I think I slept pretty well. Outside the first light of the dawn is slowly arriving in Chicago on Thursday, April 26. My goal is to be packed, loaded, and driving out of Lincoln Park by 6:15. My packing prep work the previous afternoon was a big help.
I dress, put the couch back together, and complete my daily devotional routine. Breakfast is next. Whole wheat grainy bread, sliced bananas, peanut butter, and honey make a sandwich. That is joined by a cup of blueberry yogurt and some cranberry juice.
Two trips are made to the car with assorted items. Luckily, I remembered not to lock myself out of the condo. A final pit stop is made. I make one last look for any misplaced items. Seeing none, I exit a still sleeping condo. In my heart, I whisper goodbye to the Princess, Hudson, and their weary caregivers. When I enter the car, the clock read 6:14.
Armitage to Lincoln to LaSalle to U.S. 41, also known as Lake Shore Drive and the Lake Michigan Circle Tour are my starting points. This was a good time to leave. There is traffic, but it is not crazy Chicago traffic yet.
A bright sun and blue sky christen the lake. Even though, I’m driving easily along, I already miss by co-pilot/navigator.
I’m working my way toward Interstate 90, or the Skyway. When I cross the state line into Indiana it becomes the Indiana Toll Road. Getting to I-90 is a series of well-marked turns for U.S. 41. From our past drives to Chicago, Nahna has trained me well. I miss none of the turns. Soon, I’m at the Indiana state line.
It isn’t long before I’m entering the ramp for I-90. From there my next connection is I-65 which I will follow all the way to Louisville, Kentucky.
Traffic isn’t heavy, and I watch commuter trains running parallel to the interstate.
Connecting with I-65 south goes smoothly, and the gritty steel towns of northern Indiana are behind me. Gradually, the landscape becomes farms. Acres and acres of farms are on both sides of the interstate.
From a distance, spring is still stubbornly slow in showing up. But some farmers have plowed their fields. That turned over soil reveals a rich palette of chocolate hues. Those flat farm plots are sprinkled with tree lines, farm houses and their buildings, and gray roadways. Those roadways are a means for breaking what appears to be a solitude of loneliness in every direction.
Near Remington, Indiana, I exit for some gasoline and a potty break. Back in the car, my cell phone rings. It is our youngest daughter, Elizabeth, checking on me and to wish me safe travels.
Back out on I-65, I continue to push south. Tractor trailers are plentiful in either direction. Parts of I-65 are getting some much needing repair attention. A few of these sections require using the right shoulder lane of the interstate to keep traffic moving. This makes for some tight quarters at times and attentiveness to the worn out road surface.
I always stare in wonder at the massive wind turbines north of Lafayette. Today, the three-pointed, rotor blades are almost motionless out on the flapjack farmland.
No interruptions with traffic flow, and it isn’t long before Indianapolis is within reach. I hold tight to I-65 as the downtown section of the city starts to come into view. I always forget this is the home of Butler University.
I wonder what kind of morning they are having back in Chicago?
The push south continues. Those northern Indiana farms are gone. Getting closer to Kentucky, I’m starting to see more of the greening of spring. I haven’t traveled on I-65 going into Louisville in a few years. On recent trips, we have taken U.S. 35 through Ohio and West Virginia.
If my memory is correct, new bridge construction was a traffic factor the last time we traveled through Louisville. But that wasn’t the case today. A new bridge spanned high over the Ohio River. Connecting to I-64 had been improved too, and it wasn’t long before Louisville was behind me.
I stopped at the Kentucky visitors center just outside of Shelbyville for a little break. Also, I checked in with Nahna as she had sent a couple of text messages. Then, I stopped again in Shelbyville for gas and to do some rye whiskey searching at the local Kroger—yes Kroger. But, they didn’t stock the Pikesville rye whiskey I hoped to find.
Back in the car, the state capital Frankfort is coming up. This is followed by the rolling hills of Lexington. Green pastures, some spotted with horses and pleasing fence lines at times filled both sides of the interstate.
Past Lexington, the landscape continued to change. Hills became taller and assorted shades of rock appeared. At Ashland, I would cross the Big Sandy River, and before I knew it I had crossed the state line of West Virginia.
One of my challenges on long drives is staying awake. But today, I only felt sleepy once, and some peanuts, followed with mints cured that. At this point, I felt like I could make it to Richmond without stopping for the night.
From Huntington, I pursued Charleston where some road construction slowed me down to a single lane, but we kept moving. The twists, turns, and steep grades going up and down on the West Virginia Turnpike awaited me. Even with a bit of local rush hour traffic, I kept moving.
Pretty landscapes with a touch of spring appeared like picture frames on a wall. I saw a narrow waterfall splashing over panels of rock that had been chiseled over time by nature.
Needing a break and some fuel, I decided to exit at Sam Black Church. After filling up, taking a potty break, and buying a snack, I asked the cashier about the name Sam Black Church*. I wondered about the history. The cashier had no clue. When I asked him how many times during the day people stop and ask about the name, he said I was the first. But, he did say he might Google the name later.
Before returning to I-64, I called Nahna, and let her know I was heading for Richmond.
The further east I pushed, I tried not to look at the mileage signs. At this point, those signs only serve as discouraging news for me.
Eventually, I crossed back into Virginia, and while it took time, just past Lexington I merged back on I-81 north. Traffic wasn’t too heavy.
During this section on I-81 before reconnecting with I-64, my sister in North Carolina called me to make sure I was still living. I affirmed that I was and thanked her for calling.
Daylight was fading, and I kept pushing. It seemed like forever before the connection back to I-64 arrived, but it did. Into Waynesboro daylight had disappeared. Surfing the radio was helping to keep me awake and focused.
Though I was becoming more frazzled, I continued to drive with a purpose. Thankfully, a few minutes after 9:15, I was home.
I called Nahna. Unpacked the car and fixed a couple of pieces of cheese toast.
Before collapsing, I sort out mail and newspapers, check land line phone messages, and today’s e-mails.
Finally, I’m. Ready to head upstairs.
With a prayer of thanks, I’m ready for sleep.
But before closing my eyes, my mind thinks about my family in Chicago— I hope that Hudson is sleeping too.
* Sam Black Church
I decided to do a bit of research on Sam Black Church.
Today, it is a United Methodist Church. It is small white framed building located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. The church was named after Sam Black who was circuit riding Methodist preacher. Built in 1902, the church earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.