Day 2 had us waking up just outside of Chicago. The nice thing about having a 31.5-gallon fuel tank is that we could do a full day of driving (at least 10 hours per day) on a single tank of gas. According to our computer, we could go about 570 miles, averaging around 18 mpg, so we wouldn't need to fill up as often as most people on the road (who aren't driving semitrucks).
Still, with Midwest fuel prices hovering around $3.80 per gallon, we're talking about $100 every time we stopped. And thanks to my overly cautious credit card company - which likes to automatically shut off my card in $75 and $95 increments, depending on the filling station - that usually meant I had to use the pump back-to-back times to get my tank full. Ugh.
From Chicago we headed north to see an old high-school friend, who I had just learned that morning was in Madison, Wis. We were still on target to get to Lincoln, Neb., before turning in for sleep that night, assuming we didn't hang around too long.
We timed it to arrive in Madison for lunch so that traffic wouldn't be too bad. Unfortunately, there was a lot of highway construction on U.S. Highway 12 in Madison, and I'm sure traffic would have been even more horrible later in the afternoon. After a quick tour of my friends' house and man cave (I have got to get one of those), we had a good lunch that included a substantial dose of reminiscing. Of course, I made sure we didn't tell too many of the "wrong" stories with my daughter at the table, who seemed quite interested in all of it.
Soon we were heading back to Interstate 80 for more westward progress until we stopped at the world's largest truck stop, just outside of Davenport, Iowa. For those who have never seen this place on TV or have not had a chance to stop by, it needs to be on your bucket list. It's crazy.
Not only is this place big, but it has a semitruck and trucking museum, the biggest truck customizing store you've ever seen, and more custom rigs in the parking lot than you'll find anywhere in the world. And if you want huge food and coffee selection, or home-cooked food, or a relaxing massage, or movie theater, you have everything you could want under one gigantic roof.
We will say, especially since we got a later start on the day due to our Madison detour, that getting through Iowa to the Nebraska border seemed like it took forever. These are long states, and it wasn't fun driving west at sunset when you still have to get two hours down the road. Eventually we made it to Omaha, where we needed a quick fill-up (and to clean off all the dead bugs from our windshield and grille) to be ready for tomorrow's early morning start. I dragged my grumpy passenger out for a photo here.
We didn't have much time to stop and do any sightseeing, but we did pass through the birthplaces of Ronald Reagan and John Wayne, as well as Madison Country, famous for all those picturesque bridges. During this section, a good-sized storm was southwest of us, so we had a constant headwind pushing us around for about six hours of our drive. That had to hurt our fuel economy. Average speed, according to the trip computer, was 68 mph.
By the time we pulled into the hotel parking lot, the Cabela's across the street was closed. It would have been nice to spend some time there, but we still had work to do at night and probably a little more the next morning.
Two days of driving and almost 1,500 miles added to the Avalanche's odometer with just three fill-ups. Not bad. At our fill-up in Wisconsin earlier in the morning, the computer said we averaged 17.7 mpg, while our calculations told us we got 17.9 mpg. That evening in Omaha, our computer told us we were averaging 18.4 mpg, while our own calculations reported 17.2 mpg.
Next stop: the Rockies.