The concoction of whiskey and pills worked a treat for the boy wonder. All it left me with was a hangover and very little sleep. That’s the way it is with those pills I think, if they don’t knock you out you feel even worse in the morning.
It was an eventful start to our stay in the windy city. First, I had a mini break down as I was getting off the coach as my passport wasn’t in my back pocket, where it has been ever since I arrived state side. That issue was easy enough resolved with a quick look in the front pocket of my bag, I blame the sleep deprivation but I was close to tears.
Then there was the small matter of finding a place to stay for the night. It was a Saturday and we had no couch to surf on for tonight. First order of business, find some wifi and get a bed for the night. This would be our first night in a hostel since New Zealand (if you don’t count the trips to Vegas (or San Diego)).
Well it would be our first night in a hostel if we could find one with a couple of spare beds. Everywhere was fully booked. When has that ever happened anywhere ever! Tired and hungry, we headed to Mcdonald’s for something to eat and more free wifi. Usually I don’t mind taking us the wrong direction, but not when I’m loaded up like a Sherpa halfway up Mt Everest.
Whether you believe in fate or not, this wrong turn was a blessing in disguise. The lack of sleep and the stress at being homeless was clearly showing more than I was trying to let on as this angel, this absolute babe, our saviour, Saint Mary stopped us to see if we were OK. We were not anywhere close to being OK. She guided us to Mcdonald’s and told us to stay put, she’d be in touch.
We continued our search inside but to no avail. In pure desperation, I called Mary to see what was going on. She was on another phone and she seemed to of found the last two beds in the entire city. I’m not sure I can explain the pure sense of relief and joy when she said she’d found us somewhere.
Things never run that smoothly though, not for us. I rang the hostel myself to pay for the deposit so we didn’t lose the room. Once again these Americans haven’t thought about us internationals. They wanted a zip code for the card and their system had a fit when I gave him a couple of N’s. Fair play to the guy, he said he could hold the room for us but we’d have to get there in 2 hours.
Just when I thought Mary couldn’t get any higher in my estimations she goes and raises the bar again. Finding the hostel wasn’t enough for her, she then came and drove us to the front door so we didn’t lose our spot. If the world was full of people just half as generous and helpful as our Mary, that’s the world I want to live in.
The hostel was in a great location too, a stones throw away from Wrigley Field the home the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Things were starting to look up, the Cubs were at home that very evening and since we knew what on earth was going on now after watching our fair share of games we went down and got a couple of tickets.
It couldn’t of been 10 minutes after buying the tickets and taking another wrong turn courtesy of yours truly, it absolutely pissed it down. We had been looking for a Man Vs Food bar sandwich shop called Lucky’s and had we gone the right way, we would have been sitting in the dry laughing at all the poor bastards getting soaked.
By the time we got to the bar I had given up on running, I looked like a drowned rat and was miserable and cold. We made our way to the back and luckily we found a couple of spare chairs, I hate to think what my mood would have been like if I had to stand too.
Lucky’s sandwiches are huge. When we read the description of these places we always under estimate how big they mean by big. When an American says big, believe you me they mean big. The side order of buffalo chicken wings was redundant, I could barely finish half of my sarnie, let alone anything extra. The size of the thing was well matched by the quality. Sometimes you worry that they’re sacrificing quality for size but that was not the case, I loved every bite. Even though it went everywhere.
The rain had meant a delay to the beginning of the game, which was fine by me as it meant there was more time for me to dry off and enjoy a few pre game frothies. The first pitch was at like 8 but we thought we’d leave it for a while and follow on TV at first. But with a first innings of 3-1 Cubs we raced over to take it in for ourselves.
An added bonus of the rain delay meant that the stadium was half empty and instead of the rubbish seat right at the back we had paid for, we had a choice of where ever we fancied. Then nothing happened for 7 innings except me getting hypothermia. OK maybe that’s me being dramatic but I was flippin cold.
Then a few pitcher changes for the Cubs brought the game to life. I felt sorry for the guy, there really is nowhere to hide when you’re out on the mound. The 5th choice pitcher had a stinker, and the crowd turned on him in a big way. I mean he did give away 6 runs in a single innings, which is not good I mean he might as well of been throwing underarm for the good he was doing. But to have at least 10,000 of your own “supporters” booing you and cursing you out must be the worst thing to happen to you. I think I was alone in clapping him off when the coach took pity on him and took him out of the game.
