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Driving through the Midwest by freeway is like listening to a dial tone for eight hours. On the freeway, every mile looks like the last. Every bridge over the road says COUNTY HH on it. Every billboard touts a motel or a fast-food joint. Every time you round a bend, it's like walking through a door into a room that's just like the one you left. No towering redwoods, no mountain ranges shouldering their way into the sky. We have plains, which is scenery flat on its back. Sure, it's uncomplicated, requires little effort. You could say the same thing about a coma.

I've a simple rule: the worse the road, the more interesting