Day Two

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Good evening and welcome to the Comfort Inn and Suites in DeForest, Wisconsin. We left our hotel in Streetsboro, Ohio this morning a little after 8:30. During the course of the day we traveled from Ohio, to Indiana, to Illinois, to Wisconsin…another 4 state day for us. We pulled into the hotel tonight right around 4:45 PM. Not bad for a 503 mile day! Oh, if you’re trying to do the math on that, and came up with an average speed for us of like 98 MPH, you need one more piece of information. As we crossed from Indiana into Illinois, we also crossed from the Eastern time zone to the Central time zone. Our 4:45 arrival was really 5:45 in our former time zone!

Today we also left our old friend Route 80 and transitioned to Interstate 90, which will be our home for the next several days. We left the hotel without partaking in their free “Continental Breakfast” this morning, and during one of our driver switches/bathroom breaks, Susie dug out our usual beach snack, cheese crackers. It was only then that she discovered that she bought the wrong ones for herself. Rather than peanut butter on cheese crackers, we had cheese on cheese crackers. Oh well, next purchase we’ll get it right! Lunch was at a rest area and was one of our staples on any road trip…ham and cheese rollups and Ritz crackers. Snacks were very nice Strawberry Twizzlers..one of our favorite car snacks!

A couple of words on the roads we traveled today. The first is that obviously the word for today is CONSTRUCTION. Well, really it’s two words, Road Construction! It appears that most of the roads in the Midwest are getting repaired or totally rebuilt! From the Ohio Turnpike, to the Indiana Toll Road, right through Illinois and Wisconsin. Mile after mile of “Road Work Ahead” signs. Even some that were just feet after an “End Roadwork” sign! Oh my God!!!

The second thing we must say about our travels today is that the state of Indiana should be ashamed for what they laughingly call the Indiana Toll Road! What a horrible mess!! Mile after mile under construction with only one lane open and with a 45 MPH speed limit. (Which ultimately became 35-40 MPH due to trucks driving uphill!). Then the rest areas…two out of the four don’t exist! Signs that say “Rest Area Closed” as you come to the exit for the alleged rest area. Roads going off and coming back on, but then nothing. They apparently just obliterated any trace of the rest area…buildings, gas stations, parking places. Don’t know if this is the way Indiana “re-builds”, but it really puts a crimp in your plans if you want to switch drivers or God forbid, need to go to the bathroom!!!! The real stick in the eye is that even though this is Interstate 80, YOU PAY TO DRIVE ON THIS ROAD!!! We ended up adding close to an hour to our travels today thanks to the condition of this road! We really should have known what was ahead when the “Welcome to Indiana” sign was missing, and we were greeted by two naked poles as we entered the state!

imageSo today Susie ended up driving through Chicago, thanks to the fact that the last rest area on the Indiana Toll Road was CLOSED!! The last time we were in Chicago was a couple of years ago when youngest son Kenny was working at the Wagon Wheel Theater in Warsaw, Indiana doing the Jean Shepard show, Christmas Story, the Musical. That was the time we stupidly attempted to see the house my Grandparents lived in on the South Side of Chicago, and thought we were going to die for our efforts. Today we just went through the city on the Interstate and kept on going…as well as we could with the road construction!!!

imageToday was real Kenny day, because just before our day ended we drove by another one of Kenny’s stops, Janesville, Wisconsin. A couple of years ago, Kenny did two shows at the Armory Theater in Janesville, Wedding Singer and Miracle on 34th Street. That year. the whole family (Krissi, Billy and Lori…there were no little D’Elias yet) traveled to see him in Wedding Singer in October, and then just Susie and I came back in December to see him in Miracle on 34th Street. So between those trips, and a trip Susie and I made before we even had kids, to the Midwest and the Wisconsin Dells, we’ve been here before!

As we left the state of Illinois and entered Wisconsin, we also left EzPass territory. As of tomorrow, any tolls we come across until we are back on the East Coast will be paid in hard cash! Tomorrow we enter new territory, and if plans go right, tomorrow night you can read about our visit to the Spam Museum!!!

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imageDinner tonight was at a place called Norske Nook Restaurant imageand Bakery. Since we are in Wisconsin, we had to start with Fried Cheese Curds! We both had great looking sandwiches on bread that they make right on the premises. The list of pies (as you can see above) is extensive. A couple of to-go pieces somehow ended up in the car. We will report tomorrow!

Two pictures before we leave you tonight. It was Boat Day on Interstate 80 today. Here are both ends of the spectrum!

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Oh, and we came across a house on the road, when Susie was driving today!!!

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See you tomorrow!!