That was the game all tied up for the Diamondbacks and we didn’t stick around for the final few balls. Cold and tired, there was only one place I wanted to be and I didn’t care that it was a Saturday night. I was going to bed.
It was an emotional time when we dropped off the car. Not because we were saying goodbye to the Jetta but because when I booked the car online I must of done something but we were supposed to drop it off in some nowhere in North Dakota, some 300 miles away.
As per usual, it all worked out in the end. Instead of a $500 relocation fee, it was only $325. Not the worst mistake I’ve ever made, but the cost of the whole thing was considerably more than what we had planned. Do you know what, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I’d gladly pay double what we did for the Pacific Coast Highway alone and the freedom to come and go as we pleased. Anyone thinking of doing anything like this has to do it by car. A bus may be cheaper, but you don’t get to see half as much.
As soon as our mobile home was taken away from us, everything went to pot. Our couch surfing hosts had seemingly fallen off the face of the planet and we had nowhere to stay or go. There was a over night bus to Chicago leaving in a few hours and my mind was made.
Not only did we ditch the Jetta in Minneapolis, I also cleared a sizeable chunk of dead weight from my bag. Anything that hadn’t been used in the last 3 months or hadn’t been bought for a specific purpose was trashed. Leaving me with a much more manageable load. Still a ridiculous amount of stuff, but manageable.
Once we got ourselves into the city centre, we found the Greyhound terminal and set up camp. We don’t have the money to afford the Greyhound, but we are cheap enough to sit in their lobby, use their free wifi and book ourselves onto a Megabus.
After looking like complete scabs for long enough, we took our mass of luggage a few blocks over to the car park where the Megabus would pick us up. Luckily we did as we saw some commotion concerning a passengers luggage. It turns out that each passenger is allowed one piece under the bus and one as carry on. Me and Jim had 3 pieces each.
Jimmy’s main bag was half empty so we managed to cram one of his bags into the other. All of my shit was overflowing as it was and there was no chance of cramming anything into anywhere. And the bus conductor was being a real dick, the sort of guy that has been given a shred of power and he was going to use every once of it on the unsuspecting public.
A nice fellow heading to Chicago to see his wife and kid was good enough to check the bag for me, a ying to the douche bag conductors yang. Our industrial sized bottle of Fire Ball has now been decanted into 3 empty water bottles and thought the best way to get through this 8 hour trip was to get drunk and pop sleeping pills like their Smarties.
At the crack of dawn, the howls of wolves woke us up. Our streak of picking terrible sleeping spots continued as we had inadvertently parked right outside a wolf enclosure for some local tourist spot. There were half a dozen wolves just standing at the fence staring us down. And some weird Chinese guy standing at the fence howling back at them.
The drive to Mt Rushmore would of taken us through Yellowstone once again, but the entrance huts were man’d so we gave it a miss, if we hadn’t of seen so much yesterday we might of paid the $25 entrance fee.
The start of our trip took us in and out of the park and was a joy to drive. It had trees, rivers, mountains, it was a dream. Then came Montana, and once again it was vast and empty and dull.
We got to Mt Rushmore and it was miserable. We were on top of a mountain so I wasn’t expecting it to be warm but the wind was gale force. On the plus side though it did make all the flags flutter and look nice.
I don’t know why but I thought the heads would look bigger. Each one is about 60 foot tall but way up on the mountain side they looked less impressive than what I had imagined. Another bonus with the shit weather was there wasn’t so much of a queue or crowd to get photos and we didn’t stay much longer than we had too ourselves.
A quick stop in the museum to see how they put the whole thing together and we were back in the car making up some cheese wraps for tea. It was very clever how they did it actually, the sculpture, I forget his name, created a 1:10 scale model and then used this pivot wheel thingy to get the real things the same as his model. I can’t even begin to imagine what a logistical nightmare that must have been.
There wasn’t a whole host of other things to do around them either. There was the odd bit of native American stuff kicking around, I think the battle of Little Bighorn was nearby. But if we’re not going to stop to see Custer’s Last Stand, we weren’t going to stop here. In our defence, the horrific weather was the only reason we didn’t stop at Custer’s. There was no way I was standing in what is just a large field with the rain whipping into my face.
So it was another evening of driving, in fact our last night of driving. We are heading for Minneapolis where we wave goodbye to the trusted Jetta. Not only a reliable set of wheels, but a make shift bed for the night whenever it was needed. It will be interesting to see how well we cope with our it.