Our 2021 Road Trip #46: The Final Five Photos

Bug-killer car!

A parting shot of the Nissan Altima, our replacement rental lent to us in Cedar Rapids, and its new coat of 3000 miles worth of bugs.

…or, How We Spent Our Independence Day 2022.

July 4th was a perfect final day for our vacation. We lost interest in fireworks years ago — the self-lit kind as well as lookalike public displays — and our families rarely invite us to any gatherings that day, which they’d presumably much rather spend with unrelated friends and/or alcohol. All the heavy holiday traffic largely flows away from Indianapolis rather than into it. Eastbound I-70 was largely our personal domain for our final three hours on the road.

Crane Flag!

A solitary nod to the occasion: a US flag hung from a crane outside the Mahomet McDonald’s where we ate lunch.

To our relief, very little of consequence occurred — sunny skies, no gridlock, and the occasional billboards, some more amusing than others. We’d passed a lot of memorable messages and unexplained portents throughout our ten-day excursion:

  • One of those hurray-for-human-qualities PSAs, this one starring a John Wayne-like figure: “Don’t like quitters, son. GRIT: pass it on.”
  • A far-west declaration of “Trump Country USA”
  • A Mexican restaurant ad proclaiming, “Food so good Donald Trump would build a wall around it”
  • A Big Boy statue in the middle of an otherwise empty yard
  • The posted welcome to Alexandria, Minnesota, “Home of Tastefully Simple!”
  • Wisconsin’s LED warning to holiday revelers: “You’re not a firecracker. Don’t get lit.”

…and so on. You can learn next to nothing about a town from its cryptic billboards unless you Google their contents while driving, which is now illegal in some states.

Who Is Jenna Wirth?

We thought maybe Jenna Wirth killed Frances McDormand’s daughter, but nope, she just sells insurance for one of my employer’s competitors, who used to have obnoxiously staffed booths at Chicago comic cons.

broaster chicken mascot!

One last oversized animal mascot at our final short stop for bathrooms and snacks.

We always love that sweet relief at the “WELCOME TO INDIANA” sign. It means we’re an hour or two from home, it won’t be long before we can return to our own comfy furniture, and we’ll no longer be trapped in the same car for days without a true moment alone to ourselves unless you count secluding in hotel bathrooms or getting separated at tourist attractions. Vacations are great, but I wouldn’t want to live life that way nonstop. Travel is how we break routine. We would never want it to be routine.

Welcome to Indiana!

Hello again, deciduous forests and unremarkable farmlands. We’re definitely nowhere near Yellowstone anymore.

We arrived home at a surprisingly reasonable hour, dumped all our stuff in random piles, and began the sorrowful process of saying goodbye to the rental car. The Altima had served us well through thick and thin, through a few hundred miles of thunderstorms, through 100-degree heat waves, through curvy mountain passes and empty highways, through big cities and small towns, all of it performed with the best MPG we’d ever gotten out of a rental vehicle up to that point. (We broke that record later in the fall, in a smaller road trip whose tales have not yet been told. Coming soon.)

I stopped for one last fill-up a mile from our place…


…went inside to use the bathroom, and realized that one of the leftover McNugget sauce packets I’d stuck in my pocket had exploded. Several minutes and several cheap paper towels later, I emerged and finished the errand. So the day almost passed without incident.

Also worth noting: a ten-day round trip out west to Yellowstone and back again had produced nary a live bear sighting. If only we’d known, we could’ve safely brought along a pick-a-nick basket and saved money on troubled restaurants.

The End. Thanks for reading! Lord willing, we’ll see you next road trip, which we should probably start planning now.

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my faint signs of life between entries. And no, there’s no scene after the 2021 Road Trip end credits unless someone out there requests another outtake collection. We got dozens more pics, none of them mind-blowing! Ask away!]

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