They do a strange thing in southern Wisconsin and northern Iowa. Rather than sending their highways over and around mountains (as they would, Alex thought, in the civilized world), they’d shave the top couple dozen feet off of a hill, but only as much as was needed to create two lanes in each direction, plus a median.
So David Santangelo drove his aging Camaro, like six white horses, not so much over as through the rolling hills of the Midwest, until, after all, he finally started to see signs for Saint Ignatius, Iowa.
Saint Ingatius is a hamlet, roughly halfway between Dubuque and Davenport along U.S. Highway 61, that exists for two purposes: first, to provide a post office, liquor store, school, gas station and pizza delivery service to the surrounding dairy and sheep farms. Saint Ignatius counts among its population some 6,430 souls, spread out across ten times as many square miles.
It’s a town that has more sheep than people and more traffic circles than sheep. If you get off the exit for gas, or food, or to use the toilet, you’re liable to have to navigate half a dozen roundabouts before you encounter the Shell station (run by the family Nygaard for three generations) that serves as the primary navigational waypoint for the city.
If you’re so inclined, you can see a monument erected to the westernmost point of the advance of George Rogers Clark’s Illinois Campaign during the Revolutionary War, but very few visitors ever are. Most often, they’re happy to take on fuel and drink at the Nygaard Family Shell and perhaps to sample a slice or two of the four cheese pizza at Ristorante La Forgia, have a pleasant conversation or two with a genial local (because, let’s face it, all Iowa locals are friendly to strangers for at least fifteen minutes), and be on their way, whether it’s to Dubuque or Davenport or even more exciting lands, such as Omaha or Cedar Rapids or Madison or sometimes even Chicago.
Saint Ignatius, Iowa, in short, is like tens of thousands of other agricultural hamlets across the Midwest—some local businesses in service of the larger city purpose, surrounded by farms.
But what sets Saint Ignatius apart from other, similar cities, is that it is the Mecca of sex tourism in North America.
And that’s why David Santangelo was driving his Camaro there in such a hurry.