East to Northwestern #TBT

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, the idea of East/West on segments of highways going North/South causes confusion. Despite using a GPS, we were unsure about what was going on as we drove from Lincoln to Evanston when I moved in for grad school in early 2009. Here is my journal from that day!

Sunday, September 6, 2009                          Day -15

Previously, on Noah’s Chronicles:

  • Noah finished up some loose ends in Lincoln

  • His water basketball season ended in a championship defeat.

  • Regis Philbin was the celebrity playing for charity on the last Millionaire episode of the prime-time special.

—————x—————

The day dawned for me at 652h, as I beat the alarm to 700h.  I put on my adidas purple–striped polo and took the leftover stuff from my room downstairs.  Mom & Dad were already awake, so that … yeah.  They were reading the newspapers, but I decided to journal from yesterday instead, since there will be ample time on the car ride.  It all took place in the red journal.  The sun was shining, and it looks like a good day awaits!  I got a Schwan’s bar for breakfast, because what says I can’t splurge here?

I noticed that my [Jensen] MP3 player was frozen, so decided that I probably needed to format the drive.  [It must not like getting fully deleted and then re-loaded.]  First, of course, I loaded that leftover stuff from the living room and counter, and got into the back seat of the crammed van.  I turned on my PC once the van started, but that made the power supply turn its red OVERLOAD light on.  I had to get into some awkward positions while typing.  Also, I moved all my music to a temporary folder on the desktop in order to format the MP3 player drive.

The formatting of the player made it work again!  As we left Lincoln, I transferred the journal from this last week to my PC, including the sports and bike logs.  We listened to my music, and it was a good mix.  I tried to focus on the transfer, but the bumpy ride and awkward positioning made it difficult.  At least the power supply should work when I’m done in case I need the computer again on the trip!  [Also, it was hard to focus since I wanted to see the last parts of Nebraska.]  We drove on I-80 past Omaha, and on the Non-Green Bridge, I said, “Until we meet again!  A new chapter is dawning!”  It may be a while before I return to Nebraska, after all!  The journal transfer continued until about Exit 40 in Iowa, when my catch-up was fully complete! Then the power supply WORKED when I let the computer hibernate at less than 60% battery.

Then, I read the Journal-Star, focusing on the Husker Extra and the editorials and comics.  Obviously, there were lots of articles covering the Huskers football team, along with an article on HuskerVision.  The editorials were good, from identification, predators, and healthcare, among others.  Chuck … er, Charles, made me laugh with his editorial regarding the former-most topic.  The comics were great too—the guitar-shaped creature in Bizarro, a real baseball bat from the fictitious “Rat,” and Jeremy’s mom’s head exploding.

We approached Des Moines, and our tank was running VERY low—less than 20 DTE.  At about Exit 128, a Flying-J advertised gas for $2.17/gallon, but Dad held off on it, writing it off for the later cheap gas at a QT near the Ames/Fort Dodge/Minneapolis exit.  But, we missed the exit!  With the DTE dwindling, we desperately exited at Altoona and got to a Sinclair truck stop near Adventureland [and our DTE read 0 at this point!]  But the price was $2.34/gallon.  Go figure!

Continuing on Interstate 80, I began journaling for today in this black journal.  The clouds started to billow, but they appeared to just be cloudy clouds and not rain or storm clouds.  Mom was getting tired of my music, so we changed to the radio, re-discovering KIOA 93.3.  In the meantime, Mom & I played the handheld Yahtzee game to pass some of the time away.  As I put on the top bar of Page 1, the match scores were 202-262, 212-236, 162-224, 215-203, 246-256, and 383-XXX.  On that last match, XXX was Did-Not-Play, because she tried to navigate as we approached the Amana Colonies.

Taking Exit 225, we saw a gas station and a bunch of restaurants.  One of them, the Ox Yoke Inn, looked like it had a lot of people there.  Going inside, there was a bunch of memorabilia on the walls, and a check-in counter.  With three people, we were led to the left, and we sat at a table in the middle of the area.  We looked at the menu, and decided on country-fried steak, French dip, and fried chicken for me, Dad, and Mom, respectively.

But, the menu was quite confusing with the options and the waitress was not particularly helpful.  While waiting for the food, we talked about telephony, spurred by the pre-1958 phone that was on the bar’s wall.  Old wooden cooking implements were on that wall too.  Mom’s tone was pessimistic about the food.  When it came, everyone’s food seemed very small for the price we paid.  Mine tasted good, but Mom & Dad were very disappointed.  He didn’t even leave a tip after the waitress filled our pop with DIET Coke!  I noticed that the wind had picked up and that the clouds got more numerous, although I realize it’s probably merely a coincidence.

I took the wheel and the radio (music) for the next leg of the trip.  The traffic was light, although there were some poor-to-bad drivers.  When I was in the left lane, however, I was also driving too slowly.  As I drove in Iowa, Mom was on the phone with various people, including Casey, Molly, Levi, and people in Lincoln.  My MP3s were playing, but there were some that didn’t play, as if they’re incompatible with my player!

Once we got to the Mississippi River, it got trickier to drive!  The road was one lane, and it was NARROW.  It reminded me of the Worlds of Fun trip, only this time, it was ME in the driver’s seat!  [If I would have been in the driver’s seat in this situation 6 years ago, we would have been in big trouble!]  At least I’ve heavily matured as a driver in the last 6 years—I hope I don’t lose it all now that I won’t drive regularly.  Once we got past that area, it was trees as far as the eyes could see!  There was even less civilization out here than on I-80 in Iowa!  Dad was navigating, and it was Interstate 80 all the way!  Near Exit 70, it was one lane for destruction AND a rollover crash had happened!  After the delay of nearly thirty minutes, we took Exit 74 and stopped at Flying-J.  Dad filled while Mom & I voided (our bladders), and stretched as well!

