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10:40 a.m. - July 19, 2005
On Ye Olde Road, Yet Again - Cedar Rapids Here We Come!
After the most eventful non-eventful Sunday in the history of our household (a sleepy day with your normal sidewalk chalk in Katie’s room incidents) – I took off on my business trip to lovely Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Instead of flying, I decided to drive there. It made no sense to drive 45 minutes to the airport, wait, fly to Chicago, wait, and fly to Iowa – I could drive all the way there without a problem.

I love to drive – especially the byways of this great nation. When I go on vacation I do not take interstates if I can avoid them. I like to see the people of the country, catch the sights, and get to where I’m going a bit more leisurely and less hectic. Of course, the way I drive that may be an oxymoronical statement (or just a moronical statement, your mileage may vary – consult your dealer for terms and conditions).

I saw where I could take US 136 all the way to Keokuk, Iowa, then hit US 218 which would take me to Cedar Rapids. US 136 is a key road for me – my driveway is on it. So basically, I woke up Monday morning, got in the car, turned left, and I was on my way to Iowa.

My iPod lost its mind (literally – I’ve had this replacement about two weeks and it just up and stopped updating and doesn’t have half the songs – I’m sending it back, AGAIN!), but fortunately I had about a gazillion (technical term) CDs I have burned for just such emergencies, and I also had a set of CDs I made for AJ (who is here at the conference with me) – so I had my music for the trip.

So at about 8:15 Monday morning, I left for Iowaaaaay (I thought it was Io-wuh!). Here’s the journey as I saw it (and heard it).

Danville, Illinois (“…One More Time” – Fountains of Wayne). Yes, a cover of the Britney Spears song. Brilliant) - It’s going to be hot, hot, hot. I am waiting for a freight train, and I noticed that there’s no caboose. I haven’t seen a caboose in years. When I was a kid, the caboose was always cool and the guy in the caboose always waved to you. What happened? Now, there’s no closure! I need closure! (That explains a few things regarding my recent relationships with some friends, I suppose!)

Rantoul, Illinois (“B Boy Bouillabaisse” – Beastie Boys (not Cheech and Chong!) and “She Reconsidered” by Arson Garden) - I thought gas in Indiana was high. I had to fill up here and it was $2.36 a gallon – a full .20 more than what I paid a couple of weeks ago.

Fisher, Illinois (Miles from Nowhere” – The Smithereens. How apt!) - The sign on the school says “Home of the Bunnies and Scotties” Wow! If we moved there, my little girls could be point guards for the Bunnies. Nice.

Heyworth, Illinois (“Happy” and “Tumbling Dice” – The Rolling Stones). Gas here is $2.18 a gallon? What’s up with Eastern Illinois, then? I saw a sign on the school that said “Heyworth Football Rules”. I looked on the web – last year they were 2-7. That’s not exactly ruling. By the way, the Stones are doing commercials for Ameriquest Mortgage. They’ve been together over 40 years and now they have to shill for a financial company? Wow.

San Jose, Illinois (“Mindrocker” – Fenwyck) – San Jose? Illinois? Someone needed a bit more creativity, I suppose. Or they just got lazy. “Earl, what should we call this here town?””Dunno, Clem. What’s the name of that there town near Frisco?”)

Havana, Illinois (“He’s Kissing Christian” – that dog) - Lots of trailers hitched on the backs of pickup trucks this fine Monday. It seems that’s the vehicle of choice for Central Illinois. Of course, the trailers are all empty but they’re still attached.

Table Grove, Illinois (“Because” – The Dave Clark Five) - I almost ran off the road. I love old Victorian houses (I’d better, since I bought one in December) and there was this nice old house, definitely Victorian. But it was painted Kelly green! Not a muted shade at all! Wow! I did a double take and at that moment the 136 took a medium-hard left, so I had to scramble to stay on the road. Why would you paint a house THAT color? And the paint job looked recent. Hmmmm….

Macomb, Illinois (“Carrie Anne” – The Hollies. You know, there’s a steel drum solo in that song. Who came up with that idea??) – Gas is $2.14 a gallon here, which makes the prices in Rantoul even more puzzling. The liquor store is called “The House of Bottles”. I guess no 30-packs of Busch cans, then.

