Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Chicago to Kansas City - the Meh Lands :P
Rest in Chicago was greatly needed. I didn't intend to stay 2 nights but in hindsight I realize there was no way I couldn't have. That warm bed, meal and rest was the only way I could have continued at the same pace. And the time I lost in Boston can't be made up. For the most part up to this point I have been riding the rig at only about 55 mph. This pic is taken right in the South side of Chicago near the Medical Center. I stop in Springfield for fuel and food, and it was one of those last minute decision that almost cost me missing the exit. I hesitated because there was no sign for services. Once I was out I saw a sign for a History Museum and decided that would be a good distraction to stretch my back and I could grab a bite and rest up after. I followed the signs to a dead end, if there was ever a museum it was now gone. The "town" is a series of strip malls, a lil run down and littered with fast food joints. I did spot a Chinese food resto and a Mexican grocery store. I was pretty decided I didn't want to experiment with any cooked food. Riding cross country is not the time for indigestion or the like. I head into the Mexican grocery store to grab some plantain chips and coconut water, turn out they also have a taco shop in there and it smell GOOD. I settle on one. Only to find myself up at the counter again. Score! After the tacos, I sit outside on the bench with 2 hitchhikers within speaking distance. I'm sitting on the bench with the older man. Its about noon, the parking lot in front is sparsely full. The gentleman on the bench beside looks about 65 or so. Baseball hat, t-shirt and jeans and a backpack with a spare set of clothes. He says he packs light and goes on about the importance of caring for your feet. He starts asking me questions, where I'm from, if I'm travelling alone, what I am carrying for supplies, what my route is - precisely the questions to make you feel uneasy. lol I learned 2 years ago when I hitchhiked cross country the best lesson you can learn early is trusting people. I would find myself in cars with people I didn't know. We would stop for gas, rest, food or the bathroom and you would have to decide whether you are gonna take all your belongings each time or TRUST these people. I personally found that people are way more trustworthy, kind, and generous than maybe the media or most people believe in general. This gentleman, used to be a truck driver and mover for most of his life. He's been all over the country except Alaska. He attended University in Hawaii. These are the people that always strike me the most when I travel like this. I want to know their stories, how does a hardworking American end up homeless. I look at his face as he talks, searching for signs of alcoholism or drug abuse. It’s usually pretty easy to see. But it’s the people like him that bother me the most because I don't see those signs. And I have had my fair share of association with "those" people. He's well spoken with a Midwest accent. He's polite and carefree. These are the people of America, who MAKE America, not who push the papers or signs the contracts. Not the people who are "to big to fail" but the people who obviously do. Just like these Midwest states, with towns just like this one where one factory went offshore and hundreds of families suffer. Or Detroit...yeah, Detroit. All you see on these roads are truckers, delivering all those precious products and produce we consume. These are the men and women who do these jobs. The younger hitchhiker sitting farther down the sidewalk chimes in regarding my route and starts rambling about roads - where they start from and end, suggesting better routes, etc. He makes a few statements I know to be false but I let it pass. He's starts bragging about all the supplies he carries. His GPS phone, 2 weeks of socks, 1 week of underwear, etc...on and on and on. Not to mention he also has a dog AND cat. I always have a higher level of respect for anyone who can keep a cat on a leash. An argument ensues between the two hitchhikers about the roads. I know the older gentleman to be correct. The younger guy threatens to check his GPS and is humbled when it proves the older gentleman correct. But he no sooner finds something else to vehemently disagree with the older guy about. We are joined by a younger woman at the bench, which apparently is also a bus stop, I use the opportunity to head out and offer her my seat. I head farther south and I stop at a rest area for dinner several hours later. Honestly I did most of this part of the country an injustice. Other than what I can see from the roadside...I missed most of what ever laid beyond it. Other than stopping for gas, stretching and restroom - I wiz passed Litchfield, St Louis, Columbia and Jefferson City. I don't get into Kansas City until about 11:45 at night...I have one thing on my mind. Beer. My cousin is in her 20's, college grad and works for TSA here in Kansas City. She previously worked for them in Boston and North Dakota. When I hitchhiked 2 years ago, I was trying to see Mount Rushmore then and then go see her in North Dakota. Kamissa, my cousin, claims there is a Haitian resto here in Kansas City... we SHALL SEE! (if you think my use of the word "resto" is just so I don't have to spell "restaurant"...you may be right) Here are a few pics from along the way... later.