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Quickly popping in to recap the trip thus far before I forget too much of it.  So after TESfest, I drove to NYC to pick up the two guys who would be accompanying me out west.  One guy I’d met a couple months prior, when I’d sent out feelers on campus for anyone who’d want to go with me, and he responded.  The other I didn’t meet until I picked them both up, a childhood friend of Guy 1.  Guy 1 and Guy 2.  Maybe I’ll think of better names for them later.

So we headed out for Cleveland to stay with a friend of mine, hitting some bizarrely heavy stop-and-go traffic in the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania.  I suppose it was the road construction, but even then it seemed ridiculously slow. So instead of making it to Ohio by 8 like I’d hoped, we got in around 10:30pm, but my friend was so welcoming and a wonderful host.  Not to mention his mom is an amazing cook and had made plenty of food for us beforehand.  After a late supper, we played a couple rounds of Pictionary, which I’d brought along.

The next morning, we made French toast and then decided to explore the art museum and buildings nearby.  Cleveland has a beautiful and huge art museum, and admission is free due to an enormous endowment.  So we went through the museum, explored a Frank Gehry building at Case Western University that purportedly has no right angles in its general design, and just walked around.

We got back to the car and I heard an “Uh oh” from Guy 2.  He pointed to my rear passenger tire, which was completely flat.  Luckily, I’d bought a can of Fix-A-Flat after my last flat tire incident a couple years ago, so we pumped the stuff into the tire to get it partially inflated, then drove to a mechanic’s to remove a screw that had been imbedded in the tire.  Wonderful.

The mechanic just plugged the tire with a rubber plug and said it’ll be fine.  Note: this is foreshadowing.

We got back to my friend’s house, eat another delicious meal, and pack up to head to Chicago.  It took us about 6 hours to get there, with multiple pit stops along the way thanks to an UTI that started Sunday.  It seemed only to be getting worse despite the cranberry juice I’ve been downing, and I was getting a little worried.  But we got into the city at 11pm again, met up with Guy 2’s girlfriend, and got another late dinner.  The girl took us to a nearby park afterwards with some tables and benches, and we broke out the Pictionary again.  Finally we called it a night, Guy 2 went with girl, and Guy 1 and I headed to my friend’s apartment to crash.

Early the next morning I drove to one of Walgreen’s walk-in clinics to get treated for my UTI.  What a godsend.  It was quick, the nurse was so helpful and kind, and I got my antibiotics quickly and easily right from the store pharmacy.  With meds and a gallon of cranberry juice in tow, I returned to the apartment as Guy 1 was getting ready to head to a Cub’s game with friends.  I just bummed around on the couch, content to swig the juice and stay near a bathroom for a couple hours.

Earlier in the day, Dov had set me up to connect with a friend of his in Chicago, and I met up with her at a Tapas bar later that afternoon.  It was wonderful to finally get to talk to someone about my TESfest experience and just kinky topics in general.  And it was my first time eating tapas as well, which were delicious.  After we finished our two-hour long chat, I made my way back to my roadtrippees, and we ate a spectacular dinner of lamb, rice, and broccoli at Guy 2’s girl’s house.  Incredible apartment containing artwork of Damien Hirst and Kara Walker, my god…I have never seen such a wealthy apartment before.

The others went to go bowling and I, tired, went home to get an early night’s sleep.  Didn’t quite happen that way, as my friend’s roommate started chatting with me about my roadtrip.  Finally hinted that I had an early morning drive around 11pm, and he left.

Where am I now, Wednesday morning?  We left Chicago a little before noon after much discussion and head-scratching on which direction to go.  We ended up passing through St. Louis and halfway through Missouri before finding a camping area at a National Forest.  We set up a tent and got a little fire started, and cooked a simple but satisfying meal of pasta and beef stew.  While chatting in the dark around the fire, we had started to relax when there came a rustling not far off from our campsite.  We listened, made noise, and called out, but the rustling persisted even closer, until I finally urged Guy 1 to turn on his headlamp.  He flashed the light towards the noise, and we saw an armadillo waddling slowly towards us.  Whew!  It slowly trundled away, completely nonplussed, and we got a good laugh out of the sight.

Thursday morning we cleaned up the site and removed our traces, then headed back on the highway towards Santa Fe.

However, that is a whole other post on its own, and I have to get ready for dinner.  So many unexpected things have occurred so far, but on the whole I am happy and feel lucky for the people I’ve been with and the adventure so far.

Our running joke statement: “Well, if this is the worst thing to happen to us…”

Next time: A long run-in with Murphy’s Law.

Categories: travelog
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  1. July 30, 2009 at 2:24 am

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