Thursday, June 25, 2009

Illinois - Chicago, Joliet, Rock Island

“Pretty soon the redness turned purple, the last of the enchanted rivers flashed by, and we saw distant smokes of Chicago via Ed Wall’s ranch, 1180 miles, in exactly seventeen hours, not counting the two hours in the ditch and three at the ranch and two with the police in Newton, Iowa, for a mean average of seventy miles per hour across the land, with one driver. Which is a kind of crazy record.” (225)

(You've got me beat, Dean--The most I've done so far was 800 miles in 13 hours).

“Great Chicago glowed red before our eyes. We were suddenly on Madison Street among hordes of hobos, some of them sprawled out on the street with their feet on the curb, hundreds of others milling in the doorways of saloons and alleys.” (226)

“Old brown Chicago with the strange semi-Eastern, semi-Western types going to work and spitting.” (226)

“headed straight for North Clark Street” (227)

"To get out of the impossible complexities of Chicago traffic I took a bus to Joliet, Illinois, went by the Joliet pen, stationed myself just outside town after a walk through its leafy rickety streets behind, and pointed my way" (12)

“… drove clear through the rest of Illinois to Davenport, Iowa, via Rock Island. And here for the first time in my life I saw my beloved Mississippi River, dry in the summer haze, low water, with its big rank smell that smells like the raw body of America itself because it washes it up” (12).

(via Rock Island)

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It looks like not much has changed with Chicago traffic since Kerouac's day; like New York, driving through the city once is enough to convince me that public transportation is the obvious way to go. I only spent a couple of hours in Chicago this time around (been there before), but I was alright with that. Cool city, but I wanted to make up for the time I had lost earlier that day, as at that point I was still trying to make it to the Black Hills, South Dakota by the next night.

The rest of Illinois wasn't anything spectacular. Joliet seemed nice enough, but after that it was straight through to Rock Island/the border of Iowa. As for the river with its "... big, rank smell"; God, that's the truth. The smell of the Mississippi was the first thing I noticed as I was coming from Rock Island into Iowa. It's not a bad smell, just noticeable, powerful; you can tell you're by a significant body of water. This was at night, so none of my pictures of the River turned out anything close to visible.

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