Mr State Trooper, Please Don’t Stop Me!

Day 6

“Time to wake up,” I said, gently shaking her butt. “C’mon, we have a long drive today.”

7CAD8F89-806C-4042-9591-0A3FD15D1609She opened one eye and looked at me with disdain, bordering on disgust.

“We are leaving Albert Lea and driving all the way to Chicago today.”

“Ok, ok. Just give me a minute,” she groused.

I then walked over to Fran and gently woke her up too.

While Fran was in the shower I took Rosie out for her morning walk. The gas tank was already filed and the cooler was filled with fresh ice and stored it in the car.

Thus far on our journey we stayed in Choice Hotels. This is the chain we used on our last cross country trip, and again, they were rewarding frequent stayers with a $50 gift card for every 2 stays. When you are on the road for almost a month, they add up. Plus breakfast is included in the hotel rate. Over the past two years either the hotel chain degraded significantly, or the breakfast was less enticing (not nearly as good as memory made it) or our tastes and expectations changed. Plus the rooms are twice as expensive as last time (due no doubt to the same faulty memory on my part) with noisy air conditioners. I will say without exception the hotel staff was friendly and helpful which almost made up for the lack of quality. We will be changing chains for the third half of our journey.

Eventually we left Albert Lea and headed east on I-90. Chicago was 400 miles east and D49F75F2-9656-4D77-AE7E-EA728427A54FGoogle Maps, affectionately known by those who use her as “the bitch” told us it we would arrive in 6 hours and 11 minutes, or 3:22 PM.

”Dad? “ asked Rosie. “Will there be any big animals today? You know I don’t really like big animals.”

”No, Rose. There probably won’t be any animals at all.” (We did actually see 2 deer killed by cars on the highway and I saw one in a stand of trees a dozen yards off the road.) “Today is just driving. You can go back to sleep and we will be in Chicago before you know it.”

Through South Dakota most of the highway was straight and flat. Once we crossed the Minnesota border the terrain added some character as it started winding through a few low hills. We even passed a ski area, albeit a small one, even by eastern standards.

”Are we there yet, Dad? Rose asked. “You said we would be there before I knew it, and I know it now. Are we there?”

Falling back on old reliable I answered, again, “No Rosie, we are never there, we are always here.”

Unsatisfied, she persisted, “Not funny, Dad. You use that all the time and its wearing thin. Try coming up with something new and pithier.”

”Pithier?” I shot back. “A dog is suggesting I be a bit pithier?”

”Don’t blame me. You made me what I am today.”

We stopped for lunch at a Fuddruckers. The one we used to frequent in South Florida closed 20 years ago and despite some less than stellar Yelp reviews of this one we decided to give it a try, if only for old times sake. Surprisingly, it was about as we remembered. Nothing great but not bad either.

We resumed the trip around 2PM and I noticed the bitch had added an hour to the trip, we would now arrive around 4:22. Part of the reason was the “Road Work” sign that informed us there would be 42 miles of one lane 55 mph interstate ahead.  Also, there is a $10,000 fine and 14 years in prison for hitting a road worker. Luckily, for 42 miles I didn’t see a single road worker working. Eventually the road “no-work” was over and we sped back up to 80 mph (sorry officer if you are reading this, I meant 70 mph.)

39 miles from out destination the bitch told me we had 1 hour and 33 minutes left. A moment later we were stuck in a traffic jam. As usual, she was right, to about the minute. Large city traffic, you don’t have to love it, you just have to live with it.

Note to self: leave during non-rush hour time, if there is one.