Our Big Adventure, Day One

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So, the end of day one on the road finds us in the Econo Lodge in Streetsboro, Ohio! We left the house in Mineola at 8:20 this morning, made a stop in Astoria to drop off our daughter Krissi (she came on Friday night to spend the last weekend with us), and then it was over the Triboro Bridge (or the RFK if you choose to use it’s new name), up the Major Deegan Expressway to the George Washington Bridge, and onto Interstate 80, where we spent the entire day. We drove up to the hotel at about 5:10, so not a bad day of driving at all. We went from New York, to New Jersey, to Pennsylvania, and now Ohio. Four states in day one and we drove a total of 451 miles and are are still on our first tank of gas!

The weather was sunny when we left Long Island this morning, and there were occasional sprinkles all through New Jersey, but when we got to Pennsylvania, boy did it start raining! We stopped at a rest area to use the bathroom, and took a shower at the same time. I felt bad because Susie was driving through a lot of it, and on a couple of occasions, it was almost like a switch was flipped as we went from showers to torrential rain in the blink of an eye! Not fun to drive through! Then we came upon an accident in one of the more mountainous regions of Pennsylvania. Some yahoo in a pickup truck was sideways off the road (I say yahoo, because rain or shine, we see folks driving like they are late for their wedding and not giving a damn about safety). There were Police and a wrecker already there, but as we were 3 cars from the accident, they stopped all traffic so that the wrecker could pull the truck back on the road. We sat there for better than 15 minutes…in the rain…such fun!

imageSome highlights of today…First breakfast. We chose to stop at a place we have eaten at more times than we can count, the Landmark Diner just off exit 309 of I-80 in Pennsylvania. This place has a lot of history in our family, and in Susie’s family before there was an us. For years and years, Sue’s Mom and Dad would spend a week at a golf resort in Marshall’s Creek, PA called Mountain Manor. Over the years, they made good friends who also vacationed there during the same week and who lived near them on Long Island. The Landmark Diner was about 2 hours from Long Island, and they would all rendezvous there on the morning they checked in, and have breakfast. Year after year, more folks would join in the group, and eventually we were part of the group who would have breakfast at the Landmark. The summer of 1983, we took a very young Billy there and Frank’s folks even joined the group! When Kenny and Krissi joined our family, we would still head up to that area and always stop there, Turn the clock ahead a few years to when Billy was going to Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. We discovered the best way to get there was to head out Route 80 to Pennsylvania and then go north back into New York State, and yes, then too we would pull off 80 as soon as we crossed the Delaware Water Gap Bridge and have breakfast. Susie thinks that the last time we were there was about 4 or 5 years ago, and we were thrilled to find this morning that it was just as good as we remember! Susie had Creamed Chipped Beef over toast (probably the last time we see that on a menu) and I had a Pulled Pork Omelette! Oh, and don’t forget the home fries….they are still wonderful! The restaurant is a little bigger, the counter is gone (where you could watch them cook the food) and the bathrooms are no longer behind the building, but enough is the same to still make it a special stop off!

Then we were back onto Interstate 80 West heading towards our adventure! At mile marker 111(FYI..at the NJ/Penn border on 80 you are at mile marker 310 and at the Penn/Ohio border you are at mile marker 0) we came across an interesting sign. It said, “You are now at the highest point on Route 80 east of the Mississippi – Elevation 2,250 Feet”. Impressive for Pennsylvania, but not where we are going. Forget the Rocky Mountains or even Pikes Peak, when we are at Mount Rushmore this Friday we will be at 4000 + feet already! Start storing oxygen now!!

So dinner tonight was at Ruby Tuesdays, a place we haven’t been to for years. Even though there is one less than 2 miles from our house in Mineola, we traveled 450+ imagemiles for their salad bar tonight! Then we filled the car up with gas (Sheetz Gas…I kid you not) at $1.95 a gallon, headed back to the hotel and are relaxing with some vodka on the rocks (in our travel plastic cups!)! Tomorrow we hope to cover just under 500 miles and stop near Janesville, Wisconsin…a place we’ve visited before when Kenny was performing at the Armory Theater there.

imageOh, The Big Adventure tip of the day has to do with an App that my cousins, Jeanne and Walt Pratt shared with us called iExit. It cost me 99 cents at the iTunes store, and Jeanne and Walt said it was useful finding what kinds of food, gas, hotels, etc. are at every exit on the interstates. In addition, it gives you the latest prices for gas at the various stations so you always know what you are getting into. When we started trying it out today, Susie started talking about a little hand held digital gadget we had way back in the 90s. After you told it what road you were on, what mile marker you were near, and what direction you were heading, it would tell you how close the next rest stop was and what services they had there. She said it’s too bad they don’t make an App for that. Well, I hit a couple of buttons on iExit and discovered it will also search for rest areas! It was perfect, and we made use of it several times today looking for places to switch drivers. Thanks Jeanne and Walt…welcome along!

On the Road Again…….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvwojnLeMH4