Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chicago Trip, Day 4

I got out of class early on Tuesday. There was a lab to finish things up, which I completed early, so I was on the road by about 3:30 and headed north. In other good news, Annoyance #3 from yesterday seems to not be a problem. I called the Illinois Toll people and apparently the change in DST (doing it 3 weeks earlier) has hosed all of their computers and the light systems. They said that they should have taken my car's license plate picture and they will match it up with my account and deduct it automatically. So that's nice

I headed north (west) on I-90 and into Wisconsin. It took me nearly an hour and a half (and 2 states!) before I got into my first new county, Dane (#54). I got off onto US 12, which serves as sort of a bypass loop for Madison, WI. A couple of interesting things from my time there. 1) At one point, I was simultaneously on 4 US highways at once (US 12, US 14, US 18 and US 151). 2) I crossed over some railroad tracks. Now, crossing railroad tracks is not a big deal in and of itself. But this was a limited-access divided highway! Imagine being on 71 or 275 or the Norwood Lateral and crossing over railroad tracks!?!? Now it did not appear that the tracks were actually in use - in fact I think they didn't even cross over the median, and I have to assume that there is a decent reason they haven't removed them, but still, it was odd. 3) It was about 5:30 or so, and I was getting hungry. I wanted some more Arby's, and saw some here in Madison, but didn't feel like stopping here, since I didn't want to get caught up in any rush-hour type traffic.

So I headed west on US 14 into western Washington. My passing on the copious amounts of Arby's in Madison would turn out to burn me, as the burgs of W WI had nary a fast food restaurant. I went through Iowa (#55) and crossed the Wisconsin River into Sauk (#56). Crossing the Wisconsin again on WI 133 put me into Richland (#57). WI 133 paralleled the river on the south side and a few miles in, I came across this:

I always love signs like this. There was actually a better one, indicating that I was in fact travelling simultaneously both north and south, but by the time I saw it, recognized its coolness, looked for my camera, found it, and turned it on, I had passed it. I then sat, with camera poised, looking for another reassurance marker, but this was the best I could do. That picture would be in Grant (#58), and shortly after I crossed the Wisconsin (again) back into Richland County. Some (nicely marked and nicely maintained!) county roads led me back to US 14 near Boaz, and I again headed west, into Vernon County (#59). Right after the Richland-Vernon border, I had marked on my maps 3 potential out and backs to get Crawford County. The first 2 were local roads, and since I wasn't sure the quality of the roads or the circumstances in which I'd be passing by, I also had marked out US 61 which I could use, though it was about 2-3 miles longer of a one-way journey. I passed on the first one (McKittrick Rd, no relation to the McKetrick supplicants, of course), but then took a gamble on County Road X.

As you can see, no problems there - Crawford (#60) was mine. I have been very impressed with the quality of the marked county roads in Wisconsin. You can also see that it's starting to rain. It would rain off and on for the next several hours. You can also see that it's still (a little) light out. I had realized that the day before - by travelling west, I would be extending my day slightly. This is something that I've thought about before, living on the very western edges of a timezone. A few examples - sunset yesterday in Cincinnati was 7:57 p.m, compared to 7:01 in Portland, Maine. The difference from Chicago and La Crosse, Wisconsin is about 15 minutes, which I guess isn't a whole lot....

Speaking of La Crosse, I continued on US 14 / 61 West into La Crosse County (#61). After passing a McDonalds in Viroqua, La Crosse seemed to have the full gamut of fast food restaurants, so I kept my eyes peeled for my coveted Arby's. No dice. Though actually there does appear to be an Arby's there - it's just not on the main road so I didn't see it. I did see just about everything else though.

After going through La Crosse, US 14 / 61 turned west and crossed over the Mighty Mississip' into Houston County, Minnesota (#62) and the Apple Capital of Minnesota, La Crescent. Did you know that La Crescent was the Apple Capital of Minnesota? Did you even know that you could grow apples in an area with winters as cold as Minnesota? Well, now you do.

