To Lincoln, in a blizzard.

Trip Start Mar 13, 2013
1
8
21
Trip End Apr 13, 2013


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Where I stayed
Budget Inn Lincoln
Read my review - 2/5 stars
What I did
Snow, and more snow. Mr plough.

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Sunday, March 24, 2013

I didn't journal the past few days because I was too upset. On Friday we went walking around Chicago; I remember seeing the old pump house and fire station and a beautiful church, and ending up at the Public Library where we found out about free walking tours. The walk was fantastic, informing us about the architecture of the city and a little history. We walked via the start of Route 66 and took photos of the sign, and the tiny old metal plate embedded in the footpath. After the tour we went to check out The Bean, the main attraction of which is that you can photograph yourself with the skyline behind you! I needed a much warmer coat than the fashion coat I had on, so shopped at a Macey's sale and bought a down/feather bargain with hood for $127; a pair of leather gloves in Walgreen's were $12. Trusty fish-cat hat on my noggin and I was toasty!

Walking further into the city we found the House of Blues, but as there was only standing room this was not a good option for Shell and her hip condition. Discussing other options we decided on heading out to The Green Mill, an old jazz club that Al Capone and his cronies frequented back in the day. This was great but we got there late and the joint was packed. The mob's old escape tunnel still exists but the public can no longer have a look - it's an  OH&S issue.

On our way walking to Kingston Mines we stopped at a taco joint and had the best burrito I've ever tasted, it had egg in it and was $5 or something ridiculous - the real deal. I did take a pic of the name for a recommendation but didn't know that Future Me typing this out would no longer have the pics of Chicago.

Kingston Mines had been recommended on two separate occasions - our server at The Local and a couple at The Green Mill - for being the best blues joint in town. Unfortunately we made a silly decision by deciding we didn't want to pay the cover, and got back on the train to the city, where we went to a bar closer to home. Very amusingly people were playing giant Jenga, and ping pong drinking games. The music was piped. 

At the end of the night (Saturday morning, around 2am) I put my hand down to take my bag from the hook where it was hanging under the bar, and met with air. I had only put my phone back into it 5 minutes before after taking a photo. It was a bloody big red bag and I didn't see it go at all - very slick. We looked in the restrooms etc but it was well and truly gone - wallet, money, cards, phone (with photos) camera (more photos) new gloves, and fish-cat hat. The flash drive I'd put all the San Fran pics on back at the Copy Place in San Francisco was in the bag too. Thankfully Shell and Rich were extremely gracious and refused to allow this event to ruin my trip; Richard offering to cover me financially until we got home or I got a new card.

I spent until 6am cancelling cards, calling insurance and making a police report. I didn't even have anything to photograph the sunrise over the snowy city. Torturous.

Saturday, 23/3/13

 As far as memory serves, this morning I got up and organised more of the consequences of my bag theft before wandering down the Magnificent Mile to meet Shell and Rich at the Grand Lux Cafe for brunch. Whilst sitting there discussing the nights events and our theories regarding the thief and possible accomplice/s I recalled that I had forgotten to delete the photo's I'd uploaded in San Francisco; they could possibly still be on the pc there. Using Richard's phone I googled Copy Central in SF and called them. While I was on the line the wonderful Mika checked, and sure enough the file Jen's Pics was there, hurray! if I gave my email she would send them to me. What ensued was Funniest Home Videos worthy, or maybe Punked....for at least 15 minutes - I swear I'm not exaggerating - I attempted to spell 'Louise' to Mika without gaining or even building ANY understanding. I repeated (repeatedly), I used the phonetic alphabet, but she could not hear me say the 'L'. Several times she said yes I've got it now but when asked to read it back to me spelled "o...u...i...s...e...?" Torturous for both of us, she put Mike on the phone and we sorted it out. I was sweating with effort and patience and my food was cold. After more communication via email  Mika agreed to send the photos on a disc to Thunderbird Lodge at the Grand Canyon; this cheered me up no end. They didn't even charge me for disc or postage - truly lovely.

