Anderson, In to Eau Claire, WI
Upon waking, Kay asked me if I intended to exercise in the fancy-pants fitness center in our hotel. I was tempted – it felt kind of stupid to bypass real equipment in favor of my kettlebell later – but I was a little emotionally wrung-out and restless after yesterday, so I just wanted to hit the road. We packed up and got the heck out of dodge, after a series of mishaps:
- Kay lost one of my socks when doing the laundry (I loved those socks! And now I only have one pair)
- I went to grab complementary breakfast and an entire sports team of teenage boys was ahead of me – bad timing
- Opting to bypass the line of boys, I went for a hotel coffee, only to dump it down the sink – alas, no good coffee for THREE WHOLE DAYS! My head might explode
- I was trying to get ahold of my grandpa to see him before we left town, but he wasn’t answering his phone
After dawdling as long as I could reasonably justify, hoping to reach my grandpa, I gave up and we headed out at around 9:30am.
Kay generally takes the first shift driving, as he’s freshest in the morning. (I am, too, but I let him because he needs to feel like he contributes ;) So he drove us through Indianapolis, while I directed him when to change lanes and gave him a play-by-play of where I used to work, how to navigate, etc. I probably should have been driving to save us the trouble, but it was fun to reminisce.
Took the loop road and then headed northwest toward Chicago. This stretch was long and boring, with intermittent periods of heavy traffic the further north we got. Not terribly surprising given that it’s Labor Day weekend, but just enough to keep slowing us down.
At some point, we stopped for a break and I sent Kay into a Love’s truck stop with the vague directive to “get me something snacky. But not potato chips. Maybe some sort of packaged baked good.” He returned with a Godiva chocolate cookie, and a salted caramel chocolate cookie – from a fast food restaurant – that had been heated up. I’ll be damned if that wasn’t exactly what I needed. Win for the hubby!
We swapped drivers at that stop, because Kay was getting bored… which meant I was the person who got to drive us through Chicago. I generally hate driving through cities – I find it stressful, and I get road rage when people behave like assholes – so we keep hoping that Kay will be the one to drive us through major cities, but it keeps not working out that way. I drove us through another major city on Thursday – don’t remember which one. And I had a really bad one when I had to drive us through NYC last year or the year before. Stupid cities with their crazy interchanges and vanishing lanes and construction and asshole drivers.
After making it through Chicago, what felt like hours later, we stopped for lunch at one of those strange service plazas that straddles the road, giving access to both directions of the interstate. I grabbed Sbarro’s, because I’m pre-emptively tired of fast food and thought pasta might make a nice change. Mistake. I know I shouldn’t eat there, but every now and then I forget and I give them a try and get disappointed all over again. Kay grabbed some kebab wrap thing from a shawarma place, which he was skeptical about, but it turned out to be tasty. Yay him! He won today’s game of Food Roulette.
Back on the road, and we were bored again fairly quickly after the meal. Days on end of interstate is just… repetitive. Especially in the middle of the country where there’s nothing in particular to break up the visual monotony. So, we start taking pictures of random things along the way. For you dear readers. Not because of the mind-numbing boredom.
We hit Wisconsin, and noted the state’s inexplicable love affair with water parks. (Seriously! There’s one like every 30 minutes. Massive things, typically with both indoor and outdoor offerings.) At some point, I was bored and my butt was tired, so I randomly searched Yelp for “coffee.” Found a place 10 minutes away with 4.5 stars, so we went for it. We were only a mile two from the exit we needed to take, but a 5-mile diversion through the farms and cornfields of the Wisconson countryside didn’t seem too auspicious… and yet, when we encountered the no-stoplight town of Lodi, Wisconsin, I was pleasantly surprised with the coffee from Downtown Coffee Grounds. Kay got into the car, and saw the coffee cup sitting in the cupholder, and observed: “I see that you have drunk from the coffee cup. And yet you haven’t dumped it – it remains in the car.”
To which I responded: “Yep. I intend to drink this whole damn cup!” 12 oz of respectable coffee glory, from a random little town in middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin. God, I needed that.
Back down the road a ways, we opted to stop at a rest area about 45 minutes out from our destination tonight. It promised a scenic overlook, and we were all a little bored after covering ~450 miles. Kay and the dogs and I piled out and started walking through the grass… and all of a sudden, fuck! Ow! Horrible biting bugs of doom! I handed off Ben’s leash to Kay, and took off running toward the bathroom building to get away from them. Yikes! When I came back out again, apparently they had even gone after Kay – he warned me that I might not want to stand around – so I quickly dragged the dogs off to traverse the grassy strip in the middle of the rest area at a vigorous pace. “Come on, dogs!” I cajoled them. “We’re like sharks – can’t stop swimming or we’ll die! Can’t stop walking or the bitey bugs of doom will get us!” For once, they listened, and let me drag them along instead of resisting to stare after Kay. Maybe they were getting bitten, too.
Safely back in the car, we covered the rest of the way to our stop tonight. We felt relatively ok – a little mentally tired – but when we tried to unpack the car and then go for food, it became apparent that we had crashed. We brought some Hardee’s back to the hotel room (Seriously, Hardees? Your portions of french fries are tiny! Not that I need all the fatty fried stuff, but still…) and the food restored our brains a bit. After recovering for a bit and entertaining the dogs, I suggested to Kay that we should go take a walk with the dogs before we lose the light. He agreed, so we randomly took off left from our hotel – and a few minutes of walking brought us to a giant soccer park! There were probably a dozen soccer fields – so much wonderful grassy space – so after looking around for other people and critters, we let the dogs off leash for a romp. It was much needed – both people and dogs frolicked around the well-maintained pitches, getting a nice stretch and blowing off some steam after a long day in the car. Lita, in particular, zoomed around a lot. We were glad to give her some good exercise, because she was so good about hanging out in the car all day.
Back to the hotel, and the dogs were energized after their run. They thought it was very boring when we started mucking about with our computers. I suggested to Kay that they should have bully sticks – we brought a few with us for emergencies or special occasions – and this has made them very happy. Now I’ll get to finish my writing tasks, and do my Duolingo, in peace.