Mom took the wheel for the remainder of the trip.  Not much to speak of while we were still on Interstate 80, other than some small towns that were mostly unremarkable.  At Exit 126B, we turned onto Interstate 55, and I noticed a difference immediately.  Houses lined the roadside, there were more than 2 lanes, and it looked like a developed or developing (rapidly!) area!  Dad said, “We reached the outskirts of Chicago as soon as we got onto I-55.”  Some of the scenery looked familiar to me [from 2.5 years ago], such as the road to Argonne or the mosque.

The excitement built as we approached the downtown area, and I noticed the clouds and all the tall buildings amid the backdrop.  This obviously included the Sears Tower.  Traffic was understandably heavier here, and we got to exit onto the express part of Interstate 94 WEST which sped us up versus going in the non-express.  It got confusing later, because the GPS said, “Keep to the left” when both the signs AND GPS’s “next road” instruction said “Keep to the right.” It further confused me that the road split into 94 West and 90 West, when it seemed that we were going northbound!  We took the sign’s direction, and continued on the road without getting screamed “Calculating route.”  An exit further had a small sign that said “Northwestern University Exit 37B.”

The exit led us to Dempster Road in Skokie, as we travelled the whole way.  Mom & Dad saw this street and said there were some good- and bad-looking areas.  I noticed this too, with some areas of the street that had boarded-up houses and/or barred stores.  On the other hand, the area is very Jewish with many kosher restaurants and delis.  The key thing is that I am now the adventurer!

McCormick Boulevard was our next turn-off.  It showed a lush bike trail on the east side.  I’m excited to use it!  However, Golf Street, despite having bike lanes, looked like a somewhat seedy neighborhood, in certain places.  Mom iterated in several ways, “Don’t go out alone, get to know people, and ask many different people.”  When we got to Maple Avenue, Engelhart Hall was right there!  We parked in the back of the towering place and headed around to the front.  Entering, there were instructions on how to call the CA, mailboxes, and a security-sealed front door.  In calling the CA, nobody answered, so I left a message with my cell phone number and we then left.

We set the GPS for the Doubletree, and it was warming up, so we saw some of Downtown Evanston while it was trying to get us righted.  A lot is down there.  After we got going, Skokie-bound, there was a direction given by the GPS, “Slight left turn in 0.3 miles.”  We saw a cutoff on an island, and took it… but it was going THE WRONG WAY!!  [It was on Ridge Avenue, between Church and Emerson. They redid that area so that will not happen again.] After a near-head-on with the cars oncoming, we turned around safely and still managed to get hotel-bound.  The rest of the ride was uneventful.  Near the hotel, the neighborhoods look nicer.  Catty corner from the hotel, there’s a Westfield Shoppingtown, and that made us all laugh heartily [c.f. the San Diego trip journal!]

Next, we checked in to the hotel, and asked what places are good to eat at.  She recommended EJ’s Place, which was a steakhouse, with fine food but not fine dining (i.e. we won’t be underdressed as is).  In the hotel lobby, I saw a few men with kippot on, and saw the mirrors, pillars, and other nice things in the lobby.  Mom & Dad found the room using the elevator, and we then left toward EJ’s Place.  I noticed that the temperature has fallen, and that it’s unusually dark!

Six blocks down, as we drove, we entered EJ’s parking lot and averted disaster AGAIN.  Walking inside, I noticed an interesting aromatic aura about the place, but couldn’t discern what it was.  Our hosts were all in white jackets, and led us to a table.  The ambiance was dark, and the place looked like a log cabin in the woods [better description: like The Steak House in Lincoln].  White we ate pre-dinner (breads, soups), we talked about these kinds of restaurants and the paintings as well.  Chicago life also came up, but I’ll skirt some of the details here.  My dinner was marinated strip steak, and it was … different.  I’ll have it again for leftovers, but I don’t know.  The marinade had a different sort of flavor that I can’t describe or really evaluate for GOOD or BAD.

Next, I called the CA from my phone after we left the restaurant, and he told me to call when I reach the lobby.  So, we just returned the way we came on Golf, and Dad said, “Looking at this neighborhood again, I see good signs… cars out in good condition, fire station, and people on their porches.”  At Engelhart, I got my keys, filled out paperwork, and then went around to the back.  Unloading the van took many trips, but we condensed the elevator trips.  Thank goodness for the elevator and three people [as compared to Piper 4!]

Opening up the apartment, the bathroom and kitchen areas were really small, and my door was locked (for obvious reasons).  Opening the door, a forbidding (currently) room opened with a bed, two lamps, a desk, and dresser.  This will work for me!  Once we got everything upstairs, a little bit of unpacking followed, as well as meeting Don.  It seems that he will be a good apartment-mate!  We had to raise the bed, which was some amount of work!

After that, we compiled a shopping list and headed back to the hotel.  As it was nearly midnight, I cleaned myself up a bit and then fell, exhausted in the comfy hotel bed.

>> TO BE CONTINUED…

===========================================

Road Trip: 29 days

פסח: נ”ג ימים (Passover: 53 days)

ארץ ישראל: ק”ז ימים (Israel: 107 days)

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