"Fortune marveled at the vast openness of the West as he passed abandoned houses and towns depopulated by a changing economy," Eblen writes. "Many people had lived in their small towns all their lives, but their children had left in search of jobs and a more exciting lifestyle. He saw human despair on Indian reservations, and noted there was at least one bar in every Western town, no matter how small, and gambling machines in every bar and gas station."
Explorers often like to draw boundaries, and we tend to agree with our friend Bill on this one: "The cyclists agreed that the West ended and the Midwest began when they crossed the Missouri River in eastern South Dakota near the Minnesota line," Eblen writes. "Gradually, the empty country gave way to tidy farms and farmhouses and well-kept small towns." (Read more) For the blog version of Eblen's story, with a very nice, three-minute audio slide show from Fortune, click here.