Minnesota was one of 15 states I had never previously visited. I think the last time I picked up a new state was when I made Carolyn drive to North Carolina back in 1998. It's getting a lot harder to pick up new states. The closest "new" states for me to visit would be SC, NJ or DE, all of which are somewhere around 10 hours one way from home. For your eternal reference, the other 11 remaining states I need are AK, AR, HI, ID, MT, ND, NM, NV, OK, SD and VT.

Conveniently, US 14 / 61 also crosses into Winona County (#63) before I said good-bye to Minnesota and headed back over Big Muddy on I-90 East back into 'Sconsin. I-90 was interesting. As I mentioned earlier, it had been raining off and on for awhile now, and here it started pouring VERY hard. Combined with the trucks on the road, it made things a little hairy for awhile. In any case, I soldiered on into Monroe (#64) and Juneau (#65). By now, I had reached the magical 9 p.m. hour so I could call home for free. Carolyn and I were talking, and she was Googling about to find me an Arby's nearby and lo, there was none. She kept saying "No man, it's Madison, you gotta go to Madison" Yes, that would be the same Madison where I actually was back at dinner time... So then I changed tacks and decided I would opt for a Wendy's. While she was looking for Wendy's, I saw a sign saying there was one at Exit 87, which was where I was getting off the highway anyways. Sometime around here we hung up so she could go to bed, and I was off on my own for the night.

I get off at Exit 87 on to WI 13. Well, actually, the exit snuck up on me and I flew right past it, and had to slam on the brakes and throw it in reverse. Luckily I didn't pass it by much and the highway was deserted, so that was not a problem and I crossed the Wisconsin River (again) into Columbia (#66) and entered into the city of Wisconsin Dells. I had heard of the place as a popular timeshare destination when I was looking into that, and it was in fact quite touristy.

Right away, I spotted Wendy's off to the right and made my way over there. Ooh suerie it was closed or shut down or in some other way not open for my Junior Bacon Cheeseburger needs. All my needs? Yes, all my needs. To rub salt in my wounds, as I looped around this frontage road back on to the main highway, I saw this:

Now that's just cruel. I didn't have a map with me, so I just had to keep going on WI 13. At one point I wasn't sure if I had crossed county lines without a sign, but kept going and before too long, I made my way into Adams (#67). I turned around at the first available driveway which was the aptly named "Wisconsin Dolls Gentlemen's Club. I didn't stop in... :-)

Back on the main drag, I stopped to get gas and picked up some Taco Bell. My designed route called for me to get back on to I-90 East and follow that back home, so that's what I did.

[Fade to black]


Click on the link if you don't get that.

When I was driving out west of Madison, I realized that the end of my route had me going back about 2 hours home through counties that I had already been to. It seemed like such a waste, when there were plenty of counties to the east that "needed" to be visited. It even looked like it wouldn't be that much out of the way. So, after a quick confirming call to Jim, I had a brief route mapped out.

I did get back on I-90 East, but when 90/94 split at Madison, instead of continuing on 90, I got on to I-94 towards Milwaukee. Getting off on WI 26 North, I went through Watertown into Dodge (#68). Had I been planning this at home, I could have figured out a quicker way to cut off some time, but on my physical map, the best I could do was take WI 16 East, north of town. And either I missed the county line marker or there wasn't one, but as expected, a look at the map now indicates definite Dodge-ness. WI 16 turned into a limited-access road as I entered Waukesha (#69), and then I took WI 190 East. About a mile in, my plan told me to take a left on WI 74 North, but when I got there, my only option was to the right on to WI 74 East. I was unsure as to whether or not this was going to take me where I wanted to go, so I continued straight and ended up turning left (north) on to CR YY / Pilgrim Road. This was slow going as it was city roads through the northwestern suburbs of Milwaukee - that would be Milwaukee (#70). I turned on to County Line Road, and did an out and back into Ozaukee (#71) and then Washington (#72). I went back and then got on to the highway of US 45 south and followed the highways back into Chicago, picking up Racine (#73) and Kenosha (#74) on the way back, leaving the total for the evening at 21 new counties (19 Wisconsin and 2 Minnesota).


Carolyn said...

This post looked lonely with no comments. I hear you're the man now dog.

Jason said...

Dan.. I love you man