest. I save the most gas that way. [back at the pond the fisherman casts his line and looks back at the car]
Elderly Man: You save the most gas if you take the highway to Country Kitchen Buffet!
--- South Park 710, "Grey Dawn"