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day 2
lost in a forest
amw
What a day! Although i woke up way too early, i chilled all morning then got on the road around 1 to find "breakfast". I figured i'd go the opposite direction from Chicago and drive till i found something that wasn't a chain. I stumbled on a nifty little bar that had a chicken fried steak (called country fried steak here) for like $5. Solid eating. I struck up a conversation with a local and we ended up chatting for about an hour. He was an interesting guy, worked as a mechanic and now retired due to a motorcycle injury. I think he was a little sweet on me, he kept asking for my number and to come by his place, though in a very gentlemanly way. Chatting with him was a cool outside perspective on what this trip means for me. He asked about a husband and kids etc and i explained that i didn't want that kind of commitment, that i'd just come out of an extremely high-stress job and all i wanted was to hit the open road and see what i could see. That was also my polite way of avoiding giving him my number, but as i was saying it i realized it was true - it's my discomfort with that sense of obligation and feeling like i "ought" to live my life a certain way that made my marriage fail and made me want to get the fuck out of Toronto. Honestly, if i had my way i would just keep driving across America forever, but immigration and finances won't allow it.

Still, i got quite a drive in today. The guy i was talking to told me about an Amish community somewhere south-east of the bar. Since i wanted Mennonite pie for my birthday and never ended up doing it, i thought i'd see if i could find it. I just turned down whatever little country roads felt like the right direction. Never found the Amish, but i had a lovely drive through the fields, helped a lady find her way back out of a "no exit" road (she gave me a Watchtower in return) and suddenly ended up at Target. It just sprung out of the corn like a ruby scarecrow. I grabbed some eats and kept driving around aimlessly till i saw a sign for Fort Wayne, which rang a bell, so i headed that way. Got there around 6, and the place was deserted. It was really odd, and reminded me a lot of my visit to Buffalo a couple years back - the suburbs are really busy, but downtown is eerily quiet when there are no events on, which is a shame because it's a really nice downtown. I sat down at a sports bar by the baseball stadium and chatted to the waitress, who rocked my socks. She found me some tourist brochures, and i was kinda bummed i hadn't gotten there earlier because there's some kind of old fort there that would've been cool to visit. Had some dinner, then headed back for a night drive home.

Instead of taking the back roads i asked some dude filling his car at the gas station and he gave me the simple directions, which i only realized after the fact took me 50 miles out of the way. I wish i'd realized Michigan was only a couple minutes further along because i would've gone there too just to say i did, though admittedly i was getting pretty tired (it was midnight when i got home). It was great to drive on the freeways at night again; i haven't really done that since our trip to Vegas (and the spontaneous LA detour). Now i wish i had booked the car as a one-way rental. I didn't want to at first because it costs hundreds of dollars more than returning it to the same place, but man it'd be so nice to be able to just take all my gear and stop off at whatever little town piques my interest. I might call and see tomorrow, because my Amtrak leaves from St Louis on Sunday and the only way i can make it down there in time right now is to take a 9am train from Chicago, which would mean waking up at some crazy early hour Sunday. And i SO want to sleep the fuck in, because it is so needed right now.

The one downside of driving here (as opposed to in Vegas at Christmastime) is that the roads are a little busier, even the small country roads. That means i don't get to jump out and take photos of all the old farmhouses and things, so y'all will just have to imagine it. From jenndolari's experience it looks like Texas has more opportunity for that, so i'm totally looking forward to it. It was a fucking beautiful day today; when i checked the weather in Texas it looks even more beautiful. I might even wear shorts in public. (Ha!)

And now, zonked. I need a nice long sleep where i don't reflexively wake up for work. Maybe tomorrow will do it for me. No idea what i'll be up to, but i'm thinking i should call Avis at least. If i drive to St Louis i could detour through Popcorn, Indiana, which would rock.

Also, in that Target i went to, the in-store take-out joint that used to be a McDonalds or Taco Bell in California was a fucking popcorn bar. Awesome. Thinking back i should've gotten some. Maybe tomorrow.
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