On My Itinerary: we’re driving to Chicago

Hark. We’re driving to Chicago. In a car. From Baltimore. I don’t know why this is such news, considering I did this route many times between St. Louis – New York during college, and Chicago- New York during graduate school, and even Los Angeles- New York when I moved out west. But perhaps now that I’m no longer 19 years old, the concept of driving all night (“ROADTRIP!!!”) is no longer as exciting. I mean, what’s wrong with an airplane? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with an airplane: it would have cost us more than $700 total to jet to Chicago for the weekend for Jon’s friend’s wedding, thanks to airline mergers, fewer seats, higher prices, overbooking, summer vacation and the recession.

So we’re driving. (Also because the in-laws really want us to take things from the basement to our house.) The trip is slightly shorter than if we left from New York (12 hours), which is good, and cuts down the time winding through Pennsylvania significantly, which is also good, but we’ll still have to contend with the long stretch of Ohio, which is bad and boring. I’m contemplating making a few stops in Amish country, and maybe even in Cleveland after seeing the hilarious video about the city which was so funny, I’ve had to post it here.

However, I have learned quite a bit about driving long distances, which I’m happy to share here.

1. Check your oil, tire pressure, windshield wiper fluid, brakes, battery, etc. It helps to have your car in good shape before you head out.

2. Use RainX on your windshield. Especially in winter. The directions say to “squeeze a small amount on a cloth and wipe” but the actual directions should be “squeeze large amount all over windshield, then use a lot of paper towels to rub it until no more streaks show.”

3. If you’re packing a full trunk, make sure you can access your spare easily. My friend was stuck unloading her truck in the middle of an Arizona desert and putting her laundry, fax machine, bedding and pillows on the highway after a flat.

4. Keep a phone charger in your car.

5. Don’t play the see-how-far-your-car-can-drive after the gas light goes on. Fill up before it reaches the E.

6. Have kids in the car? Read this blog entry I wrote a couple weeks ago.

7. Keep Wet-Ones and napkins/ paper towels within reach. And a plastic bag to act as a trash collector.

8.  Switch drivers often. Drink coffee. Eat beef jerky and carrots. Sing songs together. Contemplate short-term and long-term life plans. Listen to weird religious talk radio in other states. It’s an educational and cultural way to learn about our country.

More importantly, we’re headed to KENYA and TANZANIA the weekend after, so stayed tuned for the more exciting updates on that (I assure you, they will be more interesting than the blog entry about the cheese we try in Dutch Pennsylvania).

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Filed under North America, On My Itinerary, Wanderings

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