27 July 2010

Achieving Flight Through An Iowa Cornfield.

So it's been about a week since I've returned from a really nice wedding in Wisconsin. It was the latest in a series of weekend road trips I've been taking, stemming from equal parts wanderlust and the simple desire for activity. On the journey up to the Badger State, Google Maps cleverly routed us through the smallest state highways possible in an effort to confound and confuse us. In addition, Jose and I were only armed with an outdated Magellan GPS unit that occasionally told us we were floating through nothingness as we drove through the Iowa countryside.

Even after making a couple of wrong turns and creeping through more than a handful of sleepy rural towns, we made it to La Crosse in the estimated 8 hours -- so Google Maps was right in that regard. I also had to admit that although we pretty much failed to use any major interstates on the way up, it was an interesting and -- dare I say, scenic -- drive. With only the occasional twist and turn, the state roads were straight and mostly well-maintained. We did get stuck behind a slower moving vehicle now and then, but it was easy to gun past them as visibility opened up and I jammed on the gas.

I dunno, something about being away from the interstate and flying through acres and acres of cornfields made me drive a bit faster than I probably should have. But there were long spans of time when there were no other cars on the road, either in front of me or in the rear-view mirror (and visibility stretched out into miles on some parts of the journey). It was strangely liberating, so I took every opportunity to see if we could make up time. A few hours into our trip, we crested a hill and descended into a long valley, where I could see ahead for a couple of miles, and I gunned it. The cornstalks were green blurs. I kept accelerating. My car's engine sounded ... happy.


After a few seconds, Jose looked at me. "How fast are we going?"

"A hundred."

"You better watch out for cops," he replied. There was absolutely no place for a police car to hide on this stretch of road, as corn grew at the shoulders' edge. All the city cops were probably hiding out in the small towns we'd driven through earlier, hoping to catch someone running a red. But he had a point. It probably wasn't worth the ticket :) Even though I knew we were the only ones around, I eased off soon after (we were nearing the edge of the valley anyway).

It was different from flying down a major freeway, when you can usually just join a group of cars violating the speed limit. The sensation of high velocity was more pronounced, heightened by the closeness of the crops on either side and the narrower road. It was pure, simple fun, even if it was only for ten seconds.

On the trip back from La Crosse, we got out act together and found the 4-lane state highway that we were supposed to take on the trip up, and didn't manage to save any time (the drive still took 8 hours, but we were more or less obeying the speed limit). So it was definitely more boring. Maybe we should've taken the smaller roads again.

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