一個人的旅行(Ames)

  今天要出發前往位在 Iowa 州的 Ames 市,從 Omaha,NE 到 Ames,IA 的距離還不算太遠(以美國的角度來看),從 Google Earth 上估算的距離為 169 哩,換算成公里就是 270 公里左右。大約 3 個小時左右便可以到達。因為到達 Ames 後還有公事要辦,一早便啟程出發。這是我第一次在美國獨自進行長途的開車旅行,因此行前也特地好好調查了一下在美國高速公路上行車的注意事項與自助加油的流程等。

行車路徑圖

  這次行進的主要路線是 I-80,途中會經過 Iowa 州的大城 Des Moines,然後轉折往北行走 I-35 到達 Ames。美國一般所稱的高速公路指的就是這些州際公路(Interstate Highway),是早期因國防因素而建立的公路網。其中大部份的路段都是免費的,但在州界附近或大都市的路段則可能會收費,那些收費路段稱為 Tollway。不過此行前往 Ames 的路程中所使用到的 I-80 與 I-35 都是免費的。
  
筆直的高速公路

  除了經過 Des Moines 市區時公路兩旁的景色稍微繁榮一點以外,在這三個小時的車程中,其他的景色幾乎清一色是一望無盡的玉米田。讓人不免讚嘆美國的地大物博,但也感嘆如此寬廣的平原已被如此大規模的用於作物栽種…。到達了 Ames 辦完了正事後已經是傍晚時分,濃濃的睡意又瞬間襲來,下榻位於城郊的旅館後,晚餐還沒吃便已經在床上不醒人事…

  辦正事的地方(Iowa State University)

  因為前一晚很早就寑的關係,凌晨三點便醒了,東摸西摸到了早上七點半左右天色才逐漸亮了起來。對我而言,好久沒有這麼「早睡早起」了。美國的早晨總是很涼爽,而且常常起霧,我非常喜歡這種寧靜而涼爽的早晨。

Ames 的早晨

  整理梳洗之後,又吃了一頓難吃的早餐(對於美國的早餐實在不怎麼習慣),便開始準備今天的行程。這次出差的下一個公務行程是在 Michigan 的 Lansing 市,但從 Ames,IA 直奔 Lansing,MI 實在是太遠,途中將跨四個州,因此計劃於今日到達 Chicago 並於當地休息一天後再前往 Michigan。然而僅管規劃了 Chicago 作為中繼休息站,但從 Ames 到 Illinois 州的 Chicago 仍需要長達 340 哩的路程(約 544 公里),是這次來美國最長的一段行車距離,因此養足了精神後便趕緊出發,無暇仔細瀏覽 Ames 的市景。

Ames 市區

  首先第一個挑戰就是加油,昨日行走一百多哩的路程後,油箱已剩下不到 40% 的油量,因此首先就是到加油站加油。從未自己拿過油槍加過油的我,到了一個聽也沒聽過的加油站,刷過信用卡後,看到 Iowa 似乎對 89 汽油有補助,比 87 還便宜,便二話不說選擇了 89 汽油後,油槍一插、鐵片一頂,順利的完成了加油。整個過程並沒有我想像中的困難,經過這樣的經驗後,看來以後可以常去有自助加油的中油加油站了…

自助加油

  接著,我就踏上了漫長的迷路旅程…

迷路又迷路繼續迷路

  經過了多次的鄉野觀光後,終於看到了令人振奮的路牌…

走對路了吧

  接著通過了傳說中的收費站,進到了收費路段也就代表著我的目的地:West Chicago 的 Lombard 近了…

收費站

  美國的電子收費已經是行之有年,其中在 Illinois 州的電子收費稱為 I-Pass,若要走找零車道的話必須閃到最右邊的車道才能進到人工收費站。這裡的收費站不像臺灣是統一票價,這裡的收費站主要是以距離計費,因此我所經過的數個收費站中,出現了許多種不同的價格:$1.25、$.80、$.40 等,同時上下交流道時也要收費,而且必須走不找零(Exact Change)車道,因為交流道沒有人工收費,必須直接投擲零錢,因此這時候車上準備各式的零錢也是很重要的…。當然如果車上有 I-Pass 的話,就不用擔心這些問題了…唯一要擔心的是不小心走錯交流道因而上上下下的話,也會損失一筆小錢…(我就損失不小…)

  總而言之…總算於接近傍晚的時候,到達了芝加哥的郊區 Lombard。

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