Great American Road Trip: Day 1

I figured if I had to do a 15-hour day on this road trip, it might as well be day 1.  I had not anticipated starting the trip hungover and exhausted from a Sunday night wedding, so the morning hours were brutal.  Thankfully, it was Columbus Day, and the whole tri-state area was clear of traffic at seven in the morning.

In the past, I’ve taken 70/76 to get across Pennsylvania, as that feeds into Columbus, Ohio, for years my launching pad into the rest of the country.  Friends from Abercrombie would be a welcome reprieve from the brutal tundra of Southern PA.  Turns out, Interstate 80 is WAY nicer. The rolling hills of the Alleghenies, which MLK gave a shout out to in his “I have a dream” speech, are gorgeous this time of year.

Unfortunately for Route 80, the governments of Ohio and Indiana think highly of it too.  Traversing the Ohio turnpike costs an astonishing $13.50, which is the most, I believe, I’ve ever paid to cross a state, shocking when you consider that Ohio is only about 4 hours wide, and not scenic in the slightest.  I guess they need the cash, though. Indiana, which takes even less time to cross, and at least offers some farmland to look at, cost $7.50.

Middlebury, Indiana is a sleepy town in the woodlands of Northern Indiana, literally minutes from the border with Michigan, which allowed me to listen to an excellent Michigan NPR affiliate for several hours.   It’s the kind of place where  people sell bundles of wood, and giant insects smash into your windshield.  It’s also the home of Sue, one of my favorite people from Biloxi days.  She lives in a dope cabin.

Sue cooked a delicious dinner, and we exchanged stories, me regaling her with tales from Liberia, her telling me about adventures in Haiti, where she worked with the group I am promoting on the “Helping Others Live the Dream” page.  Turns out Haiti and Liberia have many similarities- widespread poverty, beautiful beaches, resilient people…I wish I could have hung out at Sue’s longer, but the road always beckons.

Fifteen hours after I started my day, I pulled up to Nate Anderson’s place in Chicago.  He is an old buddy from college, and surprised me with one of the most comfortable guest bedroom beds I’ve ever slept in.  It’s now 9am, Chicago-time, and I’m off to Minneapolis, where I’ll be crashing with Couchsurfers for the first of many times during this trip.  The road will take me past Madison- maybe I’ll stop by the anarchist book store for lunch….

The midwest, particularly the northern rustbelt, is aesthetically my least favorite part of the country, so getting it done one day was very solid.  No complaints from Suby either.   To the open road…

About Janos Marton

Janos Marton is a lawyer, advocate and writer.
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