Michigan City, Indiana and Harrison Lake SP, Ohio
When I was planning this route I asked Bill "Am I nuts to want to drive through Chicago in the rig?" Naturally he said something brilliant and supportive like "Of course not! You should do what you feel like doing."
So I (naturally) did just that!
Following I-90 is easy and there's lots to see <corn>, but not real exciting. Driving through Chicago changes that. The aforementioned brilliant and supportive navigator makes sure I'm in the correct lane so I don't have to rely on the last minute benevolence of commuters, who undoubtedly think we're on the wrong highway, to let me change lanes. Surprisingly there isn't another RV in sight :-)
Throw in the required construction, and the fact that we're in Chicago! and want to look at it while driving, and it's very exciting.
Perhaps most interesting is the plane engulfed in flames at the end of the tarmac at Chicago O'Hare! It is completely black, and the flames are being extinguished by two fire companies. Holy! Oh, it looks like a training exercise :-/ Whew.
|We're really here|
What is much less fun is figuring out Toll Booths. It's the same highway, the booths should all be the same! Nooooo, every single one is different.
The first one has an open lane that you can use if you have the EZPass, or pay later online. They should ALL have that lane.
NONE of the rest have that lane. So far anyway, we have miles of toll roads to go.
The rest are a confusing combination of staffed booths accepting cash or credit card or EZPass or combinations of these - you have to read fast - and the un-staffed nightmares that don't tell you what you will be paying until you're committed and the lane is blocked with the bar thingy.
The worst by far is the credit only lane with the machine that won't take my card, or the second or third card, until the umteenth attempt and some colorful verbalizing that I'm sure is the difference in its finally taking the @$!&* card......
So - Chicago driving, fun. Toll booths, not fun.
In spite all this, we make good time, and are set up in our site at Michigan City Campground before the anticipated storm starts. A blessing because it rains for hours. With recent flooding in Northern Illinois I'm particularly glad we're on a small hill, away from any rivers.
Bill braves the deluge to take Tessa outside. She fails to appreciate his sacrifice.
|Not impressed with the weather|
We don't plan to tour Soldier Field, but we do want to see it, take some pics, say we've been there.
We don't however want to pay $22 to park! Sooo, we drive around it a couple times and get no pics because there is not a single place to stop nearby.
The oldest of the NFL stadiums, Soldier Field is beautiful. And weird. The all-glass oval inside the 1920's concrete columns is quite the mish-mash of styles. It does look cool, just very different.
Chicago is a stunning city. It looks like I thought it would, and yet I'm completely surprised by its beauty - and its size. Los Angeles' skyline is a burg by comparison.
And then there's the whole giant lake next door.....wow.
Big city, lots of people. Lots of cars. I didn't plan well for seeing anything of significance, and we definitely need several days to see everything we'd want to. At least we can have some deep dish pizza!
|Two perfect pies|
|Jalapeno and black olive for Bill|
|Anchovy for me|
|Perquods Pizza is a local favorite and feels like I imagine Chicago should|
|Is 2 inches a lot? It doesn't sound like a lot....|
|Fortunately the traffic wasn't like this yesterday.|
Wednesday we're back on the road. The Toll Gods have taken pity on me and instead of five booths, we pick up a ticket from the first one, and pay for it when we get off the highway 100 miles later. Much better!
One thing I really like on this route are the Travel Centers. Instead of rest areas with restrooms and a couple picnic tables, these stops on the freeway have a gas station, huge parking area, market, fast food stop, and usually a Starbucks. No hassle with finding each one, they're all right there together, with very easy access. They should be mandatory on all Interstates! Unlike toll booths.....
Mid-day we change time zones again, and enter our 15th state - Ohio! Where corn is still king.
Our GPS, Randy, leads us to one of the corn fields (thanks, we've seen it!) instead of the state park. Bill asks Gabby (Google maps on the phone) to take us the rest of the way. Which she does. Eventually Randy attempts to redeem herself by "re-calculating" onto the same route. Too late! We're following Gabby!!
Harrison Lake State Park is the most popular park in Ohio. It is beautifully maintained with the small man-made lake, 50 amp electric at each site, water spigots and dump station at the entrance, beach volleyball court, basketball court, soccer goals, swimming beach, disc golf course, kayak and canoe rentals, and a small dog beach. With all this available, it is still very quiet while we're here.
Not unlike our previous stop, the rain comes soon after we park. In buckets! Looking out the windshield is like standing behind a waterfall. Fortunately it lasts about 30 minutes and the night passes without further precipitation. Tessa is much happier with this schedule.
|Our view upon arrival|
|and then the heavens open up!|
|The same view in just minutes.|
|Small lakes form around us.|
Thursday we take a short drive to see rural America. The humidity has been joined by increased bugs, and being outside is not enjoyable. We get gas in Fayette where a funeral home, insurance office, and auto parts store are the only other things open in the tiny town. The farmhouses and barns are lovely, and we enjoy the peacefulness of a life style that is completely foreign to us.
And there's corn.
|I fall in love with this old brick beauty|
|This design is over every window|
|I don't go near the door. I've seen the movie.|
|Still holds equipment. Reminds me too much of Twister.|
|White clapboard farmhouses are all surrounded by large green lawns - everybody owns a riding mower. Or three.|
|Well maintained local cemetery|
|We're told the corn is grown for fuel|
|I don't know how we could be dependent on foreign oil - this field times 400 million in five states!|
Here's hoping we leave the muggy and buggy behind!