July 16, 2020
Starting Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota (Depart 06:30AM)
South Bend, Indiana 60 minutes further east and as far away from planned Air BnB as possible (Arrive 12:30AM, EST on Friday 7/17)
12 13 hours or so
Driving Miles: 760 miles (ermahgerd)
We need to talk about the midwest and Air BnB. Abby and I are now TWO for FOUR on successful Air BnB stays and I have NEVER had a problem with accommodations prior to this trip. Tonight was another FAIL of Air BnB that resulted in driving further east and finding new accommodations. Today, we also drove through MANY states: South Dakota, Southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois (with a stop in Chicago), and Indiana. Until we got to Chicago, we experienced LIMITED people (aka, NO ONE) wearing masks. It was as if there is no awareness we are in a global pandemic. However, once we were in Chicago, we noticed a DRASTIC difference in percentage of people wearing masks and thoughtful considerations for public health.
Today, we played tourist between the marathon of driving. Abby and I took turns driving and napping today. I can’t believe the distance we covered and we are feeling awake, healthy, and satisfied with our day!
The whole morning was spent driving between corn fields in South Dakota and southern Minnesota. There was a WILD fog settled over the road in Minnesota, which allowed for a half mile of visibility. It’s especially important to note our FAVORITE state “Welcome” sign (thus far) is Minnesota’s! It is in the shape of the state and had a pretty font, but we couldn’t get a good picture as it was backlit. So, here’s Google’s photo:
In contrast, Wisconsin offered ZERO hospitality and we did not see a single welcome sign [insert sad face]. We waited for it with the camera ready… and NOTHING.
Illinois had not ONE… not TWO… but THREE welcome signs! [ALL of which I missed because I was sleeping, haha.] First of all, Chicago is BY FAR the biggest city we’ve been to since Seattle. It took some serious thinking and reflecting to realize that most of our country’s major cities are on the coasts (e.g. Seattle, LA, Boston, NYC) and NONE of the ‘major’ cities we’ve driven through had populations with seven digits. Pretty wild, huh? While we thought Sioux Falls seemed pretty developed, the population is 181,883 (2018). In contrast, check out these numbers (based on the U.S. 2018 census):
- Boston has a population of 4,875,390
- Seattle Metro Area has a population of 3,939,363
- New York City has a population of *drum roll* 8,398,748 (wowzers!)
- But the WINNER goes to… Los Angeles with a population of 10,283,729!
Abby has been to Chicago before, so she knew all the touristy spots we had to visit! We walked around Navy Pier, got deep dish pizza at Giordano’s, and went to Millennial Park to visit “the bean,” which is actually not officially called the bean, but is the Cloud Gate. As a COVID-19 precaution, there are signs EVERYWHERE in Chicago to maintain distance, wear masks, and wash hands frequently. There was also only ONE entrance to Millennial Park (at the Michigan & Madison street intersection). I really liked the city and would definitely return! Lake Michigan is beautifully blue.
EAST COAST EVIDENCE
Abby and I have been noticing clouds a lot this trip. On the West Coast, there are more wistful clouds (the meteorologist name is stratus clouds), whereas we have more cumulus and nimbus clouds on the East Coast. While we drove through the midwest, the cumulus clouds appeared heavier. As we got more east, they seemed lighter. I never thought seeing familiar clouds would make me feel so at home. What do you notice?!
We’ve driven through some small towns and a LOT of corn the last few days, so getting to Chicago was quite refreshing. People were dressed nicely, it was clean, and there were lots of people wearing masks! Once we saw a Dunkin’ Donuts sign and began using the EZ Pass, we knew we were getting closer to home! Also, I want to appreciate the diversity of the city. There has tended to be more of a white wash in most places we’ve been (including our starting point of Seattle), whereas Chicago felt a lot more like the cities I’m familiar with (New York City and Boston).
