July 12, 2018 (651 miles / 11.5 hours)
So I guess I should start off by saying, once again, that I realize that many miles and that long of a drive is not smart, especially on the seventeenth day of a trip. However, we were left with a dilemma today. Since we stayed in Minnesota last night, and I wanted to get east of Chicago today, we were left with the prospects of stopping somewhere in the area of South Bend, Indiana. If we had done that, and following through on the original plan, that meant we would have stopped tomorrow night somewhere in Pennsylvania about 2-3 hours from home. That just seemed dumb. Why stop so close to home? At this point, in my mind anyway, the trip is over and we’re just covering miles to get back to New Jersey. I just couldn’t come up with a good reason to stop so close to home.
So, since we were no longer going to arrive home Saturday, but instead arrive Friday, we had another decision. Do a long day today or tomorrow. I don’t like the idea of doing an eleven hour day on the last day of a trip. First, no one is in the mood for that! Second, although we will be home, there are still things to do, like unpack the camper. Therefore, things were going well, so we made today a big day and will have about 7.5 hours tomorrow.
With all that being said, we left Albert Lea, Minnesota this morning ready for the day, knowing it was just a driving day. While traversing Minnesota, I encountered a woman in a car towing a trailer. I quickly dubbed her “Miss 60-70”. Miss 60-70 like to pass me in the left lane, change lanes over to the right, and then reduce speed to 60mph. I had my cruise control set at 65mph. The speed limit was 70mph, so I like sitting at five mph under the speed limit in the right lane. I don’t usually have to change lanes and can just motor along. Except with Miss 60-70! We played the dance of her passing me, then getting in front of me, then slowing down forcing me to pass her, and repeat for at least 100 hundred miles! We finished Minnesota and some of Wisconsin playing that game. She finally found the accelerator for good somewhere in Wisconsin and pulled ahead never to be seen again. So long, Miss 60-70! Safe travels you inconsistent driver!!
We finished out Wisconsin, entered Illinois, and began the arduous task of navigating around Chicago. I have to say, I’ve never actually been to the city of Chicago, except the airport and driving around it on these trips. However, these trips have ruined that city for me. I’m sure it’s great and all, but driving around the outskirts on Interstate highways has forever made me not like Chicago! There was the usual tons of construction zones and traffic, but we’re pretty used to that being from New Jersey. I don’t think there is one paved roadway within fifty miles of Chicago that isn’t a toll road! I joked with Donna that it cost us $30 in tolls just to drive AROUND the city! Anyway, we eventually got around and quickly entered Indiana.
We entered Indiana, and another toll road, and left the big traffic behind. Before too long, we had also crossed Indiana and entered Ohio. Once in Ohio, and another toll road, we cruised to our stopping point for the night at a rest area on the Ohio Turnpike just east of Toledo. We usually stop at one of these our first night and our last night on these trips, as they put us 7-8 hours from home.
We settled in after a long day of driving, knowing tomorrow we will be home, and another great cross country trip will be over.
Tomorrow, we finish up strong and make it home!
Until next time!!!