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Gone with the Windy City

USA | Monday, 10 January 2011 | Views [226]


So... driving in blizzards, Batman, and "pumping gas"; where to begin?

Taking upon my five minutes of experience driving on the wrong side of the road we jumped in the car and headed off down the wrong side of the highway. It actually didn't take too long to get used to - much like how disturbingly edible the American hotdogs are, and how disturbingly unedible the American pretzels aren't. But I have covered that ground before.

Several hours had passed incident-free, and then the snow came. At first we were taken in by its simple elegance and beauty. This lasted as long as it took to start turning the road from the more familiar colour to a very apparent white. All was going fine until one of the many trucks that litter the roads decided to test its ice skating skills. As the car in front of us managed to stop just in time let's just say we weren't quite as fortunate. A tiny nudge on its bumper had us using our best Aussie accent to talk our way out of the situation. Luckily their car was fine and we all just able to mosey on. 

Speaking of the highways, I think they are actually just masquerading as truck parking lots. I have never seen so many in my life. The ratio of truckers' hats to regular hats that must be on the American highways would be astonishing. 

The rest of the trip went event-free and we checked into a hotel half way to Chicago. The dietary quality that you would expect on a road trip continued into a vending machine dinner, but we were just happy to sleep. The next morning had me brushing off the layer of snow that had found its home on top of our car. My initial attempts to brush it as far as possible off the car were short-lived as my hands began to freeze. I just got it off as quickly as possible and got into the warmth of the car's heating.

So day two of the road trip in our newly-dubbed "Frosty" Toyota Corolla was off and running. The first task before we really got going was to purchase an ipod cable - our appreciation of the three CDs we had been able to buy in Boston was wearing thin. After several stops - and being asked if I was British - we were in luck and off again.

This trip went more smoothly than the day before. The highlights included stopping at a real American roadstop and my attempts to blend in. Apparently my trucker hat and 8-day beard growth did little to help me. We also had yet another meal we weren't able to finish. I have come to the conclusion that the excess-philosophy that exists here extends prominently to food. It also is even apparent in the gum - which at this point we certainly needed to get rid of the taste of whatever we had just eaten. The only other main dilemma at this point was figuring out how the petrol pumps worked. Playing the "I'm Australian" card got me out of trouble however. Unfortunately there was nothing to fix the freezing hand problem; except swapping them every ten seconds or so.

As we entered Chicago it was hard to fathom just how industrial it is. Nothing but power poles and exhaust towers as far as the eye could see. It was a weird juxtaposition as they were silhoutted in front of a dazzling sunset. We made our way safely in through more tolls than I cared to pay, and it was then that our biggest hurdle was about to befall us.

We had both commented that the place looked like Gotham City. Who knew we were about to see more of it than we were probably supposed to. When Homer on the GPS led us astray we had to rely on our senses. As we got deeper into the underbelly of the Chicago industry we realised our senses may have been a bit tired. Seeing a "local traffic only" sign we figured "Well, we're here. I guess that makes us local." Ten harrowing minutes later we emerged out the other side having talked to a construction worker and driven past one of the key locations in "The Dark Knight". In hindsight it's a good story. At the time it was not.

Today we had a look around a bit of Chicago and took in the very cold weather. Its title as "The Windy City" is accurate. And next stop is a nine-hour drive to Memphis. Wish us luck!

Still miss you all, and will write again soon!

Much love. Nick, xo

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