Fear and Loathing in Milwaukee

It felt so good to get out of town last week. My spirit has been itching to roam free for some time since I didn’t get to go anywhere over Spring Break. This was the longest I’ve ever driven by myself. I’ve been on longer road trips but I’ve only been a passenger. The furthest I’ve driven on my own is Grand Rapids, about a 2 hour drive away. Now I agreed that nothing that happened at the signing would be broadcasted*, so in the spirit of secrecy I will instead regail you with my tails from the road.

*For the record, it was much more low key than one would have expected with Ken Bruen, Jason Starr, and Reed Coleman in the same room. Noone ending up hanging from anything and all clothes stayed on.

I started the trip along I-94 from the Meijer grocery store parking lot after cashing in the change from my change boot and using it to buy lunch at McDonalds. I had the first disc of The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughn on the cd player and all was good. I clipped along nicely and was out of Michigan in about 3 hours. The trip went through four states, yet I spent most of the drive just getting out of my own freaking state. Gas prices were ridiculous and while riding on fumes and faith I passed three gas stations before deciding the very last gas station in Michigan was the best deal at $2.19.

Three exits later in Indiana I saw a sign for $1.99 D’oh.

Indiana wasn’t bad at first; it was actually kind of boring. I had moved from Stevie Ray Vaughn to listening to the radio and was bouncing between country and easy listening. It must be the southern truck driver blood in my family but I LOVE listening to country music while I travel. As I wound my way through the Hoosier state I saw a sign for Gary, Indiana. A friend of mine was directing the orchestra for a high school production of The Music Man so I thought it would be fun to get her a souvenier from Gary, Indiana…my home sthweet home. Well apparently the apacolypse is already under way and it began in Gary, Indiana. I’ve been in some nasty parts of Detroit with bombed out buildings and shady looking characters and that general feeling of imminent danger but this…this was like the set from RoboCop. After getting off the expressway, I quickly deduced I wasn’t in Kansas any more and sped through three lights and got right back on.

It didn’t get any prettier from there. Now I’ve never been to Chicago. I live four hours away, and I’ve been to New York City and London but never Chicago. I’ve been in the Chicago area several times but something always happened where I couldn’t make it into the city though from the pictures I’ve seen it’s always looked like a pretty city. I knew it had a gritty side, I’ve seen “Save the Last Dance,” but coming up through the back by way of Michigan and Indiana it looked like the devil had bent over and built a city between his butt cheeks. By the time I made it to the downtown area my opinion had changed and I almost cause several accidents while trying to take pictures of the skyline from my car.

As I moved out of the city and into the suburbs it was a snow covered fairy land. The buildings were older and more battered than I would have imagined in suburban Chicago but there were plenty of big ‘ole McMansions too. I passed under the Lake Forest Oasis and almost stopped to see if someone special was there but ultimately passed because I hate stopping. I risked starvation and bladder infection to avoid stops after the ill-fated Gary expeditions so this didn’t pass muster.

Five and a half hours after I left, I pulled up to a warehouse in Milwaukee and parked next to the ugliest truck I’ve ever seen. I was led upstairs to casa de Jordan and after racing Jason Starr to the sandwich fixings I ate and the party was on…