The Circus “Officially” in in The West

I’ve always thought of the mighty Mississippi River as the dividing line between eastern and western United States. Today the Central Indiana Circus Crew crossed over the big river and move from Illinois into Iowa. We eventually made it all the way to ……. Let me start at the beginning of the day.

We had bedded down for the night at the Hampton Inn Bloomington (Illinois) West. I’m not a great fan of hotel breakfasts especially when there is a Bob Evans Restaurant across the street. Half of the group chose “Bob” and the other half decided that the hotel offering was right for them. I was in the Bob group. Breakfast was standard fare but the coffee was good. Maybe too good for a long day trying to make miles .

We pulled out of Bloomington and jumped right onto I-74. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you know how I feel about pounding miles on any interstate. Mike was kind enough to take the driving chores once again. Our targeted landing spot was Albert Lea, Minnesota. I guess that I could have shot several pictures of 6 guys, two vehicles, and two trailers running somewhere near the speed limit for most of the day. Nobody wants to see those pictures. We successfully transitioned from I-74 to I-80 and continued onward.

We did manage to pass a truck stop called “Iowa 80”. The day was getting hotter by the second and we decided to save that for another day.

Once we crossed from Illinois into Iowa it was time for a refill on the tow vehicles. Since the truck takes diesel and the van uses gasoline stopping at truck stops serves us well. Mason checked on facilities on our route and found a Love’s brand stop at a small town called Newton, Iowa. If you are a race fan, which I am not, Newton should be familiar. As for me I was quite surprised when I discovered that today was one of the more popular races on the Indy Car circuit. Guess where it occurred. Yep – right across the highway from the Love’s Truck Stop we had chosen. Our timing was good as the racing action had actually started and most of the crowd was already situated and out of our way. We even had time to grab a snack and sit in air conditioned comfort.

Taken from the Love’s parking lot – literally across the street. Our situation could have been a test of patience.

Vehicles full, passengers full – it was time to make some miles. Some 30 miles from Newton I-80 intersects with I-35. The voice in the GPS said “turn here”. We didn’t argue – it was too hot.

The truck just kept reminding us that it was hot – 101 degrees F.

I think there may have been one too many coffees consumed at breakfast as the bio-breaks were getting closer together. I would like to say that we traveled a long distance to read this historical marker. The truth of the matter is that it was located adjacent to the rest room at a conveniently placed Iowa rest area.

Now we’re only about 85 miles from our hotel and it only took one more stop to make it there. No pictures of this one – there were no facilities only some trees and tall shrubs. I think you can figure out what those were used for.

It rained for maybe 5 miles but that dropped the temperature from the balmy 101 to a more comfortable 80 degrees. I think that is what Red is celebrating here as he tries some “lemonade”.

Must be a new brand of lemonade.

The lower temps were most welcome by all of us. Also welcomed was a family friendly restaurant right next door to our hotel in Albert Lea (the AmericInn). Once the circus train was parked for the night, we walked across the street to Applebee’s.

Circus Train at rest.
Good food and gooder conversation. Thanks guys.

According to the Henry Tracking Meter we covered 445 miles before we stopped for the night. That puts us half way to the Black Hills destination. Tomorrow will be a long 600 miles but we’re hoping there are some diversions along the way. If you live in this area, the circus may be coming to your town.

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