A question to my readers: are any of you having problems commenting via Disqus? Because I now have two separate reports of problems. Others are commenting, but these two have essentially been locked out. I hate the thought that people want to post here and can't. So, if you are having problems, please drop me a line by e-mail. And if any of you have any idea what may be happening with Disqus, please let me know.
Well, we left Des Moines, Iowa around 12:30, after spending the morning packing. The kids hugged their grandma Rosemarie and grandpa Michael, with the assurance that they'll be seeing them again soon (April for sure, perhaps earlier). We've been driving ever since. It's now 9:00 p.m., Eastern Time (8 p.m. by our internal clocks) and we're now 30 miles into Michigan.
The trip has been uneventful, which is as things should be. The trip around the south side of Chicago has really improved from when we first started making this trip regularly (back in 2001, I think, when we first got Freddy the Faithful Ford). Back then, we passed a sign that said "Expect Delays", which was a permanent sign. And accurate. I don't know what it was they did to open up that choke point, but it worked. Yet again we breezed through Chicago in less than an hour, without slowing down below 45 mph.
The kids truly are troopers. I know many people don't find it easy to sit in a confined space for hours at a time, but our kids do it with a minimum of complaint. And we've got the routine down of stopping for gas, taking bathroom breaks, and staying on the road without too many diversions. However, I am grateful for the iPod (and having two of them), which has helped keep the children occupied during these long hours. Our gadget complement has dropped considerably. I remember when we bought a portable DVD player, but now the job is done by a device with a screen less than four inches across. They have access to hours of educational television and not-so-educational games.
It's not pretty or glamourous. It's not like the train trip we took to Kansas City or New York, but it's sure as heck better than hauling everybody and their suitcases through Pearson Airport.
We're aiming for Kalamazoo tonight, which is a little more than halfway -- possibly two-thirds of the way -- home. That should make for a quicker drive tomorrow. Then it will be home sweet home in time for supper.
I'd like to comment a bit about the billboards we've seen along the way. Illinois and Iowa clearly have stricter laws about where these things can be placed and how close to the highway, because they're thick on the ground in Indiana and Michigan. And I'm just a little conflicted. On the one hand, they really mar the landscape while driving through Michigan, and one could see how much of a disaster it would be to have this standard exported to the Midwestern states. There's so much to see out there, I don't want it blocked by advertising. On the other hand, one of those billboards did come in useful when looking for a motel to stay in tonight.
We overshot Kalamazoo and are now east of Battle Creek. We're about two hours from Detroit, and another three hours after that from home.