I head south into Iowa, one of the corniest of the corn states, with the looming threat of a winter storm. Big deal, I’ve been through worse. When I was in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, it snowed a whole couple of inches and we coped. Well, there was chaos and almost everything shut down, but we did it with aplomb.
So although you wouldn’t notice from my terrible organisational skills, I have been planning on coming to America for a number of years. During that time I made various notes of things I wanted to see, which unfortunately has left me rather like Guy Pearce in Memento: I’m following the advice of a younger me and I have no idea what I was thinking, which brings us to Eden Prairie Public Library:
My journey to Chicago begins with a trip on the Metra system: double-decker trains. Seats above and seats below, what a revelation! We’ll get right on that once our rail system learns how to cope with leaves, the wrong kind of snow, too much heat and, worst of all, people wanting to use it.
Within hours of leaving the bleak cityscape of Detroit, I’m in the gently rolling hills of northern Indiana. I go from the sprawling, broken city to the compact, quaint town of Angola. Indiana’s contribution to the pithy mottos adorning their welcome signs is “Crossroads of America”, which is surely code for “you don’t have to stop here, keep moving”.
When I mention to people that I’m going to Detroit, people give me a look. It’s a look as if they’re dedicating to their memory what I look like, so they can tell reporters later: “He was so full of life. Well, he was pale, gangly and ginger, but it was sort of like life.”
After leaving the bewildering world of Canada, I head towards Cleveland, the “greatest city on Earth” . Cleveland is primarily known for … something, possibly. Oh, I know, it’s known for LeBron James [L: Ix-nay…]. Oh, well, how about the Cleveland Br—[L: You know, I’d just avoid sports altogether. Their last success was Jesse Owens.] Okay, well, there’s got to be something impressive about Cleveland. [L: It was ranked the 11th most dangerous city in the US?] So it couldn’t even break into the top ten? This place sucks.