It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 9

I’m get­ting a lit­tle ner­vous about mak­ing my date in Pitts­burgh. Today I did 350 miles. The first 200 miles took 6 hours. The last 150 miles about 2. 

So here are the high­lights of the first 200 miles.

I start­ed on the west side of Decatur and head­ed through town on Hwy 36. At the cen­ter of the old­er sec­tion of town I came across 5 church­es in 3 blocks — all with steeples or bell tow­ers. If you haven’t done much west — east trav­el you may not have noticed that the surest sign of hav­ing crossed the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er is that all of the build­ings on Main Street are brick. Not just the banks, but the bar­ber­shop, the gro­cery, and the tire store.

Tus­co­la, IL has sev­er­al grain ele­va­tors and at least three sets of RR tracks. Here are two of the elevators.

grain elevator at Tuscola
grain ele­va­tor at Tuscola
grain elevators at Tuscola
grain ele­va­tors at Tuscola

This is one of the small­er planters I saw today.

john deere planter (eastern illinois)
john deere planter (east­ern illinois)

In South Dako­ta and Iowa get­ting stuck behind a planter on the road was not big deal. You nev­er had to wait more than a cou­ple of min­utes to get to a clear bit of road to pass and there’s almost nev­er on-com­ing traf­fic. In Illi­nois and Indi­ana you can wait a long time for a pass­ing lane and even longer for for a spot with no on-com­ing traffic. 

There is a spot in Indi­ana — Dana to be exact. That con­tains per­haps the world’s high­est coef­fi­cient of WTF-itude.

Dana, ID is the boy­hood home of Ernie Pyle.
There is a muse­um in Dana. Next to which is pos­si­bly the most illeg­i­ble pub­lic mur­al I’ve ever seen.

mural depicting the adventures of ernie pyle (I think)
mur­al depict­ing the adven­tures of ernie pyle (I think)

On the grounds of the muse­um is this paint­ed giraffe. Yes he is wear­ing two dif­fer­ent uni­forms, GI in the front and high school bas­ket­ball in the back. Love the sweat socks.

painted giraffe
paint­ed giraffe
fromthe rear...
from the rear…

With this even odd­er expla­na­tion. I mean giraffes? Pigs I under­stand, cows I’ve seen done, even hip­pos, but giraffes?

sign explaning the giraffe
sign explan­ing the giraffe

But wait — there’s more — at the right edge of the park­ing lot across the street from the muse­um is this sign.


Uh huh… let the enten­dres (dou­ble and beyond) begin.

One of the love­ly things about being far enough back east is that there are woods. You know, clumps of trees, often sur­round­ing a creek or pond. Like this lit­tle spot that I stopped at for a snack break. 

nice spot for a picnic
nice spot for a picnic

It was 81 degrees and get­ting very mug­gy at 11 am.

A cou­ple of hours lat­er I stopped for lunch in Danville, IN. There’s an Ital­ian place across from the cour­t­house called Frank’s Place. For­give the mob­ster por­traits on the walls. The Cae­sar sal­ad with grilled chick­en was love­ly. My last stop was at the Cour­t­house Grounds for an iced latte.

On the actu­al cour­t­house grounds was one of the nicest vet­er­ans memo­ri­als I’ve seen this trip. 

world war I and II veterans memorial
world war I and II vet­er­ans memorial

The side­walk place­ment isn’t ide­al but the design is just right.

Ran­dom bits from today’s notes.

I can’t see a sign for Terre Haute with­out remem­ber­ing my Dad’s dread­ful ‘ter­ri­bly hot’ puns when we stopped there on a road trip to Col­orado in per­haps 1968?

On I‑70 near Day­ton OH there is a sign that says Xenia Urbana 1 mile. Clear­ly just the right name for a space hook­er with a heart of gold for my next space opera.

The last 150 miles were on I‑70 between Indi­anapo­lis, IN and Colum­bus, OH. Pure urban/suburban inter­state hell. I still don’t under­stand how I blew past not one but two cops at 12 over the lim­it and did­n’t get a blink. No, there was no one going faster than me at the time and yes, the sec­ond time I was re-emerg­ing from pass­ing an idiot in an Excur­sion on the right by using a friend­ly UPS freighter as a block. (Dude had the sweet­est smile…)

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Big Dam Coun­try — Day 9 in a larg­er map

About the Author

Lara Harriger

1 Comment

  1. You cruised through East­ern Illi­nois not 60 miles from where I grew up. My par­ents live a few miles off that bor­ing Inter­state to the north that you so wise­ly avoided.

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