I’m writing tonight from a motel in Mequon, WI – just north of Milwaukee. The story of the day is the trip here.
We left Connecticut on Southwest’s 12:50 PM flight to Chicago’s Midway Airport. Driving to the airport, parking and boarding was no problem. In fact, somehow Helaine has gotten off the TSA’s ‘frisk me every time’ list. We don’t know how.
Thunderstorms were expected this afternoon in Connecticut (and from the radar, it looks like much of the state got hit). That meant building clouds as we flew west and a very bumpy ride.
It didn’t much matter, because no sooner had we left the ground than I had my ‘ox yoke’ on and was snoozing. That lasted nearly 45 minutes, which was when someone right behind us began sneezing.
These weren’t dainty achoos. This was projectile sneezing! Then another nearby voice loudly complained that someone else had spilled a drink on him.
There would be no more sleeping for me.
We were on time into Midway. I know the airport because I’ve seen it so many times from Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. From the air it looks like a square plot with criss crossing runways.
Since it’s the second airport in Chicago, I expected it to be a small facility. Houston’s like that with Hobby versus IAH. I could not have been more wrong. I was very surprised.
While Helaine and Stef went for the bags, I headed to Hertz to fill out the paperwork for our car. Helaine had found an unbelievable deal on Hotwire – better than half off anything else available.
Before I go on, let me mention the obvious. It could have been named Pleasant Experience Rent-a-car. It was not. Though an alternative spelling was used, Hertz pretty much sums up my experience today.
There were two people behind the counter and somewhere between 15 and 20 in line when I arrived just before 2:15 PM! Though two others would be added to the staff, it took a full hour (almost to the minute) before I was served.
The woman behind the counter was nice enough. She slavishly asked each insurance and gasoline question, though she must have known from my answer to question one that I was saying no to everything.
About three quarters of the way through the process, a woman came up behind her and whispered in her ear. Helaine heard the words, “emergency at home.” In a flash she was gone.
Her replacement came out a few minutes later. The first thing we noticed about her was that she didn’t seem to notice us. It was as if we were totally invisible.
She immediately set out to clean her area. She rearranged papers, moved things, lowered the computer keyboard, sanitized the desk. When she finally looked up at us, she said, “Do you think I have a problem?”
I didn’t have the heart to tell her how many paragraphs she’d get. Helaine looked at me and said, “This is going in the blog.”
Our car is a Buick La Cross. You know, it’s not bad. Good going GM. It’s got comfortable large seats and a good size tunk… though without a light (or at least a working light).
We headed north for Milwaukee. Midway is an old airport, shoehorned in by neighborhoods that have grown around it. Traffic was heavy and slow as we moved down busy Cicero toward I-55 South.
The idea was to skirt around Chicago and avoid the traffic. Still, it’s disconcerting to get on the ramp for I-55 toward St. Louis.
We took I-55 to I-294, the Illinois Tollway. Illinois has its own RFID toll system – I-Pass. I don’t have one. I should have thought about that before I got caught in an I-Pass only lane! I’ll let you know when they catch up with me and send the bill.
The traffic was horrendous. We stopped more than once. At other times we were cruising along at 4 or 5 mph.
In case you’ve never been to the Midwest, a little physical description: nondescript. It is much less green than Connecticut. The vegetation is significantly more scrubby. There are probably other locales less physically stirring. I just can’t think of any off hand.
Somewhere in Northern Illinois things lightened up and we started to move nicely. The three of us were happy…then a police car raced by… and another.
North of Milwaukee a tanker truck was on the center divider. A set of wheels was at a 90° angle to the truck and connected to nothing. Good grief – another half hour lost I’ll never get back.
We did finally make it to the hotel and dinner with my folks, sister and brother-in-law.
Honestly, I’m so exhausted right now the story will just have to wait.