Road Tripping (#5) – Going to Chicago

Road Tripping (#5) – Going to Chicago

jordanAs we left Columbus—our bellies full from a complimentary breakfast—we followed our GPS’s directions, heading west to Chicago.

Jordan was our driver today, as we have decided to alternate driving days. We spent the miles talking and decided we would be a good team on The Amazing Race. We would call ourselves “Team 50 States.”

There are many caveats to the idea that we would be a good team on any adventure show—one of them being that I would need to stop frequently at rest areas to stretch and use the facilities. I’m not sure the producers would enjoy those respites…they don’t really make for good television.

sanitary door openerIn one rest stop bathroom, I found what was being advertised as a “sanitary door opener,” as well as another sign that read, “storm shelter.” Both I was lucky enough not to use, but I did wonder why only the women’s room was labeled as a storm shelter. Did the state plan to save only the women? And, if everyone is using the sanitary door opener, then does it not eventually become unsanitary?

almond butter crackersI made a quick lunch of graham cracker and almond butter sandwiches, as Jordan complained, as he has since boyhood that the butter is never evenly spread on the cracker.

I told him, “Sometimes you get a little and sometimes you are surprised by a bounty. It’s fun! Keeps it interesting.” (Plus, I’m always looking for interesting metaphors to describe life. I like that one and will use it in my classroom.) And, the moral of the story—whether it is lunch or life, just enjoy it!

wind turbines

All at once, large wind turbines seemed to take over the landscape. I have seen this before in California, but each time I am amazed at the sheer number that disturbingly dominate an area, like the aliens in the television show, “Fallen Skies.”

Our rather deep conversations continued. He asked about my childhood and my relationship with my parents (something this blog was not meant to delve into; years of professional therapy took care of that).

Suddenly our GPS (which we nicknamed Jill…everything seems to be getting a name on this trip) told Jordan to take a right exit off the highway on to a road that he was unfamiliar with. He followed Jill’s head-scratching directions.

deserted road 2Take in mind this strange and new set of directions was given to us in Gary, Indiana. I soon discovered that Gary is one of the most unnerving places I’ve ever been, mainly because we never saw any people—just huge industry, some operating, most abandoned.

Right turn. Left turn. Deeper into this maze and when we emerged, we were on a six lane highway with no one. Absolutely no one else. Not another car in sight. I literally took pictures to prove it. Everything seemed post-apocalyptic, the city was deserted, and no one was travelling in either direction on the huge road. There were unruly weeds growing on the side of the road, as if no one had ever cared for this bit of highway in decades. Keep in mind that this was two in the afternoon, and we were headed to Chicago. For four miles, we traveled alone on Route 91 West.

I told Jordan to slow down, “in case it just drops off, unfinished”. Jordan wanted to stop in the middle and take pictures of this strange world—barren, deserted, and just miles from Chicago.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we saw one car. It was far off in the distance, but still there. We both yelped in relief, gasping in deep breaths of what we realized was very foul Indiana air. A combination of the city of Gary, our fear, and profuse nervous sweat left our car’s interior reeking.

We stopped at a McDonalds on the immediate outskirts of Chicago, rolled down our windows, said “hello!” to some folks around us, and then dove into the drag race of lanes, everyone trying to get into Chicago.

Team 50 States—1; Gary, Indiana—0.