Oct 3, 2009
Chicago: The Drive
Elijah, still in his pajamas, and me hanging out at our first roadside stop on the drive to Chicago, a Stuckey's/DQ in Indiana.
About three weeks ago Babs, Elijah, and I took our second-to-last trip of a very busy traveling year to the great American city of Chicago. Since January, we've flown from the States back to Saipan, gone to Guam, Australia, back to Ohio (via Japan), Florida, San Francisco, back to Florida, back to Ohio, Florida yet again, and finally this driving trip to Chicago. Needless to say we're about traveled out. Fortunately, our last trip of the year isn't until November when we go to Oregon for Thanksgiving.
The main reason for the trip was so that I could go to two U2 concerts that weekend, but we also had a lot of fun together as a family.
We left Dayton around 7:30 Sabbath morning. We were aiming to meet some "Interferencers" (members of the U2 fan website I'm a member of, Interference.com) for lunch in Chicago but we ended up missing them. It turns out Elijah is not a great road tripper--at least not at this age. It's just really hard for him to be strapped into that car seat for such long stretches of time. He's usually good for a few hours, if he's sleeping, but if he's awake, he quickly gets cranky. At the outset of our trip, Elijah had just awakened from a full night's sleep but hadn't eaten breakfast. We had to pull over after just an hour of travel.
We'd been thinking it would be nice to stop off at a Cracker Barrel and enjoy a nice country breakfast. (We felt that when we stopped we'd need to stop for a decent amount of time so that Elijah could get out some of his pent-up energy). But he was getting so insistent and no Cracker Barrels were on the horizon, so we decided to pull over at the first place we could. We ended up at a lonely little Stuckey's/DQ somewhere just inside Indiana.
Intially we were the only people in the place. Well, us and the bored looking woman manning the counter at the DQ. It was not a pleasant visit. The diner reeked of the stale oder of old grease and cigarette smoke. The pictures of the various fat-laden menu items were unappetizingly bright and garish. I took one look at the menu, at the dingy kitchen behind the counter, and the unenthusiastic server/cook and decided I was not ordering any meat. I ended up going with an "Ultimate browns" meal (minus the ham) and Babs got a hash brown for Elijah and fried mushrooms for herself.
Feeling a little apprehensive about breakfast at Stuckeys/DQ.
The food was terrible, especially those mushrooms. Even the excessive grease couldn't redeem their awful flavor.
Elijah was fine though. He enjoyed his grease-soaked hash brown immensely, along with the healthier items like grapes that his mom brought along for him. He entertained himself by charming the few other customers that eventually dribbled in and trying to grab Stuckey's kitschy collection of tourist curios.
The grease left behind by Babs' fried mushrooms. You'll also note a chunk of fat-soaked mushroom batter on the napkin. My stomach feels queasy just looking at it!
Done at last. Me and Feller outside the Stuckeys/DQ.
Back on the road, we traveled for another couple hours, until we stopped again at another gas station maybe about an hour outside of Chicago. There was no need to fuel up--our fuel-sipping Corolla got us there on a single tank--but Elijah had awakened from his nap and was demanding to get out of his car seat.
This time we didn't bother with the food in the restaurant attached to the gas station. Instead we laid out a blanket on the grass across from the fuel pumps, and let Elijah crawl around and have a little snack while we enjoyed the balmy air and sunshine.
Babs and Elijah enjoying a beautiful Sabbath morning in front of the gas station. We were pretty close to Chicago by this time, up in the northwestern corner of Indiana.
The view from our picnic blanket. Not exactly postcard pretty, but the day was nice. You can see our red Toyota in this picture.
After about 45 minutes we were ready to push on through to Chicago. We arrived in the city around 1:00 P.M. Chicago time, about six and a half hours after we left home.
Chicago at last!
Fortunately, the drive home Sunday night/Monday morning was much easier. Elijah slept through the entire trip then and we got back in about five hours or so. Still, I don't think we'll be taking a road trip with Elijah again until he's a little older. It's much easier for him on the plane where he can move around more during travel.