"I believe in a long, prolonged, derangement of the senses in order to obtain the unknown." - Jim Morrison
We knew that getting in and out of Chicago was going to be the hardest part of the day, so we made haste to get packed up and on the road. We were curious what it would be like to go walking around a city like Chicago, being from New York and so close to Manhattan had afforded us certain opportunities. We knew what it was like to see tall buildings, traffic, and a ton of people. We thought we knew what to expect when it came to difficulty parking, however most parking lots had height limitations, and we had additional height in the form of our Thule putting us at a whopping 7 ft. 9 in. After driving around for a half an hour trying to find parking, we finally found a lot that would accommodate our height and within reasonable walking distance to the tourist traps. We knew it was kismet when we saw this amazing mural on the side of the lot:
Parking a touch on the outskirts of the city center gave us the opportunity to really walk the streets, and get a feel for what was or wasn’t like home. It was an unbelievably beautiful day, warm, and still early. We knew that if we put up a decent pace we could get to the infamous Cloud Gate Bean before the tourist surge. Only problem with this absolutely perfect day was that I had utterly destroyed my current pair of sneakers prior to our arrival. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a bull in a china shop. I do hardly anything with finesse, grace, or with poise. If there was a sliding scale, I would say I was more akin to a Tasmanian devil than I am an elegant lady. I say this only to emphasize that I had only worn the shoes for a month or two before there were holes, sole ripping away from the shoe, ripped fabric inner lining, and they were bent in places that were beginning to give me blisters. I am also painfully Spartan and saw no reason to replace them. I only wanted a band-aid to cover my ankles and we were going. Joe started to realize that I was no longer causing him to run out of air while traversing the city streets, and queried. Then looked down, and immediately began insisting that we buy me new shoes. I said no, and we continued towards the Bean. Joe kept insisting, I said no, and we went looking for lunch, got lost, wandered in and out of air conditioned buildings, and finally found food in the form of Broken English Tacos Ah.Maz.Ing.
It was after lunch, a lecture highlighting the necessity of new shoes, complete with proof of 2 suitable shoe stores on the way back to the car, and an adamant refusal to get back into the car without new shoes from Joe that I finally begrudgingly conceded to the purchase of new footwear (I did get them on sale, and Joe made me throw the old ones away while we were at the store.) We continued exploring Chicago for a bit longer to make full use of our parking lot fee, and then pointed Hefe toward Michigan.
If I am going to be completely honest with you, we wanted to spend more time to go deeper in to Michigan, but as the days of our adventuring went on, we started to realize that we had a real deadline back in New York. We decided that to make this deadline more realistic and still do the things we wanted to do, we would have to cut some time off the trip (sorry Michigan). We did stop briefly in New Buffalo at Warner’s tasting room for a tasting and a chat, we drove around town in search of a postcard, found one and then made haste towards Indiana for the real excitement of the day – The RV and Motor Home Museum!!!
Normally, Joe and I are exceptional at planning. We had set about our day with the intent of ending in Ohio and we made every effort to allocate time for our ventures in the states we would be passing through. What we forgot to consider was time zones. In crossing over from Michigan to Indiana, we lost an entire hour in the blink of an eye. Crap! We made it to the RV and Motor Home Museum with only 20 minutes before closing. The gentleman behind the counter chuckled at us when we told him about our time zone miscalculation and decided that since we’d missed out on a whole hour of museum time, that he’d only charge us for one ticket. Grateful and pressed for time, we set about the museum path and admired the evolution in travel.
The Museum had gone to great lengths to make you feel as if a trip through the museum was a road trip through history. The path was fashioned to look like a road and the exhibits were in a chronological display, some were in good enough shape where you could go through and look at the interiors of the transportable homes. One benefit to our being there so late was that it was almost deserted. Everyone had gotten their fill for the day, so we could bounce excitedly from one vintage vehicle to another. Thankfully, they let us stay a little late (we weren’t the only ones left after all!) and we were able to see everything we wanted. We realized that we still needed to make it the additional 182 miles to where we were sleeping that night, so we said our thank you’s and got back on the road.
While we traveled, we grew famished and located a Mexican place in Toledo, Ohio that could accommodate my dietary needs. The restaurant was good, but was located in one of the most questionable neighborhoods I ever had the displeasure of setting foot in. True depression had wreaked havoc on the population and it showed. A screaming match had broken out across the street between some neighboring homes, something to do with the garbage filled front lawn, complete with stained mattress. We were relieved to be back on the road in under 45 minutes, and continued our way to stay at the Bayshore KOA.