We spent the afternoon on a river and lake cruise that was interesting, informative and freezing on any part of the body not covered. Shell and I did some shopping for breakfast and the first day or two on the road. For tea we wanted hot dogs, Chicago style and got them at American Dog, complete with potato chips (crisps) in a bag. I am trying to both feel what I feel so I can move through it and enjoy my time here, simultaneously. On paper what has happened is, after all, a '1st World' problem. After a few drinks along the way home we packed up and tidied up ready for the following day, when we hit the road.

Sunday 24/3/13

Long story short, we drove out of Chicago quite late; it took Rich a bit of organising to pick up the car from the airport, where they did not have the car we'd payed for and forced us to upgrade to a larger car. Concerning for me in terms of petrol costs, as I'd budgeted for a 4 cylinder manual, but c'est la vie. Worse, was that I could not drive as I didn't have a license any longer to show the rental company. I consequently missed driving in the only three states in the eight states we drive through that I have not already driven. On my Road Trip. Thanks a lot Filthy Bag Thief, may your balls turn into lobsters and snap your penis off if you're a man. If you're a woman, may every man mistake you for a man. Or a camel.

On the outskirts of Chicago it started to snow, and didn't stop. In Joliet it let up a little, and we parked to visit the Joliet Museum  and get directions to the jail where Elwood picked up Jake. I bought a black hat and matching sunglasses for my middle son Greg, as a sort of joke; he played a Blues Brother at school once. It feels good to be on our way, gettin' our kicks and following Jerry's EzyGuide to Route 66, the map book I've been going through at night for the past month. I first wanted to drive this road after watching the series Jericho and doing some research on the actual town but the desire has been really strong since my first visit and road trip in the USA with Viv two years ago. 

Leaving Joliet the snow became a blizzard - later we learned it was the worst spring snowfall in 30 years.....and we - by we I mean Richard - drove through the worst of it, until it was getting dark and no longer safe. Richard has experience driving in snow and he got us safely as far as Lincoln with great expertise and skill; at times we could see only the middle of the road, maybe a half to three quarters of a metre of bituman was visible. Next to us on the embankments either side of the I-40 we could see cars aplenty that had slid off the road, and traffic was almost at a standstill. Not on the old road though!

After skirting around the town centre of Lincoln, which had been ploughed - that name again, is Mr Plough..... and using WiFi at Macca's we found nothing else with a vacancy other than the Budget Inn we'd passed as we we entered town so we backtracked and Shell and Rich went in to see about a room. We hadn't eaten and had seen pizza close to Macca's, so backing out in the tracks we'd made coming in, we got out onto the road again and hightailed it to get something to eat. Alas! All was closed except the dreaded golden arches so I sucked it up and ate a burger and fries. 

On return to our accommodation we parked as close to the entrance as possible and made our snowy white way into the foyer. There was some work being done on the place so the state of the hallways were expected and of course forgiven. The filth, however, was not. Without doubt the worst place I've ever stayed in, worse than our first night on the trail in the Himalayas. Checking in was like the start of a b-grade horror movie; we were led to a dank and smokey cave by a friendly guy with missing teeth who told us about his five little dogs up in his room - a permanent resident. A large woman called Nana removed herself with difficulty from her chair and made it to the foyer to sort out our room key, which had been given to someone else.  I kept waiting to see Bubby or Donny come around a corner.

The room was filthy, as was the toilet. A fruit loop was amongst other more unidentifiable items on the carpet. My pillows had dribble stains. Shell & Richard's mattress had a large, suspicious rust-coloured stain, and the sheet had holes in it, which Shell discovered in the process of attempting to get out of bed and getting her feet stuck in them. At least the water was hot. 

The cold rash that began in Chicago has developed in line with my stress levels; I now have it from my knees to my ribs. Joy.
 
Too bad if we get murdered - they won't find the bodies 'til the snow melts.

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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