Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mission accomplished

Boone and I successfully completed our mission in Chicago last week and made it back safely (surprisingly). I didn't realize Labor Day was actually that big of a “thing” until we were traveling through ridiculous traffic on two-lane interstates back to Kentucky. We came upon no less than four or five wrecks, some of which had just happened. One unfortunate fellow was climbing out of the passenger's side of his overturned semi truck on the side of the road as we were leaving Chicago. But we're back, safe and sound, with visa in hand.

We drove to Indianapolis and stayed with Uncle Bill Kincaid and his family on the way to Chicago. Their hospitality was much appreciated. Despite their air conditioning not working on one of the hottest days of the year, we had a good time and had a place to sleep for the night. It was like couch surfing in Europe all over again, minus the taboo around the whole practice of staying with strangers. The drive to Chicago from Indianapolis was a relatively uneventful one, save a slight detour off the interstate due to a cleanup of some kind. This gave Boone and I the opportunity to see some local towns and more corn fields. It was not unlike driving through a flat version of Kentucky. It became even more eerily similar when we ran into street signs and towns that shared the same names as many of the places around where we live.

One of my favorite parts of the drive are the fields of windmills that line the interstate. It's such a surreal sight, hundreds and hundreds of gargantuan white columns, towering over the miles of corn field on the sides of the road. It is almost alien. Eventually I want to draw or paint some kind of futuristic Don Quixote scenario in which a crazed man is shooting lasers at a windmill. Maybe one of the windmills can be a white dragon. It's not original, but it looks really cool in my head.

 We arrived in Chicago via the Lakeshore Parkway. If you ever find yourself heading that way, it's superior to whatever interstate entrance Don Kincaid took on our previous trip there. The view is beautiful and the traffic was minimal by comparison. The city was still fresh and familiar to us, so we had little trouble navigating it. Unfortunately, we ended up in a parking garage that charged $25 per day but offered no hourly rates. There are few first world problems as frustrating as paying $25 for an hour or two of parking.

Getting my visa was no ordeal, surprisingly. My only obstacle was a particularly flustered young woman who thought I was trying to cut her in line. I wasn't aware that being in line involved sitting down, fifteen feet from the line, but I let her have her tantrum and let her know I was in no hurry. I was kind of disappointed when I actually got the visa. I believe I had the impression that it would be akin to a passport in its appearance. Instead, it's just a sticker that they paste on the inside of your passport. I guess that's convenient enough, but for $140 and a world of issues, you would think you'd at least get a t-shirt or something.

Boone and I stopped by “Potbelly's” sub sandwich store and got something to eat before leaving town. It was delicious, but took a toll on Boone's sensitive digestive system. As we left the parking garage, he decided it was a serious emergency. At the next stop light, Boone bailed and ran across at least six lanes of traffic into a port-a-potty at a jazz festival in one of the parks. I had to circle around the park a few times before he had had enough of the 120 degree poop cubicle and returned to the car. Good times.

We saw several wrecks on the opposite side of the interstate on the way home. Some of the wrecks had wrecks going on behind them. I can't imagine how angry it would make me if I was stuck in hours of traffic and then got involved in a fender-bender. Boone prophesied our eventual bad luck. There was no way we could pass all of that and not eventually run into some of it ourselves. It didn't come until we reached Northern Kentucky, but Boone's premonition was true. We had just missed the exit ramp when we had to come to a dead stop with no end to the cars in sight. After much deliberation, we followed several other cars and motorcycles in an illegal maneuver up the entrance ramp. I don't normally conduct myself in such a manner, but I was tired and had been driving for quite some time. At least I was careful when I did it.

Our illegal detour led us down an old road that paralleled the interstate for a few miles. When we decided to head back to the interstate, we found the fire trucks, police, and trucks that had just come from the wreck. It looked pretty bad, judging from the debris the trucks were hauling. Thankfully, we avoided any other wrecks after this and made it home safely.

Now that I have the visa and am sure that I'll be going, I'm looking for a cheap plane ticket. I'm having a harder time of it than I care to have. It's too bad Boone doesn't have his pilots license yet...or a commercial jet.