Wednesday, June 2, 2010; Maumee, Ohio; 10:00pm EST! In a hotel. 633 ft. alt. 70 degrees F. Weather is calling for severe thunderstorms (and if it's anything like last night, we'll be happy we're in a hotel again!).

So we made it through Nebraska and into Iowa yesterday.

Many farms and fields.

We had the best intentions to camp, but around 4:00 the sky darkened and, as we trekked along a scenic route - Route 44 - just north of I-80, we were flanked on all sides by massive lightening bolts flashing laterally and perpendicularly to the ground (never saw THAT before). Hmmm. Might not be the best night camp. I was even worried that my bike (sans bike seat) would be an excellent conductor for one particularly devious bolt of lightening and drove faster. Danene remarked that the clouds above us looked like the frosting on top of an "iced cake." I agreed and added that they looked like "angry ocean waves."

Edible or not - they were awesome and there was a colossal barometric confrontation going on above us. We decided to try to get to Iowa City and find a hotel. But after stopping for a bite to eat, the rain just pummeled us. I drove for about 25 miles, white-knuckling it through the weather, with 18-wheelers whizzing by and my less-than-mildly-effective windshield wipers doing nothing to clear off the waterfall on my window, before we called it quits and hunkered down for el noche in an Econolodge that smelled like sewage in Newton, Iowa. We didn't care. We were just happy to be dry and to get away from my darn bike antenna.

Woke up this morning to a dry sky, a little overcast - but DRY! And today...today was a "Let's blow!" day. Meaning, let's get through as many states as we can and get outta the Midwest. Nothing against it, we just wanted to make time so we could get to the northeast Great Lakes area, where, on one of which, we hoped to camp tonight. WELL...wanna make God laugh...tell him your plans, right? As Danene predicted, we're kind of riding these storm fronts across the states. They're either a little behind us, or we're a little behind them. Today, I think we were in the middle of the one from last night (which is now ahead of us) and another one that came from behind us and is supposed to be hitting around 2am this morning. We made an executive decision to hotel it another night. Danene, the master accommodation booker and itinerary planner, found us a great deal in Maumee, Ohio, which is just south of Toledo. We splurged on a little vino and pizza from a nearby Carrabas chain. Not bad at all! Though I am sorry we couldn't camp, we simply were NOT chancing getting caught in a lighting storm like last night. We are holding out our hopes for tomorrow night and are planning to camp along Lake Ontario after a grand finale visit to Niagra Falls tomorrow (to which Danene has never been!). Please send a little prayer for good weather tomorrow!!!

As far as our journey on the road today, it was rather uneventful. We were just in the "road zone," I guess, and passed through 4 states, covering about 520 miles in 8-plus hours of drive time. We left Iowa around 9:30pm and pulled in to Maumee around 8:00pm. Scenic Route 44 in Iowa was very pretty - rolling hills and farms (plus the dramatic weather display). Saw one bumper sticker in Des Moines that said, "I swear to God I'm going to pistol whip the next guy who says SHENANEGANS." Okay. Whatever! It's funny what some people choose to put on their cars. That was it for Iowa. We did stop once at a rest stop and my ever-diligent BFF did some work.

Then, on to Illinois, which we crossed into just after catapulting over the mighty Mississippi River in the blink of an eye.

Later, in the Chicago area, the traffic got crazy.

Trucks were everywhere - transporting all that much-needed (not) stuff Americans so desire to the more populated areas of our country - like Chicago! The billboards starting popping up like prairie dogs - mostly advertising sex (men's clubs and adult stores) and fireworks. Oh, and Cracker Barrels, too (which Danene refers to as "Barf Barrels" - I think they're okay as far as on-the-road fare goes, she obviously has higher standards than I do). Anyway, it was welcome to the big city!

Indiana was very pretty.

I was surprised, actually. Not that I had any expectations. I'd never been through it before, but I saw the movie Hoosiers (does that count?). Lots of rolling hills and large, beautiful farms with high-reaching silos and ancient, red barns. Ohio was more of the same.

We figured they were mostly corn and soy crops. It's interesting that the feed lots are mostly in the Midwest. I guess we like to keep our hands clean in the East.

One thing I was happy to see again, were the puffy trees. They made it feel like home when we passed into Eastern Standard Time somewhere in Indiana and on through to Ohio.

The trees out west are much different; more sparse, more craggy, more evergreen, more grandiose. Don't get me wrong - I love those trees, too. But there is something very comforting about the smaller, sweeter, humid density of the trees out here. And the wide open fields between clusters of them. I love that, too. That topography just isn't out West. It's like the Adirondacks versus the Rockies. Smaller, older, lower, not as dramatic - but to me, they are homier, cozier, and quainter. I'm am glad to be here. It's a land, in its humility, I can handle. It's home.