A Thousand Miles

Not just a thousand. One thousand point zero! That’s what the odometer read when we pulled up at New Berlin, Wisconsin, I swear! We have witnesses!

For quite a few miles out of Chicago, the road was lined with businesses. Then they were replaced with farms.


Much of the road was crumbly, alligatored, or rough. There were construction zones with lots of debris; a piece of debris gave us our third rear flat, puncturing the supposedly self-sealing inner tube. And the weather was hot and humid, the air filled with diesel exhaust, soil blown from fields being harrowed, and airborne bits from pavement demolition.

By the time we got to the Wisconsin line, you can see it had been a long hard haul.


But this Wisconsin sight cheered us up a little.


So did the cooling weather.

Then, thanks to the cooling, thunderstorms began.

Jeffrey was pretty bedraggled by the time he was rescued by Michael Polsky, who met him in New Berlin. (I was nice and dry, having spent the day in a plastic bag. But don’t you try it!) We left the BikeE in New Berlin at the home of Michael’s co-worker, and will return to it tomorrow. Michael brought us to the north side of Milwaukee to spend the night. Here’s a snapshot of Michael and Karen in their kitchen:


This morning we stopped for ice cream in an Illinois town. Outside the shop, a man was talking very loudly in a language we could not identify. We could make out some words, though. “Chicago.” “Mafia.” “Police.” It reminded me of the story of the Israeli woman who entered a train compartment in Europe and, before she could say a word, heard one occupant say to the other in Hebrew, “Let the fat cow sit down.” They motioned to her to sit, then resumed their discussion, in Hebrew, of black market activities. When the train slowed for her station, the woman turned in the doorway before she made her getaway, and uttered one word: “Moo.” The moral is, diversity takes many forms, and you can’t assume that your listeners don’t understand you. We have encountered few people here in the Heartland whom we could identify as foreign, but that doesn’t mean they (or people who speak their languages) aren’t here.

A bit farther north, still in Illinois, we stopped at a McDonalds for a cold drink after replacing the punctured rear tube. Judging from the accents, the workers and half the customers speak Spanish as their mother tongue. For all the rural look of the place, maybe we still were in the Chicago orbit.

Tomorrow, as both Chicago and Milwaukee recede into the distance, we’ll see whether there are signs of foreign influence in the rural Heartland. Literally. Like the signs we saw in and around Chicago in Spanish, Korean, Arabic and other languages.

As ever, we’ll tell you what we find.