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Starting Out
Every journey begins with a first step, and every road trip with a first day, and those first few familiar miles. Passing through Wisconsin, and Illinois almost had the feel of a daytrip. As with my trips to Yellowstone, and the mountains of the West, it was a meeting with the Mississippi River that made me feel that I was on my way. This meeting occurred at St. Louis. Even so, this is still considered to be a part of the Midwest, these days, though to many, Missouri is considered to be a southern state.  

My first rest stop, just after crossing out of my home state of Wisconsin, and into Illinois. I have been to this stop many times, on various short trips, and weekenders; but this time it is different. I stop. pick up a map, and a few things to read, and prepare to hit the road.

I love rest stops, and always feel strangely at home, within their bounds, no matter where my travels might take me. There is a comforting consistency to these places, wherever they might be.

A wind farm, in Illinois. I have also seen these in Wisconsin, and a couple of other states. It is one of many sources of alternate energy being tested.

The corn cribs, fields, and harvesting gear of a more conventional farm.

A farmer's field, out in Illinois. Much of the Midwest looks like this, once outside of the cities. This is the flesh, bone, and spirit of the country.

One of a number of farmsteads that dot the quiltwork of the countryside.

Approaching St. Louis. Now I feel as if I am coming to the west, if not the Southwest. For most of the colonial period, and much of the post colonial period, this was the frontier.

Coming across the river brings the visitor into the West, the state of Missouri, and the city of St. Louis. Quite a few transitions, for a mere few miles of pavement.

A look at the skyline of St. Louis. This is about the best view that I was able to get, coming down the freeway. On a future trip, I hope to visit a while, and get to know the place.

For several decades, this was a source of aircraft (in particular, the F4 Phantom), and an in industrial powerhouse. Before that, it was a center of commerce, and a jumping of point to the frontier. Now, sadly, this is the most violent city, per capita, in the country, with a population of less than half of what it had once been..

A bit over half way through my first day, and here is where the excitement starts to come in. This is where I begin to feel as if I am leaving the Midwest. Seeing signs like this, make you feel as if you can go anywhere.

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