Day 1:
The passenger gets excited every time he smokes. It's as if each time he lights up it may be the last time his lungs burn with relaxation. The driver painstakingly adjusts his sunglasses, flip-fopping between two pairs, always mindful of the cigarette lodged behind his ear. Having mastered the brief rearview mirror coolness check, the driver rarely exposes his deep-seated sunglasses neuroses to anyone other than the constant observer.

The constant observer rests uncomfortably in the back seat of his parents' 2000 Toyota Sienna with 410,000 miles on it. Three doors open from the outside, two doors from the inside, but it has character. It oozes character. It oozes more character than oil, which never seeps from the engine. Never.

The constant observer divides his time between in-depth analytical discussions with the passenger, texting an individual far too often to be considered healthy, and battling Words with Friends-- of which he is having his ass handed to him in 4 out of 5 current games. Hayseed banks and small farming towns litter the first day and although the clustered communities of northern Illinois are compelling and bizarre in their own ways, things become flatter, smellier, and more eccentric with each mile west of the big, bad city.