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Posted on Nov 21, 2014

The Hunts Head West – Day 2

This post could also be titled ‘The Day of Corn.’

We drove through miles and miles and then somehow more miles of corn. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As I mentioned in the last post, we pulled out of Indianapolis in lovely pouring rain and super happy morning commuters who graciously shared the road – well, the rain part was true. The heavy, unobliging traffic separated our little two-vehicle parade for awhile, to the point that I could no longer see Andrew in the bright yellow moving truck. A brief panic attack ensued because ohmygod how will we ever find each other again on this straight flat road going to the same destination with cell phones and CB radios to aid us.

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Fortunately, our separation only lasted for a few minutes as we left the city, Andrew caught back up and my crazy inner control-freak simmered down to a reasonably normal level.

We soon entered Illinois, and the clouds finally parted, granting us beautiful sunny skies.

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We also saw the first of many MANY wind turbines.

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We stumbled upon an amazing rest stop, where we walked the dogs and breathed in the fresh, crisp autumn air.

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There were walking paths going a fair ways into the trees and excellent plant diversity, which gave the dogs plenty to sniff and explore.

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Though we could easily have lingered longer in this beautiful setting, we loaded back up and sallied forth in search of food. Some quick Googling found that Culver’s had veggie burgers! And sweet potato fries! And something called cheese curds!

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While the cheese curds were slightly disappointing (basically a big wad of very rich fried dough with a little speck of cheese inside), the burger hit the spot and was a pleasant surprise. Fast food eateries are not known for their plethora of vegetarian options, and despite my wishing otherwise, french fries do not count as a real meal. So, if you’re a road-tripping vegetarian crossing the Midwest, check out Culver’s … although I would be the last person to judge you if you stopped somewhere else and made french fries your meal.

We continued on, and this was our view for pretty much the rest of the day:

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C-O-R-N. corncorncorncorncorncorncorn. My mind flashbacked to undergrad when I worked for a corn-breeding project, walking up and down, up and down row after row of corn. My fellow manual laborers would walk the rows searching for new shoots which we would quickly place a bag over to control pollination. At the end of the day, you would close your eyes and all you would see were those little green shoots – you would dream about those little green shoots. Driving through these Midwestern cornfields evoked a similar feeling – I would close my eyes, see the field imprinted on my retina, open my eyes and still.see.the.same.fields. It was kind of eerie – I knew time was passing and that we were actually moving but the view never seemed to change.

The view eventually did change as we crossed the mighty Mississippi – sadly, this was the best my phone and I could muster which does not do justice to the grandeur of this body of water.

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We entered into Iowa, where we were greeted by (you guessed it!) more corn!

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But we also saw plenty of awesome barns along the way which stirred up my barn envy. I really want a barn – preferably red and falling apart just enough to be charming without being a pain to maintain. Can we make that happen?

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We pushed on through into Minnesota and here’s where things get a little bit less than awesome. I had decided to wing it with where we would stay each night because I wanted to allow for any unexpected detours, exhaustion, etc. and not feel tied to getting to one specific place. I had researched multiple places that we could stay along our route through Minnesota and we had a ‘goal’ destination, a backup destination and a last resort destination that would have us getting in pretty late. Long story short, after numerous ‘no vacancies’ – we ended up at last resort destination, with the Jetta coasting in to the parking lot on fumes (FYI, I consider anything less than a quarter of a tank to be fumes – and heaven forbid if that little light comes on …. all out panic ensues).

We repeated our dog walking/feeding/re-walking routine which is easy enough when you have one dog but when you multiply that by 5, it takes time. Especially if you have a dog who refuses to poop on a leash – Sawyer, I’m looking at you. This dog will walk and walk and walk and do nothing, wait until you get back inside and then whine to finally go take care of business. There’s always one, isn’t there?

By the time the dogs were taken care of, it felt pretty late for us east coasters and some of us may or may not have been cranky and slightly hangry. A tiny bit of snarkiness may or may not have invaded our responses to each other as we waited for the little microwave to heat up our dinner. But once we all had sustenance, we returned to normal. (In full disclosure, my mom was a perfect saint and the previous sentences do not apply to her. And Andrew, well, he kind of was fine too. Don’t do the math.) We scarfed down our gourmet microwave meals while the dogs enjoyed kongs stuffed with peanut butter for dessert.

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The dogs had been such awesome little troopers so I broke out some new toys that we bought specifically for the trip. They loved them! A little too much. You see, the thing about beagles is that they are a lot like hobbits. Their things are their things and they like to keep it that way.

Wally fell head over paws for the shark toy pictured below and assumed it was his and only his. Unfortunately, Sasha & Ella had other ideas and promptly stole it. Instead of actually playing with the other dogs (as I had naively envisioned), Wally did what he does best and cried about it – literally. He does this half-bark half-crying noise that is just absolutely pleasant to listen to.

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Sharkie was quickly retrieved and hidden for the remainder of the night.

We all slept well that night – Annie only played guard dog for a brief period right in the dead of the night – and we woke up, refreshed and ready to tackle another day of travel.

Check back in to read about our journey through South Dakota & Wyoming!

(Wondering where we’re traveling and why? Catch up on our journey here & here)

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