Friday, 19 June 2009

Freedom Road: Fancy Seeing You Here, In Chicago ...

*I have just watched The Pixies at the Isle Of Wight festival on TV. Frank Black looks like someone's dad and Kim Deal looks like your mum's lesbian friend. Debaser is still a hell of a tune though. The coverage was presented by Fearne Cotton, so I am off to go and throw acid into my own eyes as punishment for watching her on TV. And I just had a lengthy conversation with my bro about his holiday in Ibiza where he stood 5 metres away from Jordan at Bora Bora beach and saw Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud in Space. At least he didn't break his ankle this time.*

Day Ten - Wisconsin & Chicago

We woke up on day ten of the odyssey and it was my turn to drive. Hell yeah.
My main worry was finding my way back to the I-90. I was heard asking where it was as I was actually turning onto it. I am not exactly renowned for my powers of observation.

This was also where we really started hitting the toll roads. What the fuck exactly were we paying a toll for? These roads had some of the worst surfaces in the history of the world ever. They were very poorly maintained. Dicks.

Wisconsin had the worst drivers yet encountered. People were driving like morons. It was also Monday morning rush hour. I became one of those people I used to hate when getting the train into Manchester every morning and night. The people [and they are invariably old people or young single mothers] who have all bloody day to do whatever the hell they like, but no, they just have to bring their massively slow self or huge amounts of baby paraphernalia onto the rush hour train. Jerks. My diary states simply: "Wisconsin drivers = wankers".

Wisconsin wins the prize for the most cheese based signage. We saw many, many signs for 'Wisconsin Fun'. I have no idea what Wisconsin Fun is, but I hope it is cheese related. Going by the signs, it was a large tree. We saw a sign for the Cheese Museum, which I actually would like to go to. I heart the fromage. That sign is beaten in the category of 'Improbable Museum Signage' by the Idaho Potato Museum. There also was an advertisement for the Cheese & Fireworks Store. Now, I don't know about you, but that sounds like a party to me. The best sign though, may have been the one for the Adult Bakery. I wouldn't want to eat a cake from an adult bakery. You never know what might be in it.

In Madison, I made the Stopover of Shame when I ran into a Borders and bought New Moon and Eclipse. I got a fever and the only cure? More Twilight.

As we got closer to Chicago, so the traffic got worse. And the roadworks. At this point, we realised that we were being tailgated by a massive truck. The truck kept driving, at speed, about an inch from Chad's rear bumper. When we changed lanes, so did he. I thought we were going to be murdered. That's what truckers do right? Murder prostitutes and leave them in shallow bush graves. We aren't prostitutes but you get the picture, right? We lost him somewhere in Illinois.

At one of the many toll booths we were chatting amongst ourselves . I was probably trying to work out which coin was which. I can never remember how much a nickel or a dime is. I am a pleb. The toll booth guy heard our chat and told us that we had nice accents. He then asked us where we were from. We told him to guess. His guess? Czechoslovakia. A country which doesn't even exist. He seemed very surprised to hear we were from England, as though it were more likely that we would be from Mars or something.

We finally made it to Chicago. It felt so good to be somewhere with buildings, shops, restaurants, indoor plumbing. We had a stroll down Michigan Ave. Which was very Magnificent. Then something slightly improbable happened. We were walking into Nordstrom to use the payphones - yes, world, we're the ones still using the damn payphones - when I spotted someone leaving the store who looked a lot like someone we went to high school with. High school in Warrington, 3800 miles away. I thought nothing more of it.

We wandered down to Millennium Park where we looked at the bean and the fountains.

The Bean

Cheesin' it up. Not even in Wisconsin.

Fountain action

We bought Chad a present - a car sticker which said 'On Board With Obama'. He was even Democrat blue. So Swedish, so liberal.

Finally! Food made of food.

Later that evening, we engaged in Tourism 101 and went up the John Hancock tower to see the lights and have cocktails and that. We got into a conversation with a man most accurately described as a walking mid life crisis. He had a ponytail and was wearing what I disparagingly refer to as gap year jewellery [wooden bead type ethnic frippery], jeans and a suit jacket. He told us he was from LA. He meant Louisiana. He told us he was in the 'Net business' and he had some 'massive' clients. He tried to impress us with the fact that he had been to France. Between us we have probably been to France 30 times. I think it's safe to say, we are over France. He then tried to reel us in with the mind blowing: "What do you do that inspires you? Do you write, paint, sculpt, sing?" Erm, we met you 5 minutes ago, let's keep things light and loose matey. What a freak. He then told us about his painting. Like we cared. When it became clear that neither of us was taking the bait, he faked a phone call and left. I didn't know whether to be insulted or relieved.

I then definitely saw the guy we went to high school with. At the top of the John Hancock Tower. In Chicago. In Illinois. In America. What are the odds? Jo ran after him and it was him. Disney was SO right, it's a small world after all.

We then went back to the hotel and went slightly insane, fuelled by peach bellinis.

Jo took this picture. Such was the obsession.

What is the deal with hotels and phones in the bathroom?

This was definitely after cocktails. Chan made it from Vegas to Chicago! If you look closely, you see Jo under the chair. Lolz.

Chicago was totally fantabulous. Even if we were followed by random men on the street twice. I ate some vegetables, drank a cocktail or three and felt like I could stay there forever.


Val said...

Hey, I didn't realize you were headed my way - I live right outside of Madison. However, I am in Oklahoma right now and headed back to Wisconsin tomorrow. Nice to see that you enjoyed Chicago, one of my favorite cities ever!

Jess said...

But have you been to the cheese museum, Val? ;)

Val said...

Alas, no cheese museum for me, however the mustard museum was the bomb! Oh, and anytime you can take a brewery tour, do it!

Jess said...

I have just taken a vineyard tour. From the comfort of my living room. Haha!

Val said...

...and I just figured out this is a recap of a trip - so sorry, I was slightly out of it when I first read it...BUT, if you show up in Chicago or Wisconsin again, let me know - you can take me to the cheese museum and I will take you to New Glarus for some pints o' beer!