Saturday, June 18, 2011

lost in indiana

well, I'm not anymore and I wasn't for very long. maybe half an hour. and it wasn't a problem except that I wasn't entirely certain I was heading to the east--something about the sky seemed wrong that early in the morning, and it turned out I was driving southeast, and that wasn't the way I'd intended.

I stopped a couple times at rest stops near the wisconsin-illinois border for naps--the 1st lasted 2+ hours and I listened to an owl somewhere behind me, then I got up, had a quick shpritz in the restroom, and then drove about 3 hours south and then northeast to avoid the chicago pike. the 2nd time I was somewhere outside chicago and settled in for another couple hours in the front seat. after that was pretty uneventful until I ended up heading to detroit after missing the exit south I'd needed. I ended up in portage which seemed like a pretty goodsized town, until the town stopped and then about a block away, the road teed and I had to make a choice. I opted for the left, figuring I'd been heading south so that should be east. and it was except it was on a little podunk 1-laner that had no name for the longest time. I was heading for 30 east and eventually discovered I was on indiana 130 east so I knew I was on the path. eventually I caught 30 east, which is one of those old 2-laners through the middle of the country the interstates were meant to replace but are still good easy-driving roads, red highways instead of william least heatmoon's blue ones.

along about 9 I wanted to stop for a while and found the town of plymouth which seemed large enough to warrant having an open library. it did but I spent the better part of an hour searching for it. fortunately it was a little town of old brick houses where people still decorate the fronts with bunting and most of the stores on michigan street are open. I don't know whatever became of the library sign system that was meant in the 70s to make it simple to discover where any town's library was, and was a godsend to my travels in the 80s, but after driving up and down streets I couldn't find a sign. eventually I settled in a catholic cemetary and used the force, or rather the browser on my cell phone, to find the public library's webpage and map. after a few more twists and turns I found it off the main road and tucked back along a side street, by which time it was open.

this is the beneficial confluence of 2 forms of publically available technology, the ubiquity of solid cell service along high-density roads and the blessed existence of free public libraries with wifi access. now I sit here in comfort, typing this post out, reading a nytimes from a few days ago--today's issue doesn't matter--particularly an article about how social media is helping to sustain dissent in saudi arabia, and I may drop off again into blissful, safe noddingoff before I head back out on the road.

[the illustration, by the way, is by edward basker, an artist who died in 1972]

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