Thursday, June 16, 2011

The road less traveled – and for good reason!

Breakfast at Mr. Filet.

Thursday, May 26, 2011 — Started off my vacation with a Greek omelet, hash browns and coffee at Mr. Filet. Sated, I mosey to the Greyhound station in time to start the queue at Door No. 1.

Somewhere out west a bus hit a deer and apparently did not fare too well. The consequence of this solitary act led to my Chicago-bound bus being three seats shy of capacity.

At first the trip appeared doomed from the start as I was stuck sitting next to some big-shouldered, gum-smacking, blanket-wielding cabron going all the way to Chicago.

Fortunately the driver freed up a seat behind him, next to his luggage. I gave the cabron first opportunity but it didn’t have enough legroom for him, so I happily jumped for it.. It's cramped and a seat belt catch dug into my ass, but I did get some ‘me’ space and found a plug-in for my devices.

Brief stop at the Ottumwa station. Very brief. Normally there’s a ten-to-fifteen minute smoke break here, but today we’re here only long enough to shove someone aboard. Only two open seats left.

Old woman across the aisle eating Cheetos. I can't help but thinking it looks like a dog pooping, but in reverse.

The Burlington Trailways bus station in West Burlington, though clean and safe, is a nexus of humanity. Still, it’s better than waiting around in the Chicago terminal. Waiting for the rest of the incoming buses to arrive before they start seating outbound routes.

Lucky enough to get the same aisle seat behind the driver. Unlucky to get a passenger in the window seat on my left. He lays out out his half-eaten chicken sandwich and bottled Pepsi on the recessed shelf in front of us, then goes on the nod.

The sandwich and pop shift around on the shelf as we make our way through Illinois until his chicken burger fall off and somehow lands next to the driver’s leg. Driver shrugs off the near miss and plops the chicken into the trash. I let Sleeping Beauty doze on.

I-80. Mile marker 27 in Illinois. Above a former Stuckey's. A sign on a pole. Black letters on yellow. A-D-U-L-T. Must I guess that it's porn?

An alarm goes off! The bus loses air pressure – critical for braking – while on a stretch of I-80 pared down to one lane in each direction, with nowhere to pull off as the ride gets rougher. Joy!

Finally we pull off into a Sapp Bros. truck stop outside Peru. Driver on phone with shop guys. Seemed confident the problem has taken care of itself. Soon we are back on the road. Dude sleeping next to me takes up more as he sprawls out.

You can't truly experience a bus ride until you stop and smell the flatus.

Pull into the Chicago Greyhound station ninety minutes late, mainly to the rush hour traffic we had to endure for the last forty-five minutes. I wait for a good ten minutes until I get my baggage from underneath. Quickly I dash away, and make a needed pit stop at the Amtrak station, and to purchase my return tickets.

From there I had to swim upstream a half-mile through the steady flow of commuters rushing to the train station before getting to my hotel.

First impressions of the Hotel Allegro. The place is a little too full of itself for what you get. It’s nice and all that, but does seem more geared to cater to the well-heeled douche.

It's 43 degrees here in Chicago! Did I just go back in time to the beginning of May? Glad I packed the hoodie.

A quick walk up Wells and I come to my dinner destination: Lou Malnati’s. Holy shit! It’s a tightly-packed nightmare of humanity inside, but I just manage to get a seat at the bar. And a pint of Peroni.

I love when I make a public crack about hating white people. Being "white", the whiteys around me are usually speechless.

I like the atmosphere at the Exchequer Pub in the Loop much better [see blog post]. This outpost of the Lou Malnati's franchise is too much of a douche magnet. The pizza better be good [see blog post].

I've seen the mountain top that is Binny's Beverage Depot at the corner of Grand and Franklin. And it is good. Unfortunately I arrive just before store closing, so I bid adieu to return when I have some quality time for browsing.

Marquee sign outside sushi bar: "WELCOME NRA." The NRA eats sushi?!?!

After a lengthy search to find a CTA pass vendor I am beat. Too late to find a proper dessert near the hotel, without paying a fortune at 312 Chicago, so I settled for some crap coffee drink from 7-Eleven. I do not thank Heaven.

High of 53 degrees tomorrow. Saturday a 40% chance of t-storms. Last time I take a Midwest vacation on Memorial Day weekend.

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