Sunday, September 17, 2017

US12: The Longest Day

Happy and I had a day off in Willmar, MN, yesterday. We found a nice park for her to run around in, but only a closed-on-weekends museum for me. Dogs rule! Otherwise, we hung out, relaxed and went to bed early.

Possibly because of the extra rest but mostly because of noisy neighbors, I was wide awake at 1am. I looked over at Happy and saw she was sitting upright in her bed, looking for guidance. I said "Why not?" and she wagged her tail, so we got up, packed up and hit the road in the dark of night.

US12 east of Willmar, MN, is a two-lane affair that passes through a seemingly endless series of small towns. It was dark and misty out, so I saw very little and you'll see even less. Approaching Minneapolis, US12 turns into I-394 then becomes part of I-94. Shortly after St. Paul, US12 branches off and continues as a rural road.

As it became light, we were able to see many small, tidy, prosperous-looking Wisconsin farms.

We stopped for breakfast shortly after dawn and found that we had already traveled as far as we'd planned to for the day. While pondering what to do, it occurred to me that Sunday might be a good day to get around Chicago. So, we got back on the road and kept moving.

US12 weaves around I-94 all the way to Madison, WI, forming the western beltway of that city. It's not as fast as the interstate, but the variety helped keep me alert. After Madison, US12 becomes a road of its own, cutting diagonally SE to Chicago. It is an alternative to I-94 which heads east to Milwaukee then south along the shore, and I-90 which heads south to Rockford then east.

The route is so significant that it is cosigned as an alternate to the interstate most of the way.

The traffic was heavy despite it being Sunday, but we made reasonable time approaching Chicago. As always, I decided not to drive the surface streets through downtown, opting instead for a quick interstate bypass. Before long we were into Indiana and have stopped in Michigan city, where we planned to be tomorrow night.

The "bad news" is that we drove over 12 hours today. The "good news" is that we've banked ourselves another day off tomorrow! We were in this area a few years ago on US20. As I've posted before, pretty much all the roads "pinch" around the bottom of Lake Michigan. Right now, US12 and US20 are only a mile or so apart, with US14 and US18 thrown into the local mix.

We'll see what tomorrow has to offer in the area, with plans to head for the terminus of US12 in Detroit on Tuesday... Stay tuned!

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