Illinois is the state that feels the most like Europe sofar. People have told me that California is a lot like Europe in many ways, demographically and politically. But it feels definitely foreign, especially since the Netherlands are closer to Scandinavia than Spain. Illinois reminds me of Germany and France in places and is flat like the Netherlands itself in many others. It’s green, cities have compact city centers with concentrated shops and even the names on the streets have a clear root in Western Europe.
Before driving south, I checked out St. Louis’ Zoo, which is free, though free is a relative term if you need to park your car somewhere in the middle of a city center. It’s not bad as zoo’s go, but all in all zoo’s depress me. Having apes sit at a window, looking back into their pen tells you something about their state of mind. From there, they don’t have to look at all the humans gaping at them and they can survey their empty living area, pretending the zoo is not there. Seeing the bears, elephants and rhino’s hide in remote corners of their living area’s pretty much sends the same message. Only small creatures seem unfazed by all the human attention. Zoo’s are a necessary evil if you ask me, to raise awareness, but I don’t think anyone could seriously argue these animals are in the right place for them.
Illinois offers plenty of wildlife in the … wild too. I actually had to swerve dangerously twice in order not to kill a raccoon. Judging by the roadside however, I’m pretty much alone in that effort. On a 100-mile trip I have seen at least 5 recently killed raccoons. Then again, perhaps the automotive public needs to help evolution along and kill off all the poor raccoons that think it’s a good idea to sit in the middle of the road. Onwards to Memphis at any rate. And I promise to get some nice pictures online soon.