Last week I drove to Bloomington, IN, picked up RichKnepper and drove to Chicago. I left Central PA's long troughs of turf to wend my way up into the mountain keeps of West Virginia. Wheeling surprised the crap out of me, though.

PA has tunnels through mountains, but I was not prepared for the immediate transition from mountain tunnel to suspension bridge that Wheeling has. I felt like I had just taken a giant leap of faith and having survived, I should most definitely scatter some debris from my car upon the bridge like some visibly relieved Harrison Ford.

Past Western Virginia, there are only the simple and unforgiving signs that you are in the West. Skimming the radio yields country music and listings of what production lines are closed at the local plant ("Lines 2 & 3 are shut down for 2nd shift due to power problems, looks like you can sleep in"). The landscape degrades from farms to decrepit infrastructure until finally it's all just decrepit infrastructure and slightly wooded suburban developments.

The American Midwest needs several good-sized lakes/seas. Luckily, the coming centuries will most likely provide another one (that's actually 7.5E7 years ago, but it'll be nice to have some more beaches to develop ;).

West Virgina can be quite beautiful. I have been in some out of the way places there and thought it was very nice. Now, I wouldn't live in those places, but they were nice to view. I saw more than a few gentleman with pickup trucks that had their beds filled with coal. That was pretty interesting. It's easy to forget that a lot of places are still doing things the same way they have for generations. - Nathan