Illinois (again), Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin

Technically this was a business trip, really.. Though somehow I ended up adding five States to my total count!? I’m still surprised this was even possible! I guess the phrase “work hard, play hard” was pretty appropriate for this trip. It involved a lot of driving, a fair amount of photography, not a lot of sleeping, and certainly very little eating (the latter not necessarily being a bad thing).

After a brief three-hour visit to Chicago, to confirm the fact that September is a much better time to visit this city than in the last week of December, I set off on the reasonably short drive to Detroit where I was attending a conference. Obviously I had routed the drive in such a way that I’d be passing through a few places in Indiana and Ohio that were sort of on route. Whenever I say “sort of on route”, it’s usually when people shake their heads in disbelief. Apparently what I call a short detour is a whole different holiday to some people! Anyway, as time was a rather limiting factor, I only really had two brief stops in Indiana, one at Indiana Dunes West Beach, and one in Michigan City, the latter of which I greatly enjoyed (obviously – it has a lighthouse!). And as much as I really wanted to visit Cleveland, Ohio, again time did not allow for the extra couple of hours this would have added to the journey, unfortunately. So instead, I had to make do with exploring the Lake Erie shore, before heading into Detroit.

I’m sure you noticed that I did not list Michigan in the headline of this entry. Of course I do know that Detroit is in this State, but I had such a busy few days working that I unfortunately had no time to explore this city. Maybe another time!

The highlight of this whirlwind trip, however, was Minnesota. Hands down a wonderful State, especially in the autumn (sorry: fall!).
Again, I was there for work first and foremost, but I was lucky enough for one of our vendors to show me around the twin cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul’s) after I arrived. A really fun place I thought, and I think my photos show it! After another day doing work-related things, I then had a couple of days to make my way back to Chicago for my flight home. Initially the drive was meant to be around 900 miles, with a little bit of a detour (see above for definition). However, somehow I ended up driving more than twice this distance..

Dodging the rain and snow (!) meant I was always heading in the general direction of something or somewhere I wanted to see, pulling over and jumping out of the car whenever I spotted something worth photographing. The drive along the Mississippi river was my favourite part on this little crazy tour. I always associate this river with the Southern States, but it just is such a a beautiful area up there, and I’m usually drawn to water anyway. So plodding along the Mississippi on the Minnesota side, I suddenly noticed that I had crossed into Iowa. Well, another State that wanted to be crossed off the list, so I decided, still trying to get away from the rubbish weather, to drive a bit further in. I need to work on my distances one of these days.. I’m still in denial just how BIG the United States are. Add to that, Iowa isn’t exactly the most exciting State to drive through (sorry, Iowans), and unfortunately, once I got anywhere near Iowa City, it was getting pretty late and I still had to make it to my hotel in Madison, Wisconsin (see what I mean about the “little” detour)! So, Iowa is another State to re-visit, maybe.

Now, Wisconsin, to me was another surprise of a State. I had very low expectations, simply because no one I know seems to have anything nice to say about it. But quite honestly, Madison is a lovely capital city, with a beautiful Capitol Building that’s actually open to the public as well. And I have to say, I did quite like Milwaukee as well! It has a certain charm, especially its Third Ward which has almost a Southern flair to it, and has been done up nicely. I can just imagine how fun and bustling this place must be in the summer. Of course I could not leave Milwaukee without posing with the Bronz Fonz, before heading back to Chicago O’Hare.

Watch out for more photos to be added to the North America galleries on the website in the coming weeks!