Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Road trips Part 2- Midwest and Heartland

Ohio- 2 distinct regions much like IN and IL. The southern counties are basically an extension of Kentucky while the rest of the state is decidedly northern industrial. I have driven through Columbus and have been to Cleveland and the Cincinnati area. Sandusky, located between Cleveland and Toledo is home to Cedar Point, one of the best amusement parks in the country and I went there once in college. I have also been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.  Returned in 2011 for a PR in the Columbus half.

Indiana- passed through the southern part on a 2004 road trip and found the terrain to be surprisingly hilly. I traveled all the way up I-65 on my way to Chicago 4 years later. I’ve stopped twice for meals across the river from Louisville and got very friendly service both times. I’ve also stopped a couple of times in the northern part of the state and found that it is very much different in both culture and landscape. I raced the Monumental Indy half in 2014 in 1:34, which was a season best.

Illinois- My most memorable experience here was the 2008 Banco Popular Chicago half marathon, where I set a PR in pouring rain and had an adventure getting home because of flooded roads. I also passed through some country in the southern portion just east of the Mississippi and stopped at a restaurant in Carbondale. I saw lots of corn fields with gently rolling hills and it seemed worlds apart from Chicago.

Michigan- I have relatives who lived here in Grand Rapids in the early ‘80s. I know I was there but have no memory. I did return in 2008 on my Chicago trip and stopped at the Welcome center and a McDonalds. Detroit Free Press race is a possibility.

Missouri- I have passed through here 3 times on road trips. I remember a lot of varied terrain. Some areas are quite hilly such as the St. Louis area and the Ozarks while other parts are pancake flat and straight. Culturally, the southern third is an extension of Arkansas while the rest is solidly Midwestern. Returned in 2013 for the GO St. Louis half, which was one of my worst races.  Also saw the Arch and toured the Budweiser plant.  Went to Kansas City in 2016 and saw the Truman library, IHOP and a Royals game.

Iowa- In one of the weirder things that I have done, I traveled 8 hours out of my way just to step foot in the small town of Keokuk. I wanted to see all 50 states and when else would I have the chance to make it here? The town was nice.

Minnesota-flew into Minneapolis on my way to Fargo and also stopped at the Mall of America on my way back where there was actually an amusement park inside the mall. Good call there. It can stay open 12 months of the year even if the temps are sub-zero. Nice scenery with gently rolling hills and lakes.

North Dakota- flat, barren and cold but had friendly folks and great fans supporting the marathon. Fargo marathon in 2009 and set a PR.

South Dakota- Vacation here back in ’88 and I do remember some parts. We went hiking and fishing near Rapid City and got to see Mt. Rushmore.

 Nebraska- stopped at a grocery store in Kimball in the SW corner. Forgettable landscape but friendly locals

Kansas- Back in ’06, I took a trip to the Ozarks and went about 2 hours out of my way to stop in the town of Columbus in the southeast corner. I stopped at KFC and a gas station. It was flat and only memorable because it was a new state.  Returned 10 years later for a half marathon on the Kansas Speedway on the Kansas side of KC.

Wisconsin- drove about an hour out of my way from Chicago to stop at McD’s and a gas station in the town of Kenosha.

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