Road Trip 2: The Return

Day 5: Wednesday, July 3

We only had about five hours of driving left before we’d arrive in Ottawa, Illinois, home of Lisa’s brother Brian and sister-in-law Amanda and our halfway house until we found an apartment in Chicago. By this time, we had about run out of groceries, so we stopped at the Happy Chef, the truck stop located neatly between Adair City Park and the freeway, for a hefty breakfast reminscent of Eat and Park fare. Although not crowded, there were a number of customers, mainly truckers and travelers like ourselves, dining in. We sat across the aisle from a particularly conversational man who kept striking it up with other customers. To our amusement, we overheard him say that he had to keep up with his alimony payments because he was “too old be somebody else’s shirley” in prison.

On the road, we definitely had the feeling of coming down the home stretch. It seemed like no time before we crossed the Mississippi into Illinois. We called Amanda to warn her of our imminent approach, and then promptly delayed ourselves by stopping at a Dairy Queen. Although we were tempted many times, these were our first Blizzards on the road trip.

It was mid-afternoon when we pulled into Ottawa, and it was sweltering hot. After we let ourselves be greeted by the three hounds, we went about unloading the car, with Amanda and her niece Jacqui’s gracious assistance. We’d become increasingly anxious over the Toyota’s sagging bottom, and wanted to see it bounce up to its normal height. Everything went down to the mercifully cool basement where we would be staying, and by the time it was over, we were more than ready to take a shower. The fact that neither of us had washed our hair with actual shampoo in four days (we ran out just before leaving on the trip, and hadn’t bothered to replace it — not enough room in the car, anyway), only added to the urgency.

And then, finally, we were able to relax. After we called Amtrak, that is, and determined that our shipment had not yet arrived, which meant we didn’t need to rush into Chicago immediately to pick up the stuff before a storage charge was added to the tab. As fun and trouble-free as the whole trip had been, it was high time to be out of the car, doing nothing more than enjoying the holiday, the presence of family, and — of course — the air conditioning.

Epilogue »

Adair Shelter Chester Two Hounds Sleeping Max
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