Sat. July 28, 2012- Illinois to Michigan:
After sleeping in, I headed out alone around the block to Dunkin’ Donuts and what a pleasant surprise! The street was blocked off for a farmers market but nothing really caught my eye for breakfast. The cashier at Dunkin’ laughed at me for paying with a $50 for a cup of coffee, it was not my fault, and it was towards the end of the trip when all I had left were big bills. I almost ran back to the hotel to get Brent so that we could go explore the farmers market, I was really hungry. Delightful Pastries caught my eye, they had delightful pączki. The pączek was filled with delightful strawberry preserves and was cut in half to fit in some delightful whipped cream, which in turn made it monstrously huge. I took one bite, nearly dislocating my jaw, and splat, the whipped cream went all over my hand, down my front and onto my legs. While my face ended up covered in not just whipped cream, but also powdered sugar from the top, I even ended up with whipped cream on my nose, all to Brent’s delight as he laughed and laughed at my hilarious predicament.
We had ventured out without a map, trying to get to the Lincoln Park zoo from memory; thankfully Lincoln Park had wonderful signs pointing the way. As it turns out, the zoo grounds open at 9am, and the buildings open at 10am, we could have gotten there earlier. Because we were there so early however, all the animals were out and about. Some of them were being fed as well. The jaguar had just been fed and two cages down a lynx was anxiously pacing back and forth, it knew that food was on its way. There was a baby gibbon monkey playing with his mother, chasing each other around the enclosure and swinging on the ropes, it was unbelievably cute. The chimps were sticking their arms through the fence to get the tall blades of grass on the other side. There was an old (as in liver-spotted and gray) chimp chowing down on a head of lettuce. Even the local sparrows were in on the feeding frenzy, teasing the injured bald eagle, by precariously perching on the fence just within reach. We were excited about seeing the rhino exhibit because we read that for Chicago’s 175th birthday a small mock-up of the city was placed in their enclosure and that the rhinos proceeded to destroy it. All we saw was rhino butt. The other animals were a lot more entertaining: the flamingos were fighting; kookaburras laughing; vultures turning their heads all the way around and wild dogs fighting over a mostly-eaten rack of ribs when there was another untouched one less than 20 feet away on the side of the hill. Towards the end we really had to rush (as is our apparent tradition in the Lincoln Park Zoo) and we ended up arriving at the hotel late and checking out late. We had gone too far east and had to backtrack, but it all worked out in the end, we were not that late.
We drove to the American-Polish museum but 1.) it appeared to be closed and 2.) it did not look like a museum, it said Polish-American Union on the side, as if it were a bank. We tried to drive to the Polish district but the road was blocked off for a street festival. We bailed and went for the highway, with the promise of the McDonalds ion the toll bridge. As we drove out of Chicago we were listening to a podcast about the Great Chicago Fire. The pull off for the McDonalds was a bit confusing- and it was missed. No McDonalds on a toll bridge for me. Then there was a really slow line-up at the toll booth because it was automated. We finally pulled up, and did not have any change, so I handed over a $5 and rather than spit out my change, the machine decided to eat my change. How nice. My day had turned rather sour. We held up the line while buzzing for help, the woman claimed that when the machine was audited they would mail me my change. Somehow I don’t believe her.
The GPS led us to a dead end, not the Hardee’s it had promised. I settled for Wendy’s because hunger was not helping my sour mood, maybe chicken nuggets and a cheeseburger would help. Dessert was candy from Walgreen’s, a Coconut Twix that was ok and Skittles, which I had thought were new but upon eating them, realized they were not. A welcome to Michigan sign cheered me up a little, but our streak had been broken. There was a Big Boy along the way and I insisted on stopping there, I walked in only to realize it was a sit-down place. We arrived at the hotel just in time to drop our stuff and head out to explore Lansing, Michigan the old rattle-trap of a town (that is what it was called on a historical info board). Also on the board were some hilarious other possible names plus wonderful little facts such as when Lansing was named the capitol, people thought it was a joke. The capitol building was not as pretty as the one in Montpelier, and there was nothing else to see other than the river we crossed on our way to the ballpark.
The baseball game was very low-key and laidback, except for the uptight people sitting behind us who would yell “down in front” every time anyone stood up, even when nothing was happening on the field. In the outfield instead of seats there was just a giant patch of grass for people to sprawl out on. The food and alcohol were also much cheaper here. Big Lug the mascot came out and danced on top of the dug-out. A guy walked buy carrying what appeared to be a berry-flavoured Sierra Mist, the day before we were leaving for home! I wish I had known beforehand! There was a kid sitting beside us and he was just losing it screaming “go nuts” (the team was called the Lugnuts), it was adorable and loud. There was a fireworks show right after the game, and of course they just had to play Katy Perry’s “Firework”.
Back at the hotel we were watching the Olympics. At some point I lost interest and took to amusing myself with the remote control for the bed. It was one of those sleep-numbers beds where you can adjust the bed from soft and smooshy to hard as concrete. I would lay on the bed and it would raise and lower me as I changed the number, all the while giggling like a madwoman.