February 14, 2004

Voyageurs

Watching Star Trek: Voyager at the moment. It's on a local WB station in Danville, Illinois. It's been a long time since I've seen Voyager. Kind of a sappy episode.

Dad and I left home at around 9:30, finally getting on the highway just before 10:00 (had to get gas, you know). I noticed that some parts of I-90 in southeast Minnesota seem to have been re-done. It's been a long time, but I once went along that road on a class trip. I sat in the back of the bus and pretty much got sick to my stomach. I'm pretty sure I was in the fourth grade, heading to Winona or La Crosse so I could go on a short train trip on Amtrak. I'm thinking that we only went between those two cities, but now I remember that we also visited James J. Hill's home at some point, so maybe we actually got to St. Paul. At any rate, we ran into a lot of trouble because the train was late...

I mentioned some stuff about trains to my dad and he talked about an idea he had for getting new rail lines between the Cities and Rochester. His idea was to run the track (mostly just one set of rails, except in stations, etc.) on pylons along I-35 and then U.S. Highway 52 from Owatonna to Rochester. It seemed like an odd route to me until he explained that most of the way, it could use existing highway rights-of-way. Also, heading to the Cities from that direction would bring the rail line straight to the Mall of America and the Airport (and soon, both places will be major stops on the light rail line). Plus, Owatonna is a fairly major shipping town, so light freight could potentially be moved along the way sometimes. Having two towns pushing for a new line instead of just one would also be pretty good.

Something I'd forgotten to take into account when I prepared for the weekend was the fact that Minnesota Public Radio pretty much doesn't exist outside of the state. Pretty much every other NPR station has a different schedule, so I missed out on most of Car Talk and all of some of the other shows I wanted to listen to today.

I was surprised by a slightly scary-looking thin median around the area where I-90 meets up with 94 and 39. If a car lost control, it would barely dip before landing on the other side. Dad mentioned that one of the best barriers is actually chain-link fence, since it usually manages to stop cars, but generally doesn't damage them too much.

Anyway, stopped at a Culver's since I'd never been there before. My first impression was, Long John Silvers plus burgers. I had a bacon cheeseburger, and was amazed at how wide the thing was, though it wasn't amazingly thick. I suppose they cook quicker that way.

We went south on 90/39 and had to pay a toll in Illinois. My dad had gone on a trip to Tennessee with Habitat for Humanity just last month, so he sort of knew what to expect, though I still had to remind him to not get in the I-Pass lane...

So, we took a route avoiding Chicago. It's so strange for me to think of it, but Interstates aren't fixtures of the landscape that have been there forever. It just seems like that for me. I-39 is a flat, boring road that goes right down the middle of Illinois. After a while, I took over driving.

We made pretty good time. My dad was thinking that we'd stop in Peru/La Salle, but we were there by mid-afternoon. Got down to Bloomington/Normal by 5:00, stopped at a Steak 'n' Shake in Champaign for dinner, then finally stopped in Danville, Illinois around 6:30 for the night. I would have been happy to keep going a while longer, but I guess there aren't any major stops between Danville and Indianapolis.

We ran into some construction zones I hadn't expected in Wisconsin and around Bloomington in Illinois, but there wasn't any active construction going on. The lanes were squeezed a bit, but we pretty much got through without trouble, except that I got a bit confused by the lane switching required around Bloomington. I-39 ends just north of the area, then we had to jog west a little way on I-55 to meet up with I-74 and go south around the city, then we started east once the two roads split. Kind of a mess, though I guess it's easier than what we would have dealt with around Chicago.

Hmm. One thing that popped into my head while we were driving was the idea of a diesel-electric semi tractor, but I suppose there are reasons why nobody's done that before. I imagine the maintenance for the electrical system would make them unappealing to truckers. Hard to say.

That's an odd thing to end on, but whatever. Hey, look at that, it's Law & Order. Heh.

Posted by mike at February 14, 2004 08:33 PM | Car , Family , Kentucky 2004 , TV | TrackBack
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