Ann Arbor to West Des Moines
The trip actually began the night before we left (Day Zero), with the acts of filling up then hooking up a U-Haul trailer—yes, in that order. Which means that once the trailer was full of dozens of boxes (it looked like we had robbed a Crate and Barrel; spoils from our recent wedding), a coffee table, another table, and a TV stand, we proceeded to lock up the trailer, and begun the process of turning it 180 degrees. We both grabbed the tongue (that bit that connects the trailer to the hitch), and on a count of three, lifted and turned the vehicle as far as we could. It took about four or five attempts. It was a good workout; both of us had sore lower backs the next day.
Day 1 dawned hot and sunny. We left around 7:00 AM, Neal at the wheel, and me sleeping sitting up in the passenger seat—fitfully—for about four hours. I didn’t miss much; I’ve driven that stretch of I-94 quite often, though this time we bypassed Chicago and thus its traffic. Our route, to I-80 and points west, took us to Iowa. There is not much I can say about Iowa; it looked like much of the rest of the Midwest, perhaps with more corn. We began listening to our audiobook, On the Road, which Neal had read part of before losing his copy in Europe, and which I had not read at all. Kerouac—or rather, the voice of John Ventimiglia, best known as Artie Bucco from The Sopranos, who was narrating the audiobook—said the prettiest girls of all lived in Iowa. I did not see enough of them to make a judgment either way.
The Marriott hotel where we stayed was updated and trying to be trendy, at least on the inside. Behind the reception desk hung artful photographs of corn stalks. Metal-etched cornstalks grew on the dining room’s walls where we ate a lazy meal. (Lazy, because we didn’t care to leave the hotel, and explore all that West Des Moines had to offer.) We were one of only two couples at the restaurant. The other pair spent much of their meal cozying up to each other, and kissing—loudly, wetly—in the half-privacy of their booth. (Meaning, we could not see them from the neck down, thank goodness.) Later, in the room, I joked that those two obviously weren’t married. Neal made a face at me.
We had been married one week.