Also… you KNOW you’re getting to the east coast when the speed limit is 45mph, but everyone is whizzing past you at 70mph or flashing brights at you because you’re driving too slow, AKA trying NOT to get a speeding ticket with DOUBLE the speed limit. Welcome back to the East, Kristen.
Spotify is really talented at making playlists, so I kind of abandoned the playlist I shared on day one haha. We enjoyed jamming out to this “Classic Road Trip Songs” playlist. We got ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and ACDC as recommended by some friends answering the questions of the day!
Yesterday, I came to the realization that Rusted Root “Send Me On My Way” is my favorite road trip song. Today, Abby had her revelation – her favorite is Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” because you think you know the words and you really don’t. Basically, Abby and I grunted the whole song. I want to add that MY favorite road trip song for Abby is Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me.” It was literally the encore to our day and I would start and end any and every day with her singing that song.
Breakfast was at Caribou Coffee in Sioux Falls, which is a Minnesota-founded company! Their logo “Life is Short, Stay Awake for It” is freakin awesome. We both got a mango/orange smoothie. I got a Swiss/mushroom soufflé pocket of deliciousness and a nitro cold brew. Abby got a bagel with almond/honey cream cheese (basically, Honey Nut Cheerios in schmear form). It was a really good decision to get this fuel BEFORE hitting the road.
Our lunch was eaten in a very busy gas station outside of Chicago. We ALMOST changed our lunch menu by attempting to go to Panera, but the road was closed to it. So, we made PB&J. Still delicious.
DINNER was SO SO SO good – I got the classic Chicago deep dish pizza (pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers). It made my belly very happy and we had a wonderful view while eating it.
Our INTENTION was to stay at an Air BnB in South Bend, Indiana… sounded nice. It was close to Notre Dame. We arrived at 11PM and opened the door to find a hot, muggy, and musty home. We turned on the ceiling fan light at the entrance and *WHA-BAM!* 💥 , this AWFUL sound crescendoed and began shaking the house. Might as well have had THIS theme song playing in the background (WARNING: clown trigger).
The entire house (which is very old and very dirty) was literally vibrating and we heard the worst rattling sound, which seemed to be coming from the basement. We turned on some lights and decided to try looking at the basement. I thought we’d find: (A) A demogorgon, (B) The radiator from Home Alone, or (C) Figtin’ Irish football players having a drum circle in the basement. (Reference photos below)
Well, it was none of those things. But this was NOT to our relief. I messaged our ‘host’ for Air BnB and he kind of shrugged it off, saying “it’s an old home, it’s the A/C” and “I could turn it off.” Uh, firstly… no thank you, we don’t want you turn off the A/C because our faces will melt off before morning (yes, the East coast summers are warm and humid). Secondly, why was he not concerned about the entire house seeming like it was getting ready for a blastoff to the moon? It seemed like it was prepping for takeoff from a launch pad and that was NOT something we were willing to tolerate. The sound below was recorded on my phone:
Further… there were dirty dishes in the sink. NOTHING hung on the walls (sorry if you’re a minimalist and also do that or something, but it was weird). There were holes in the basement stairs (possible dwelling spaces for baby demogorgons?). Honestly, it was disgusting. Again… I am not picky. COVID-19 or not, this place was a hard NOOOO.
Abby and I decided to keep driving east and stay in a hotel which has air conditioning that does not sound like an earthquake/NASA launch pad. AND we are getting a brown bag of breakfast in the morning. How pleasant.
Here’s to getting a good night’s sleep and being MANY, MANY MILES closer to the people I love.
What is your worst hotel/overnight experience?
KRISTEN: Honestly, it’s been the two Air BnB’s we’ve tried staying at! I’ve never had to leave a planned stay! I wonder if my family remembers any nights that I cannot.
ABBY: I got bed bugs in Costa Rica sleeping on a mattress that was made out of straw that had a sheet over it and it destroyed me. I had to throw away everything and didn’t bring any of it home.