Day 2 on the road: onward to Indianapolis

Following our exhausting day’s drive yesterday, Miss D. and I took extra time to rest this morning, rather than make an early start.  That was no problem, because our destination, Indianapolis, was less than four hours by road from St. Louis.  We hit the road by about 10 a.m., and got in at about 3 p.m. local time (changing from Central to Eastern time zones in the process, thus gaining an hour).

The roads through Illinois and Indiana were not very impressive.  I don’t know whether it’s the more extreme climate in the north central USA, or a different way of doing things, or just plain budget shortages, but the roads seem to get worse as we travel further north from Texas.  Oklahoma has some good (the tollway from Oklahoma City, through Tulsa, to Joplin in Missouri) and lots that are pretty bad (I-40 from OKC to the Arkansas border, or US 287 from the Texas Panhandle to the Colorado border).  Missouri had stretches of interstate that were obviously recently upgraded, and quite good, but other parts were pretty poor.  Every Illinois interstate I’ve been on since coming to this country, twenty-odd years ago, has been in poor condition.  Indiana’s interstates around the international airport in Indianapolis are pretty good, but getting there from the Illinois border was a bumpy and uneven ride.  I guess we’ll see whether the stretch to Ohio tomorrow will be any better.

We met up with Mad Mike for supper, along with his wife and their scarily smart daughter.  “Small person”, as Mike refers to her, has two certified geniuses (genii?) for parents, and boy, does it show!  Despite her still very tender years, she’s smart as a whip.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how she does as she matures.  I think she’s going to be a very impressive young lady.  It was good to see her parents again, too.  They’re great people, and Dot and I value their friendship highly.  Mike has an interesting and esoteric collection of weaponry, including a few recent acquisitions that made my mouth water (how about a 19th-century Damascus steel muzzle-loading 12 gauge double-barreled shotgun in very good condition and working order, or a Canadian Inglis Hi-power complete with original wooden holster doubling as a shoulder stock, and the original leather strap, all in excellent condition?).

Tomorrow we head to southern Ohio for a couple of days.  Miss D. has some family business to attend to, so I’ll play chauffeur for her and help as best I can.



  1. Back in the 90-95 era Illinois roads were not good. I could feel it when we entered Illinois from ether Wisconsin or Iowa.
    I figured it was the mob influence, make the roads cheap and redo them every year kind of thing.

  2. "I guess we'll see whether the stretch to Ohio tomorrow will be any better."
    – Bwahahahahahahahahaha!

    "I don't know whether it's the more extreme climate in the north central USA, or a different way of doing things, or just plain budget shortages, but the roads seem to get worse as we travel further north from Texas."
    – Yes, plus extra added corruption and roads that go absolutely everywhere competing for limited repair money.

    Northern weather swings 30 degrees most days. It occasionally does something silly like swing 50 degrees in an hour. And the hard freezes really break up the ground. It also rains more. (April-June flooding is just something you plan around.)

  3. They've been concentrating on the north/south I69 the past couple of years, extending it from Indianapolis down to Evansville. I69 north of Indianapolis is also being widened to 3 lanes from 465 north.

    465 always has construction on it, I think they just keep going round and round it.

    There was a couple days where the potholes were so bad they had a dozen or so cars pop a tire. They used strip patching for a more permanent fix. Those seem to have held up well through the rest of the winter and spring.

  4. Welcome to Indiana! Our roads are rough for a couple of reasons, part is the "frost heaving" thanks to some pretty severe cold weather the last few winters and the other is the massive volume of truck traffic we get on our highways. Still, ours are better than Michigan's roads. The roads near my house are pretty bad thanks in large part to horse drawn buggies.

  5. Yes, there are some physical reasons for the roads in the Midwest. One is that they do take more stress from the temperature cycles. Another is geology – especially in the higher Midwest, much of the ground is glacial fill from 10k years ago, when a good part of the upper Midwest was glaciated.

  6. Take a gander at the corn crops as you drive through. In northern ILL and southern WI they will NOT BE 'knee high by the fourth of July'–not by a long stretch.

    Get your cornflakes and canned corn now. There won't be any by January.

  7. Speaking as a resident of Ohio for quite a number of years, now, my neighbors over in Indiana seem to have chosen an odd strategy for their highways. It does have something of an Indianapolis-centric focus, as George and Keith_Indy have noted, but they haven't ignored the rest of the state when it comes to upgrades and new construction. The new southern segment of I-69, the Hoosier Heartland Highway (US-24/IN-25) in the Wabash Valley, the upgrade if US-31 in Hamilton County to an expressway, and the new Kokomo bypass are examples. There are also stretches of highway being rebuilt and/or widened. For example, a 13-mile stretch of I-74 between Indy and Cincy is being completely rebuilt. The good stretch of I-70 Peter noted near the airport is to be joined by further widening and rebuilding extending another ten miles west. All great stuff.

    But it seems like any stretch of highway not targeted for part of some major improvement project gets the bare minimum of attention. Those stretches get minor maintenance, potholes patched and the liked, but little else, until the next round of projects are announced. So much of I-70 (especially) and I-74 west of Indy are bumpy, patched, and a bit of a pain to drive. Alas, traveling west into Illinois brings little relief. Often, things are even worse in the Land of Lincoln.

  8. Southern Ohio? Anywhere near Cincinnati?? If near, I will cover lunch or dinner costs for you and your lady.

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