After the sprawling suburbs of the Chicago area - nice-looking neighbourhoods well planned around natural defects - lakes and the like - came miles and miles of patchwork. Each patch with its own house or set of house and buildings.
It reminded me of a flight I took between Shanghai and Xian (in China, in case you didn't know), except that the patches were smaller in China and the houses simpler - usually just one simple hut.
Rivers and railroads are the only things to stop the uniformity of the chequered world. But these are two of nature's most unstoppable forces. Or at least they were in the past.
This part of the world is flat. Flat and covered in plaid farmland. Occasionally there is a rash of houses to make a small town, but it is soon cured, and the healthy, flat farmland returns.
After about 10 minutes, the land ages. It gets wrinkles. Initially, it appears not to be aging, but the wrinkling effect of water, in the guise of a big, old river. But even after the river has gone, the wrinkles increase. They become lumps, bumps, ridges. The checks are lost (presumably in the post) and the wild abandon of hill country takes over.
The free-for-all lasts a short while, but soon, the checks seem to take back over, but then a battle ensues and for a long time a compromise exists. Checks appear where the hills have not claimed their turf. This was the most interesting area to look down on. An area where man has not won outright.