Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday Thirteen: Random Thoughts from my Trip

  1. I grew up in Florida, and lived in Georgia for a long time, and both of those states have beer and wine at the grocery store, and liquor at the liquor store. Now I live in Tennessee, where you can buy beer at the grocery store or the "beer and tobacco" store, and wine and liquor at the liquor store. But in Illinois, you can buy beer, liquor, and wine just about ANYWHERE. Drug stores! Gas stations! Interestingly, the pricier liquors have electronic caps to protect them from theft. So weird.
  2. Drivers in Chicago are insanely aggressive. I mean, by the time I left I'd sort of gotten the hang of it, but wow! They will cut you off, keep you from merging, whip around you... and then they'll stop, in the middle of the road, and open all the doors to their cars. Then, while you are stuck behind some nutty person with all their car doors open, the aggressive people behind you will come around you and squeeze through the narrow space on the wrong side of the road, to get around the open-doored car. They manage it, too! 
  3. I love big cities. I came to this realization when I was in Chicago. For lack of a better, less cliched term, I just really love the energy of a big city. I love the buildings, I love the crowds, I love the wide variety of things to do, I love driving around, even when the other drivers are trying to kill me.
  4. I have a weird but persistent yearning to go everywhere and see everything. I even want to see things I've already seen. Right now, though, I'm a little bit obsessed with the idea of Mount Rushmore. Must. See. Mount. Rushmore.It's a 21 hour drive, though, so I'm not sure when that's going to happen.
  5. On that note, however, I am pretty much a badass when it comes to road trips. Last night, for instance, I drove all night, arriving home at 6am. Sure, I was having some minor hallucinations by the time it was all over, I'm not sure I should ever drink any more coffee, and I could write a guide on gas station restrooms between St. Louis and Nashville, but I did it.
  6. Smaller children, in my experience, are more interested in seeing new things. Teenagers, not so much.
  7. Parking at Navy Pier in Chicago is $25. Parking at Gateway Arch in St Louis is $9. Why the big disparity? The Arch is a National Park. Solution? Government takeover of all parking garages! Whee! (My Republican friends are hissing and spitting at me right now, maybe.)
  8. Gas prices are wildly disparate across the country. In most of Illinois, it is a fifty cents more per gallon than it is Tennessee. In Chicago, it is over a dollar more! What's that about? I'm wondering if it has anything to do with proximity to the Gulf coast? Probably not.
  9. In Illinois I ate something called "farmer's cheese". I have never heard of this. I speculated that it is a Midwestern thing, maybe, and was assured that I can get it in the South, I just have to ask for it. But how would one know to ask for it, when one has never heard of it? Have any of you heard of farmer's cheese? Is it regional?
  10. Indiana is boring. I apologize if I'm hurting anyone's feelings by saying this, but I can't help it because it's super true. Or maybe it's just driving through Indiana that's boring? Thoughts, anyone?
  11. Much of the country has a lower speed limit than I'm used to driving. I did not know that. I am typically not a speeder, but I was sort of a speeder this week, because I was consistently surprised by the lower limits.
  12. Another Chicago observation: Chicago has a heaping ton of cool restaurant, yet they also have places like Chili's and Applebee's. How on EARTH do those mediocre chains survive in towns with plentiful and excellent restaurants?
  13. Australia has many American chains, but not Outback. When we told our Australian friend that Outback has a dish called "Alice Springs Chicken", she pronounced that item "random". I guess I hadn't thought about it.
Speaking of random, I think I'm done with this list!

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