|Fun at the service plaza|
I have never liked driving in big cities, and living in Sitka just reinforced this, so heading towards Chicago and then Boston was not a pleasant idea. We toyed with the idea of going up to Duluth, across northern Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan, and then heading down and around the remaining great lakes just to avoid Chicago. The weather forecast didn't look great for this area so we chose the more normal interstate route, and it was lucky we did. The day after we left the Twin Cities they received 30+ inches of snow in and around Duluth. We did not get out unscathed, as there was some residual weather further south and we ended up driving through snow and ice in central Wisconsin. In a very un-Minnesotan move, as the driving conditions deteriorated I took the exit for Wisconsin Dells and found a motel.
This was going to be a big change in our travels for this portion of the trip. Because we had to drain the tanks and winterize the van in MN, we no longer had running water for washing, cooking or the toilet. Up until now we had cooked most of our meals in the van and spent most of our nights in rest areas and truck stops to keep our travel expenses down. We could still sleep in the van but cooking was problematic and the lack of a toilet was a real issue, so we would try to stay in the van when possible but planned on more nights in motels.
|Breakfast in bed|
Just before this happened we were skirting Chicago and smack in the middle of one of my biggest pet-peeves of this drive: toll roads. The fact that they call these interstates which should mean that they are maintained with my tax dollars, and then charge me to use them annoys me quite a bit. Add to that the fact that they are some of the worst maintained roads in the country, or that they have stupid regulations like the fact that I pay more than a car in NY because my van is over seven feet high(?) and I go beyond annoyed and head towards being pissed.
At this point winter storm Cleon was rapidly catching up with us and we kept an extra eye on the weather reports at the service plaza. Somehow the snow and ice missed us again that night, but the next morning it was expected to pass through Pennsylvania, right across our route on I-80. We changed our plans and headed north when I-90 split off heading towards New York, stopping for the night at a motel in Rochester. We lucked out here as well with Buffalo NY getting a foot of snow just after we passed through.