We drove onward and the sun set behind us, we were tired from the full day of driving and my shoes were fully broken in. Anticipating the great relief that laying down for the evening would bring, we began to discuss how we would sleep for the evening when we heard a sound that was familiar…or so we thought. The pelting sound against the windshield that we had begun to associate with rain surprised us when we discovered that what we were really being pelted in was small bugs. It was a swarm season for a small little gnat bug that liked being near water. We drove for a half an hour through a dense fog of insects and murdered countless millions of them. This intense swarming made up our minds about our sleeping arrangements for the evening. When we arrived at the KOA, we checked in, parked for the night and set about sleeping inside the car for the evening.
It was important for us to get a good night’s rest, because our night’s stay at the Bay Shore KOA was planned for an even greater event; Cedar Point!!! We both love roller coasters and haven’t been on any in ages. We knew that it would be a very long time again before we were near a theme park as famous as for its coasters, so we elected to dedicate an entire day to being thrown around by force and gravity.
We slept comfortably for the night, rose early the next morning and hit the park as soon as it opened. We spent the entire day running from coaster to coaster. Admittedly, I am a junkie for adrenaline. I love crazy adventures, and being scared out of my mind. We screamed for the majority of the day and while we weren’t screaming we were sweating to death in the heat. One thing we did notice is that heat makes Joe and I a little… defensive. The lines for the rides were getting longer, the heat of the day was increasing, and younger teenage kids in the park were getting bolder. One group elected to mess with Joe a bit while we were on line for a ride, and then they promptly regretted that decision.
Truthfully, we had a great day, and it would have been phenomenal if the park was just a little bit more honest about their meal plans (that we had spent a considerable portion of money on). Turns out when Cedar Point says Gluten Free, what they really mean is “No way in hell you are eating.” We searched up and down the entire park for hours trying to find anything that would be safe for me to eat. We had done our homework, and had made sure that there was food; the park insisted there was. When we got there, not one place was safe for me to eat. Stressed, frustrated, hot and hangry, we set about finding customer relations. Conveniently very close to the customer relations was an ice cream shop that didn’t mind scooping ice cream from a fresh container for my milkshake. Hanger satiated by a milkshake and a refund, we left the park after 6 hours of coasters desperate for a shower and to be still.
My brilliant husband had the foresight to book us a room at the South Shore Inn for the night so that we could wash the day away and truly relax before making a long drive the next day towards New York. We also were fortunate enough that in this area of Ohio, there was a pizza place that delivered incredible gluten free pizza to our hotel. There are few things in life that make me happier than being in a freezing cold hotel room in the middle of July, freshly washed, and eating a delicious hot pizza with my husband.
Our next day was dedicated entirely to making our way through Pennsylvania. It was a beautiful drive but a very long one coming in at 450 miles. After a day of eating peanuts and drinking water, we treated ourselves to a fantastic dinner at Sara Street Grill. We found a campground that was still open and accepting reservations called Shady Acres a surprisingly massive and very well tended campground. They were extremely family focused, and we were happy to embrace that mentality….or so we thought. We had a peaceful evening watching a movie and enjoying each other’s company one last night before the pressures of civilization were upon us…. then at around 10PM, some Christmas carolers came up to the tent and loudly chastised us for being quiet inside and not coming out of the tent to watch them sing about ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ in July. Can you imagine??
Now I realize there may be a faction of you out there saying “Well, gee Claire, why didn’t you come out of the tent?” simple really; I was not appropriately dressed for the occasion, nor did I feel like making a big fuss about not being dressed for the occasion. Sleeping in a tent for as long as I have, has caused me to relax a certain amount, and as far as I’m concerned, this is my private home. I have no air conditioning and its 85 degrees with considerable humidity, And I don’t know about you, but most people are in pajamas at 10PM. Add that all up and what you have is an image not appropriate for children. Not to mention, I’m sure that none of them sat in a car alllllllll day to get there, and if they did, they certainly weren’t the ones driving. So yes, it may have been cowardly, maybe even bad neighborly, but we laid in wait as the out-of-season caroling herd passed by to sing out of key to the next group of people unfortunate enough to be outside trying to enjoy their evening.
After the sounds of their carols faded and it was deemed safe, we chuckled about our cowardice and whispered to ourselves about what it would be like to cross the border into our home state for the first time in months. The reality of reality had knocked on our happy dreamscape and reminded us that this hiatus from life couldn’t last forever. We knew that after a short stint home, we would be back out on the road, but only for a short while longer. So, we stayed up this night a little later than we should have, laughing about the carolers on the campground, recalling memories from campgrounds past, stretching out our road reality for just a little bit longer, falling asleep slowly and begrudgingly.