Something that has been on my mind as I traveled the country was a computer game I used to play far too much: Civilization. You start off and build one city. It is essential you build it in the right place. Your goal at the beginning of the game is to build three cities. The capitol city is never the biggest or strongest as the game progresses.

I played the game for endless hours. You start at 4,000 BC. I took many civilizations to the end–which I believe was 2020 actually? Traveling America, I can see the placement of cities. By rivers, by fertile land, my mountains. You can even break it down state to state. Look at PA. You have three main cities, with Harrisburg, the capitol, being the smallest behind Philadelphia, a river city, and Pittsburgh, a manufacturing city.

America is like that grid at the end of the game of Civilization. The game ends by either conquering all of the other civilizations or winning the space race. But all of the cities are there, with the populations and manufacturing outputs maxed out.

The Mississippi was America’s first super highway, and cities sprang up along it. It’s tributaries created cities as well, like Peoria and the Illinois River. Maybe that is my thing about rivers and bridges?

Peoria? Well, it’s not like I was going to Chicago. The drive to Peoria reminded me why. I don’t know how Illinois police know if a person is swerving because they are drunk or just getting their butts kicked by the wind. I do love Chicago in the summertime, though. But it’s getting chilly. Months ago, I had to break out a hoodie when I woke up in Colorado. It was chilly. Now, it is getting cold. About a month back, I took the liner out of my jacket and have had to use it more and more, but only in the mornings. It was just 85 degrees! –a thousand miles ago. Today was the first day I put the liner and jacket back together and wore it for the drive. I don’t see things getting warmer. Looking ahead at the forecast, I’m seeing wind, rain, and snow showers.

I was hoping the nice weather held out a bit longer but there will always be the southern states for that I guess. “Cold” in Tulsa is 50 degrees. Tulsa is nice. So is Austin. Maybe Sedona?

Yeah, it’s getting to be that time I think. The drives aren’t as fun anymore and “next” is weighing on me. I figured out what “next” is, but I need to be somewhere to put it together. Or maybe the weather just has me down? A couple shitty nights in consecutive hotels? Leaden clouds ad to the oppressiveness with crinkly corn husks blowing across the highway.

But then who knows what is around the next bend or over the next hill?

I’m in Coralville, next to Iowa City. For those keeping track, Iowa is state number 43? The next six will be tumbling like dominoes I think. Then. Finally.

I dreamed of something after I sold my lab. A small thing. After working as much as I did or as long as I did, all I wanted was to sit in the warm sand with one of those foo foo drinks with an umbrella in it and do nothing. My cousin, Dawn, bought me the umbrellas. I’m saving them to sip coffee for my final column in this series. I plan on cheating like hell too. State 50. Picture. Link to the book I already wrote on the Big Island.

44 tomorrow. I was going to stay here another night but I just found out the thirty or so young girls screaming through the hallways are staying another night and then kids are coming in for college stuff–Iowa City is home to Iowa University. It’s supposed to rain, A cold rain.

PS. I found this interesting. I’ve been forgetting to empty my GoPro. This is the drive from Little Rock to St. Louis to Peoria to Iowa City. I think it’s a pretty cool progression (with two trips over the Mississippi).