Category Archives: Illinois
Toledo, Ohio to San Diego, California
Grand Total: $669.76
We didn’t exactly live like paupers during this road trip. We Couchsurfed everywhere of course, but we also splurged on quite a few meals out and quite a few brewery stops in Colorado. It was a mini vacation! Still, I think the fact that we spent so little proves something…
The word was that we needed to be on the road before 7 if we wanted to miss the morning Chicago traffic. We managed to get out of the big city with only one minor slowdown and before we knew it we were at the beginning of the world’s largest field i.e. the states that fill the space between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains. Google approximated the drive from Chicago to Denver to be 16 hours so we decided to knock out 12 hours on the first day and spend the night Couchsurfing in North Platte, Nebraska. We planned to entertain ourselves with music, reading, playing silly games, sleeping, talking, arguing, thinking… you get the point.
Driving through this section of the country is extremely dull. By dull I mean the most boring drive. But I love it because this is the section of the country that people miss when they fly. Enduring seemingly-endless miles of those golden fields is what make you fill with joy at your first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains.
We ran into some rain and road construction, but made a pretty good pace. There are a few restaurants that we always stop at, one being Hamburg Inn in Iowa City.
Our stomachs were full of nothing but coffee and dry cereal so we stopped around 11 am for some breakfast. The Hamburg Inn is a Hawkeye staple and has served many students along with a couple U.S. presidents.
They are famous for their pie shakes – large milk shakes with delicious pieces of pie broken into them. Best. thing. ever.
We stuffed our faces, then were soon back on I-80. Carrie took the wheel and we both got really sleepy from eating so much. Lucky there was a rest stop with ice cold Mountain Dew to boost our energy levels.
Just before sunset we made it to North Platte, a small railroad town in the middle of nowhere. We have had a lot of Couchsurfing success in the Midwest, and as usual had a great host who showed us around and took us out to a good diner, The Depot, near the rail yard.
There wasn’t too much excitement in North Platte on a Monday night, but that was fine with us, as we were eager to get to bed after such a long day of driving through the cornfields!
We changed plans. Between planning a wedding and really wanting surfboards, we decided to cancel the big looping road trip and settled on a more direct route through the center of the country. There isn’t much new for us to see this direction, but we really just wanted to get to sunny California as soon as possible.
After turning in our apartment keys in Toledo, we started west on the Ohio Turnpike (80/90), stopping to say a quick goodbye to my family.
Just about one uneventful hour later, we made our way into Indiana. Not much different than Ohio. Near the end of Indiana the landscape became more and more industrial and soon we were entering Chicago, our destination for the night.
We stopped in Lincoln Park to meet up with a good friend and spent the afternoon walking the city streets. It had been a long time since we had been to a big, American city. Hunger set in so we found the closest pizza place and the three of us dug into a 12 inch deep dish.
It was good to see our friend and his family. They always take us in during our travels and they’re always a good time. The first day of traveling never feels quite right, with our minds all jumbled up with work and the stresses of life. Chicago was a good start, but still only a start. “TO THE WEST!!!” we yelled.
So we’re sitting in the Chicago airport at 1:30 am. 4 hours til our first flight to Fort Lauderdale leaves. I wanted to write a real post, but they charge you to use wifi! Come on, Chi-town, what’s up with that??? (So I’m posting this quickie from my phone.)
So just know that we’re really on our way!!!! The next real post you read here will be about Colombia!!!
Bien viaje to us!!!