Day three -- Sandusky, Ohio to Mackinaw City, Michigan via I-90/I-75 (387 miles): Michigan is really beautiful, and I think you’ll enjoy today’s relatively short drive, especially if you stop in Detroit for lunch at Mike’s Famous Ham Place, which is exactly what it sounds like. Take I-75 through the North Woods all the way up to Mackinaw City, where you can catch a ferry to Mackinac Island, a car-free island retreat filled with fudge shops, horseshit, and loud families from Chicago. I am making it sound terrible, but it is actually really nice.
Day four -- Mackinaw City, Michigan to Eau Claire, Wisconsin via US-2/WI-64 (426 miles): Ferry back to Mackinaw City and traverse the Straits of Mackinac to the Upper Peninsula. Yes, that’s right, I’m taking you... (pauses to put on sunglasses) over the top. Follow the shoreline roads hugging Lake Michigan until you reach Marinette, Wisconsin, where you can pick up some locally famous coal-grilled burgers at Mickey-Lu Bar-B-Q. Then head west on WI-64 through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and you’ll eventually reach Eau Claire, the region’s cultural hub, where you should stop for the night. Stay at the Oxbow Hotel -- co-owned by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon -- or the clean and inexpensive Antlers Motel, where Bob Seger may have written the song “Turn the Page,” but either way make sure to end your night at The Joynt, on Water Street, where a glass of Grain Belt costs $1 and light beer is forbidden.
Day five -- Eau Claire, Wisconsin to Omaha, Nebraska via I-90/I-35/I-80 (440 miles): You’ll be seeing a lot of Iowa today, and you should be glad, because Iowa is great. Go out of your way to see Trainland USA, in Colfax, a delightful and massive model-train setup inside an old barn, and afterwards grab a pork tenderloin sandwich at Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe, in Prairie City; both the restaurant and the town are straight out of some lost Norman Rockwell painting. From there, proceed to Omaha, birthplace of the Reuben sandwich and home to the Henry Doorly Zoo. (As you soon will learn, Omahans are very, very proud of their zoo.) Book a room at the Magnolia Hotel downtown, then go see a comedy show at the nearby Backline and tell them that Justin Peters sent you. My name won’t get you a discount or anything, but I’m trying to raise brand awareness.