Tennessee, Illinois (“Train From Kansas City” – Neko Case) – This is just ridiculous. Now, they’re forced to name towns after STATES, not just other cities. What’s next? Antarctica, Illinois?? By the way, I saw a van with a wheel cover from the hometown of The Goddess. She lives in a smallish burgh a few states over from Illinois, and you wonder how that van meandered to BFE, Illinois.

Carthage, Illinois (“Mood to Burn Bridges” – Neko Case) – A sign on the way into town said “Home of the Blue Boys” – wonder if they play the Bunnies. There was a sign that said “Get Us Out of the United Nations” – I guess the Birchers are still at it. The big deal in Carthage is the jail, where I take it Joseph Smith was martyred before the Mormons decided to beat feet to Utah. It’s funny how history turns. All those years ago, the mob of 150 never had a second thought about what they were doing and what the eventual reaction would be – and now it’s a tourist attraction. I think their heads would spin if they knew what was going to happen in the future. There’s a statue of the Smiths there, even. Someone going forward in time from 1848 to today would just be dumbfounded by that. However, we don’t know how our ancestors will view us in 2200, either.

The Mississippi River (“Scratch” – Morphine) – As I crossed the Mississippi, I saw all of the locks there and just wondered on how the river looked when it was free and unfettered. Man has harnessed nature for his own doing, and I assume that it’s for a good reason (flood control and river traffic, for sure) but for once I’d love to see what the river would actually do if left to its own devices.

On Highway 218 North (“Look But Don’t Touch” – Paul Collins Beat). Highway 218 is a four lane highway going north and south. On the northbound lanes the right lane was closed for miles but no work was being done except in this little section and the road looked like no work had been done on it. Why do they close that lane for dozens of miles when it’s not chopped up at all? I’m no engineer, of course, but it makes no sense to me. Also, I spotted a pickup truck with a trailer that was hauling a boat stopped at the side of the road. There was a couple inside the boat and it looked like they were just chilling out, like the boat was in the water. The man was leaning back, arms outstretched like he was holding onto the sides. I thought he may have had a beverage of some sort, too. It was strange to see that. It’s 90 degrees outside and they’re in a boat parked on the side of the road.

Riverside, Iowa (“Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” – The Smiths). Gas is $2.31 here. I give up. This is the main reason I came on this path. Riverside is the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk (yes, that’s right – the FUTURE birthplace of Captain Kirk). I had to stop!

I parked on the main drag of Riverside on a quiet Monday. I saw the banner showing where the birthplace was – and I snapped a couple of pictures (I’ll post later when I get home) of the monument. That’s it – one monument. The town’s gift shop was closed, but I went into the local establishment for a sandwich. It looked like it could hold a lot of people. There were 20 booths and 20 spaces at the bar – plus a back room. But I was the only on in there besides this woman of indeterminate age (she didn’t look old, but she had a short haircut and old-ish style wire rimmed glasses so I wasn’t guessing) playing video slots and drinking a draft beer. That’s an exciting town, for sure. The streets were deserted and quiet. I wonder if the locals work in Iowa City, because there are not a lot of shops or businesses here.

The town park has a model of the USS Enterprise (they had to call it the USS Riverside and alter the design just a tad due to copyright issues, I take it and the shuttlecraft for the Enterprise. They also advertised their Trek Fest.

But there’s nothing else, really, about that. I wonder if the locals are embarrassed by it, a bit. It’s kind of cheesy, really, to market your little hamlet as the future birthplace of some fictional character. But it got me in their town and I did spend some hard earned money (well, hard earned expense money, surely) there. So I guess it worked, on me.

After that side trip I arrived a half-hour later in Cedar Rapids, via car, not transporter. This place has a lot of small town in it as well (to some, like the City Mouse, it IS a small town, only 120,000 or so people here). It’s called “The City of Five Seasons” – which I take it means “Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall and a time to enjoy them all”. I can’t make that up, but at least it’s not the future birthplace of Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th century. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of hopping night life, so I guess my disco shoes will just have to be kept in the suitcase this time. (Nuts! And I boogie-oogie-oogie so well!)


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