Thursday, August 3, 2006
On our recent “flying” trip to Chicago, I fell in love with parts of that city (and state).
However, there were parts that weren’t quite perfect!
Traffic, for example. I’ve driven in Atlanta, Dallas and of course, Memphis. Traffic is not one of my favorite things, but I’ve never really minded anything except maybe the worst traffic jams.
Chicago is one big extended “worst” traffic jam!
When we first arrived in Chicago last Friday (right around 4 p.m. and rush hour, of course), we weren’t surprised at the horrible mess of traffic. It was quite a surprise to me to glance at my fuel gauge and notice that I was so out of gas that my light was on and the red line was below empty.
Fortunately, we were at an exit and pulled off right into a gas station — where I had my second major shock. Gas in Chicago (and I use the 87 octane) was $3.49 a gallon! The highest octane was $3.65 a gallon! And I saw signs at gas stations where it was higher!
We didn’t have a “detailed” map of Chicago streets, just general, hitting the main streets; so after we pulled out of the gas station, we were almost immediately lost. Or, as my daughter’s friend who met us in Chicago said, “We took the scenic route.”
I couldn’t believe my friend Jane wasn’t with us! I’ve never been this lost without her before. I attempted to call her while lost in parts of Chicago that were apparently unknown to the general population, but my daughter had a fit and insisted I pay attention to traffic instead of playing on the phone!
That city is such a mixture of cultures and styles. We drove for miles through what was mostly a Latino area — all the billboards, stores, etc. had Spanish as the main language and only a few had an English translation.
Then, almost as if we’d crossed a line, the neighborhoods became European — Greek, Italian, etc.
The diversity was wonderful. And the brief time I was there, I got the impression that it was a harmonious blend.
It is very different in the North though! If you stop at a rest stop on the Interstate in the South, and ask for a map or directions, you get all the information you want plus lots and lots of additional info. and questions — where are y’all headed? what are you going to do there? can I help you plan your trip in any way? where’re you from? who’s your mama and how is the family? — you know, the usual Southern style of hospitality and friendliness.
It’s not quite the same in the North. We stopped at a rest stop just outside Chicago and I asked for a map and got one — just a map. No questions or suggestions. It was like that everywhere. Strange and weird. Folks were nice, but not “Southern nice.”
Next week — the Field Museum!
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