As it turns out, the trip technically took 5 days, as opposed to the 4 I originally bragged about. But the last leg of the trip felt so short compared to the other legs, I tend to ignore it.
ANYWAY, I left this harrowing tale of travel in the state of South Dakota. I had just finished a brutal 18 hour drive from Butt, MT. I didn't eat all that much. I watched Law and Order: SVU. I misplaced my Jade Buddha (blessed by the head Shaolin Monk… yes, THOSE Shaolin Monks), so I had to spend an hour freaking out about how I lost one of my most prized possessions in the Toilet of the Midwest. I found it eventually, and so I feel asleep.
Day 3- Sioux Falls, SD – Chicago, IL
I woke up at 6:30 am, grabbed some free coffee and stale danish, and took off. In a matter of minutes, I was in Minnesota, and for the first time since I left Seattle, had ready access to NPR. It was Iowa's NPR station, but at this point I was so tired of listening to white dudes bitch about illegal immigrants that they started to make sense. Yeah, why DON'T those outsourced customer service reps speak English. And I will direct my rage at those customer service representatives, as opposed to the company that hired them.
Around 9am all that hard traveling and minimal eating finally got to me, and I decided now was as good a time as any to eat at a good ol' Truck Stop. I couldn't find one of those really greasy places, where I was sure to get my ass beat. But I found one that had a good amount of actual trucks parked outside. So I went in and ordered some scrambled eggs and various meats, and it all got served up in an actual skillet, not those garbage ceramic numbers. I got a few dirty looks from the people eating there. But that wasn't due to my exotic good looks or sarcastic wit; rather, it was probably due to the issue of The Stranger (Seattle's Alt-culture weekly, home to Dan Savage) I was reading, which was dedicated to some sort of gay thing, Pride Week? I don't remember anymore. But I needed to read something whilst eating damn it. By the way, the breakfast? FANTASTIC.
Minnesota went by fast, as did Wisconsin. I wish I could tell you some condescending story about these two states, but I really can't. I like Minnesota, because it's home to A Prairie Home Companion, and its voters were dumb enough to put The Body Ventura into office. I mean really, what can I say? And Wisconsin is home to the Green Bay Packers, the team I grew up cheering for.
Chicago was the first REAL city I encountered since leaving Seattle. A city with gigantic skyscrapers and horrifically shitty traffic. My first impression was "wow, this city is really big." My second impression was, "wow, this city is really dirty." I was really excited to see Chicago, which I only visited briefly as a child. See that one building, maybe even get a glimpse of that one stadium where that team plays. You know. Oh, maybe even see the statue of that guy. Instead I saw dilapidated buildings and a large cityscape of gleaming skyscrapers, shielded by a cloud of brownish gray smog. All connected by an even more dilapidated train, complete with poorly done graffiti tags. It was really disappointing, though the area I stayed in was really nice. Later, I would discover that this scene of run-down urban wasteland would be easily outmatched by New York City. Holy crap that city is like Hawaii. Small islands of great beauty. Only instead of beautiful ocean, those islands are surrounded by gray, filthy, old-ass buildings. And instead of a series of planes/ferries to get around, you rely on an underground train that smells like pee.
This also marked the first time I met the most annoying part of my trip: Toll Roads. Nothing really made me feel like a hick from the west quite like Toll Roads. I actually pulled over into the Illinois Welcome Center and asked what was the proper procedure for using the toll roads. I'm not kidding. The woman looked at me like I was crazy. Were debit cards accepted? How much money per stop? How much money total to traverse the state? I needed to know these things because I didn't want to carry TOO much cash on me. It's bad enough I had half an apartment stuffed into a four door compact car. I didn't want to be carrying a big ol' wad of cash as well.
Technically, I could have pushed onwards past Chicago and stayed elsewhere. But I was set up to meet some friends. Namely two. Derek and Eduardo. After getting throughly lost and overpaying for a hotel room the size of my bathroom back home, I went out for a very pleasant dinner of pizza. Derek had recently stopped drinking, and I respected his life decision by downing four beers and getting a bit tipsy. Okay maybe a lot tipsy. Then I demanded they show me the sights, even though it was a Wednesday night and they both had to work (although I'm pretty sure Eduardo's job is fake and he's really a Marxist agitator). We visited Lake Michigan, where I'm pretty sure I ruined a young couple's very nice and romantic date with my loud blathering about the rare Chicago Pink-Tailed Bat (Derek claimed it was a duck, but he's full of shit).
After a long day at work shifting papers and reporting on Asbestos claims or horrific Liability or Workers Comp cases, there's nothing quite like logging onto IRC and bullshitting with my compatriots. It was greatly refreshing, after two brutal days of travel, to finally meet some of the people with whom I've complained; fragged; insulted; laughed; planned to create a fake female persona and seduce another IRCer; and founded a short-lived gaming website. After saying our good-byes, I went back to my tiny tiny room (seriously, the bed barely fit in it), took a shower, and watched Law and Order: SVU. Episode Summary: Someone is killing
hookers sex workers! Maybe it's the pimp!? Or the rich WASP? Also, cops have personal problems too.
Day 4 – Chicago, IL to Buffalo, NY
I woke up with a raging headache, which put me in a bit of a feisty mood. To compensate for the RIDICULOUS price I paid for the room, I took as many cookies as I could reasonably carry without being a pig. Which, incidentally, was a whole lot.
On this leg of the tip, I actually passed through Indiana without even knowing it. Apparently Indiana is comprised of vast fields telephone wires. After passing through at least 5 states that had large expanses of natural scenery, it was a bit jarring to suddenly enter vast scenes of, for lack of a better word, urban shit. From Chicago to Buffalo, there was really nothing going on. My "NPR Game" was useless, as once I got past Chicago, the airwaves were PACKED with all sorts of great programming. So, I did what any reasonable person would do when on a long road trip; find the classical rock station. During this whole time I was shotgunning bottles of water, to combat the pounding headache. I'm a seasoned traveler, I had a passport when I was 4, and went on god knows how many road trips during my life. I've never gone on so many bathroom breaks before. It was a bit embarrassing.
I called my wife when I hit Cleveland (which is actually quite an attractive city), and she yelled at me for waking her up in Hawaii and hung up the phone.
Leaving Cleveland, I apparently went insane and listened to Dr. Laura. After getting over my initial shock that she was still on the air, I got to hear this fabulous question:
"Hi Dr Laura, I'm worried that my boyfriend is gay. During sex, he prefers strictly to do it from behind. It's the only way he wants to do it."
You might think I'm making this up. I'm not. She was worried her boyfriend was gay, because he liked it doggystyle. Dr. Laura, to her credit, gave a reasonably decent answer, though I noticed she did not address the actual question (is my boyfriend gay?). She said some stuff about demanding one's sexual needs to be met, and I suppose that's about as good as it'll get.
By the way, did you know that the Midwest gets oppressively hot in the summer?
Upon my arrival in lovely Buffalo, NY, it was fairly difficult to find a hotel, because it's tourist season or something. After finally getting referred to a hotel with actual rooms available, I demanded to eat buffalo wings, and was led to a decent place (I wasn't actually IN Buffalo, but I was relatively close by). And then I ate the buffalo wings. They were good I suppose. My headache was finally starting to subside, and I celebrated by watching Law and Order: SVU. Episode Summary: A Sexual Predator is on the loose. Now he's caught! Wait, released on a technicality! Oh no, now the manhunt is on with limited time! Also, cops have personal problems too.
Last 5 posts by Derrick
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