Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ain't That America?

Dateline: Madison, Wisconsin
Another early start to the day and I departed the eastern suburbs of Columbus, Ohio at dawn and drove west on Interstate 70 through downtown and across rural eastern Ohio, passing Springfield and Dayton, the birthplace of American aviation where Orville and Wilbur lived and worked their entire lives. It was another day of good weather as I set my sights, first for the broad expanses of central and northwestern Indiana, with the hope that I could make it through downtown Chicago before the evening rush hour began.

I crossed into Indiana at Richmond, where my family lived briefly when I was in high school. I stopped for gas and took a quick drive around town and was surprised just how little it has changed in 45 years. Then again, nothing seems to change quickly out here. That is what I like about the Midwest. As I drove west toward Indianapolis, which has, perhaps in spite of itself, grown into a major metropolitan area which even hosted the most recent Super Bowl, I could not seem to shake lyrics penned by native son, John Mellencamp:

Ah but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby

I didn't notice any little pink houses as I drove deeper into Indiana, but I think I know what Mellencamp was talking about when he wrote this song. It doesn't get much more heartland America than this. On this trip I have gone in search of an America I remember from growing up here in the Midwest. I am finding it in every direction I look.

I breezed through Chicago under sunny skies which turned overcast the farther north I drove. I ran into some light snow as I passed around Milwaukee and arrive here in Madison as night fell and the temperature began to drop. After two days of pleasant driving, I am afraid I am in for a rough patch tomorrow.

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