I’m starting this log of our adventures partly into the trip, and may post later about our departure and the first travel day. We’re on the road — Oregon or Bust — as we move to our new home in Portland from our former one in Carlisle, PA.
Judy and I are travelling in two vehicles and of course our black lab, Maya, is with us.
After spending the first night of our trip in Bay Village, just west of Cleveland with our colleagues Wayne Arneson and Kathleen Rolenz, we were on our way to Madison by 8:30. GoogleMaps suggested just over 8 hrs driving time. It actually took us about 10 with stops. Good thing we gained an hour by crossing into a new time zone!
We passed through some beautiful country in northern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and southern Wisconsin. Bypassed Chicago by going south and west of the city on I-80 and I-294.
We’ve encountered a lot of highway construction. The economic stimulus and infrastructure improvements are hard at work, even though there is so much more that needs to be done to make our nation’s infrastructure robust, safe, and efficient.
Travelling with a dog in the summer means not leaving her in the car for even a short time, so those 10-minute stops for a quick bio-break and to grab a cup of coffee turn into half-hour pauses as we take turns walking and watching her while the other uses the facilities. She’s been pretty nervous about the whole adventure. Stopping at turnpike plazas with megatrucks, strange smells, and lots of hot, hard pavement doesn’t make the trip any easier for her.
Fortunately the weather has been quite fine so far. Not too hot, only a few raindrops. (More below about a storm after we arrived in Madison.)
Judy’s “little” brother, Nat, lent us two walkie talkies which have been a real boon. I highly recommend them for communication between vehicles on the road, though they have quite limited range as we’ve discovered.
We missed the exit from I-294 to I-90 just west of Chicago. Immediately came to a toll booth and then managed to exit and find a small park where we pulled up the iPhone map to figure out how to repair the goof.
Alas as we made the left turn from the park across a busy street, we got separated. I was in the lead but could not find a place to stop and the entrance ramp to 294 was poorly marked. Judy found it, but by then we were out of walkie talkie range. Fortunately I had managed to recharge my cell phone (lost the car charger somewhere, need to get a new one today). But we miscommunicated about whether or not we would stop at the next service plaza (I think they were called “oasis” in IL — another misnomer). So I drove on slowly in the right lane, expecting Judy to catch up while she stopped and searched the parking lot of the service plaza. All was forgiven by the next stop and we were happy to be safely back in our little wagon-train convoy.
The real adventures began after we checked into our motel (Red Roof) in Madison, chosen for its alleged convenient location and the fact that they allow dogs at no extra charge. We inquired about a dog park and the desk clerk made a suggestion and handed us a map. The map was poorly drawn and key streets misidentified, and she didn’t tell us that we would encounter major road construction. Nor did she mention the deluge that was about to begin. We found the park, Maya got a short romp, and we all got soaked when the skies opened up.
On the way back to the hotel, the “convenience” of which is already in doubt due to an odd frontage entry road, we were about to make the left turn onto the frontage road when we noticed several police cars at the Verizon Wireless store right there. Cops were running around the building and one of them opened the door of the store and ordered everyone out and across the street. About 20 or 30 people came running out, including customers and staff, looking very worried. And the cops blocked the street, the only way back to the motel from the north-bound lanes of the highway. Soon a firetruck arrived and firemen/women began a search of the outside of the building. Don’t know what it was about, but I’m guessing perhaps a bomb scare related to the current Verizon labor dispute.
It was still pouring rain, almost too hard to see the road, but we made two U-turns and drove a mile or so past the motel to the first opportunity to turn around. By this time in addition to being soaked, we were late to meet a good friend and colleague for dinner.
Getting to the restaurant was also an adventure due to yet more road construction making it almost impossible. We were so pleased to be met by Scott Prinster, who had been waiting for us at his favorite Madison restaurant, Sardine. The dinner was a fare-well gift from the colleagues we have spent years with in a support group in south-central Pennsylvania. It was such a fine gift! And they are such good friends. We’ve been through a lot together in our ministeries and our personal lives, become good friends with deep affection and care for one another.
But once we were there, warmly greeted by Scott, and discovered that the hostess had held our table for us — for a half hour — in a very busy and full dining room — and been served drinks, all was well. The meal was fine — we had gazpacho followed by steamed mussels, steamed mussels followed by grilled bass and local vegetables, and grilled sardines followed by duck breast on cheddar grits (yum!). Desserts were quite fine. I especially liked my choice of the cherry butter cake. When we left the restaurant, the storm had passed with only some lingering lightning flashes across the lake to the east and an almost-full moon shining on the water.
So now we’ve had a good night’s sleep and will be heading for Minneapolis soon — less than five hours according to Google, where we will be staying two nights with friends.