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[personal profile] occultatio
Time on road: 9 hours
Distance covered: 485 miles

Total driving time: 24.5 hours
Total distance: 1259 miles

This was a big driving day, as the numbers indicate: our goal was to power through as much of the boring parts of the trip as possible in a single go, giving us more time for the fun stuff in Wisconsin. We drove from Erie to Cleveland first thing in the morning, arriving at about 10:30 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tickets were expensive at $22 each, and they slowed down the line by making everybody pose for photos with an electric guitar before buying them, but the museum itself was pretty neat. There were a whole lot of "famous outfits used on stage" by big stars, and a metric ton of neat memorabilia. Probably the coolest single item was Billy Joel's notebook in which he composed "We Didn't Start the Fire," from which I learned that the lyrics are actually divided into different years at regular intervals, and not just a random collection of historical name-dropping moving generally forward in time.

The museum was also advertising a special exhibit on Bruce Springsteen, which confused me inasmuch as his whole image is as the anti-rock-star, a songwriter in a t-shirt and blue jeans, and I had no idea what would be on display. Turns out: not that much. A bunch of pages from his journals, a bunch of concert posters, and, like, a totally ordinary chair and desk "at which many of his songs were written."

Afterwards, we attempted to find lunch in downtown Cleveland, which involved on the whole far too much walking through downtown Cleveland until we found a little noodle place billing itself as one of those "healthy lunch" alternatives for corporate shirts. It probably was healthy, really, but the ambiance was thrown completely off by their use of heavy styrofoam cups for all their drinks. Still: rice noodles in peanut sauce with a glass (/styrofoam) of limeade = a much better lunch than we expected to find in Cleveland.

(Checklist, for those playing along at home: we saw the poor people all wait for buses, a guy with at least two DUIs and the thing they think is art. We did not see, despite keeping an avid eye out the window, the river that catches on fire or a statue of Moses Cleveland (the guy who invented Cleveland). It was also gray and rainy, as promised. We noticed the irony, as we were leaving, that those videos had actually served as genuine tourism videos in the end.)

Next came the marathon drive to Chicago. Armed with the address of a pizza place/gelateria highly recommended on Yelp, we set out at about 1:30, Eastern time, and arrived just before 7 PM, Central time, after 6 1/2 hours on the road, the last hour of which was spent traversing the last 15 or so miles from the highway to the restaurant. What the Yelp page didn't mention, or at least mention where I had seen it, was that the restaurant (which turned out to actually be a small Italian grocery store) closed at 7, a fact we discovered ourselves when the owner locked the door behind us as we entered, so that nobody else could come in.

Thus, we ended up eating at another Italian restaurant that Alexa had spotted a half mile away, which had an ambiance I can only describe as "like one of those places your grandparents took you when you were younger." It was called, for instance, "Al's." The lack of a double possessive was refreshing, the portions were huge and the quality was totally fine, especially the melted mozzarella which was basically troweled on top of my chicken parmesan. We ate until we were full, and then Alexa observed that we both desperately needed fruit, inasmuch as she felt totally stuffed but was still attempting to eat her tomato sauce.

This was accomplished by finding what turned out to be a Mexican supermarket a few blocks away, where we got a whole bunch of very cheap and not very good plums, along with a 12-pack of Pineapple Crush soda, because wtf. (The rationale was actually: "If it sucks, we can save it and drag it out at parties and make people drink it!") Finally, we found a Motel 6 a few miles away from the city center, and stopped for the night
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March 2010

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