John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

July 24

Our destination from Cleveland was Chicago. Although it meant a drive of 600 kms, it also meant not having to stay in one of Ohio's lesser lights (no offence Ohioans, but the culture appears as interesting as the landscape). Accordingly, our trip was long and uneventful as we passed by the likes of Fremont, North Monroeville and Sandusky and just avoided the tawdry temptations of Toledo. On into Indiana where we actually increased speed so that Elkhart, Fort Wayne and the bleak industrial town of Gary were a mere blur (how did "Gary, Indiana" even make it as a song in The Music Man?).

We arrived in Chicago via the Richard Daley (pere ou fils, I'm not sure) and in dense smog from the heat, humidity, vehicles and industry. Of course, it was rush hour so we diverted from a possible drive along the lakeshore at the entrance to the city's core and made a u-turn south toward St. Louis. Here we joined approximately 50% of the working population of Chicago in their lemming-like surge to the southern suburbs.

For some reason we were both feeling tired and Brenda was approaching restroom crisis level 3 as we headed south on I-55. We finally crawled by an exit whose signs indicated the presence of a Denny's. A cup of coffee and a restroom break were in order and we welcomed the opportunity to gather our somewhat scattered wits.

It's reassuring how a well-timed break (OK, maybe not so well-timed for Brenda's bladder) can give you fresh perspective. The Denny's was on a frontage road with a La Quinta Inn where we decided to cast our weary lot. It was pleasant and clean enough so we booked a night. Lacking a microwave, we took our dinner at an Irish Pub a block away.

The Kerry Piper's entertainment posters made it look like it really was a jumping place on weekends. Illinois' non-smoking laws go into effect January 2008 and everyone inside here was going down in a fighting cloud so we drank and ate on the deck outside. We're pretty sure that in the freezing cold in January will see the deck full of stubborn smokers, just like home.

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