2,451 miles according to Google, and we’ve done just over 200 of them on our first of 22 days. We picked up our car from Chicago’s Midway Airport this morning (taking our last lot of public transport for a while) and headed north back into down town for the official start on Adams street, opposite the art institute. The weather had turned a bit miserable and we were glad to be in a car rather than walking the streets. We were lucky with the weather in Chicago, two decent days to explore the city with. Going up sky scrapers, eating deep dish pizza’s and listening to blues.
One of our days in Chicago was a close contender for one of my favourite 12 hours of the entire trip so far. The morning after our cocktails atop the Hancock centre, we headed skyward again; this time to the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. It is the city of skyscrapers after all. Until surpassed a few years ago it was the tallest building in the world and is still the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. The viewing deck comes complete with 4 glass boxes jutting out from the western side which allow you look directly past your feet down to the street below. Not exactly fun for the vertigo sufferers among us! We got great views of the city, Lake Michigan and even picked out the road which we are now traveling as it stretched off in the distance in a perfectly straight line.
After working up an appetite viewing the whole of the city (actually seems to spend more time watch other tourists pose in the glass boxes) we went in search of Chicagos deep dish pizza. We were headed for the supposed inventor, or at least the restaurant where it was invented. No knock off Nigels for us! It was a good decision; understandably it was busy, but we were offered a seat at the bar where you could still order and eat food. That was pretty fun in itself, feeling typically American we ordered our two individual sized deep dish pizzas. I had asked the barman for his advice on sizes and he assured us that the individual size was plenty for one, I banked on that meaning that I’d have more than enough or that Suzanne wouldn’t have a bit left over so I refrained from ordering the next size up. Close but no cigar. I finished mine quite easily with room for more and it turned out to be the perfect amount for Suzanne (never count on runners with hollow legs to leave you food!) so my only regret was that I would have liked a bit more! Other than that they were amazing and are giving New Orleans’ fried chicken a close run the best ‘merica food so far!
To finish of the great 12 hours we headed to one of Chicago’s blues bars that advertised two acts across two stages 7 days a week. And what a couple of acts! Easily the best experience of the whole trip so far, the acts perfectly performed a mix of classics like ain’t no sunshine and mans world with original songs of their own. We hopped back and forth between stages for a few hours watching the acts perform. One band had a keyboard accompanying a singer with a very soulful voice expertly, the other had a lead singer who was able to walk into the crowd and sing without a microphone, I’m sure at the top of his lungs, and still hold all his notes. It’s hard to express in words how much I enjoyed so I’ll just say it was really, really, really, really good. In addition the beer was cheaper than a lot of other places and the Jack Daniels tasted particularly sweet.
So I guess you can tell Chicago was enjoyable, we spent the rest of the time walking around and seeing the rest of the city we walked along the Chicago river, went to navy pier and rode the elevated loop transit around downtown. We left Chicago district’s at around 1pm today, car successfully collected and driven back to Chicago centre before turning away from Lake Michigan and pointing it roughly west. We very successfully followed our maps and guide book 200 miles to the city of Springfield and arrived at about 7.30pm. Until the sun went down on us we had a great time rolling over some original parts of the road laid down in the 1920’s! We travelled through small towns looking out for all kinds of whacky Americana from bright neon signs to roadside giants holding hot dogs (why not?) from restored vintage gas pumps to murals celebrating the life and times of Route 66 (it’s now been decommissioned so only exists as Historic Route 66, even though the road is still actually there, our maps point which roads are the ones to follow). Once the sun went down there was no longer much to see, live and learn ay, we will be parking up at sunset from now on (hopefully). But apart from that it was great. I’m sure it won’t be, but if the next 2,200 miles are as enjoyable and plain sailing as the first 200 we’re in for a very good three weeks!