Thursday, August 02, 2012

US Hwy 30: Back On Track

Yesterday morning I drove the short distance south from my overnight camp to rejoin US Hwy 30. I know this picture doesn't look like much, but it was good to see the familiar route signs again and to know that I was getting back on track.

You may recall that I left US Hwy 30 a bit east of Chicago and have rejoined somewhat west of the city. So, technically speaking, I have omitted about 100 miles of my coast-to-coast coverage of the highway. All things considered about driving my rig through the dense -- and reportedly very difficult -- urban roadways, I'm cutting myself some slack on conformance to initial plan.

The drive through western Illinois was generally scenic, mostly offering views of substantial farms and their roadside facilities.

The roadway itself was decent is some places, and pretty miserable in many others. US Hwy 30 is a very old route, and many of the road beds show signs of not being improved for many decades. The basic construction is concrete slabs, heavily patched and seam-sealed, which results in a pretty rough, undulating surface. Between the solid suspension of my long-bed truck and the extended length of my camper sled, it felt like we pretty much bounced our way across the state.

Every now and then, the route passes through small towns in widely varying condition. A few are fairly tidy, showing some signs of prosperity and even a bit of technological modernity.

Other towns give the impression of having lost their battle with aging, and bespeak the effects of being quite literally "passed by" over time.

In this area, Interstate 80 runs parallel to US Hwy 30 only about 20 miles to the south. No matter how much of a main thoroughfare this old highway once was, it is impossible to compete with the efficiency of a modern interstate. The roadway itself and the towns along it have clearly suffered from long term economic deprivation, even neglect.

In due course, I crossed the Mississippi River and entered the state of Iowa. Despite the fancy sign, warm welcome and modern bridge, the roadway and towns continued in the same fashion throughout my approach to the medium-sized city of Cedar Rapids.

In contrast to all of my previous US Highway expeditions -- where RV parks have been numerous all along the routes -- US Hwy 30 has offered very few places in close proximity to the road to stop for the night. In this area there have been none available, a condition which I suspect is due to the same economic effects of the nearby interstate now carrying the bulk of the traffic.

Whatever the reason, I diverted about 20 miles north of Cedar Rapids to find a tidy RV park just across the interstate from the small town of Urbana. After two solid days on the road, I'm taking today to catch up with myself and check out the surroundings… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

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