Saturday, May 3, 2008
Stephanie and I are about to ask the hotel concierge how to find a few sites from my list, when we overhear him telling some senior citizens about a boat tour of the skyscrapers lining the Chicago River. Chicago was the birthplace of the modern skyscraper, back when that word meant a building of ten stories. We’ll soon hear this point of Chicago pride repeated several times by our river guide: “We did it first”…“We did it here first”… “The technology was available, but we were the first to use it.”
We’ve chosen the worst day to sit outside on the open deck of a tour boat for an hour and a half.
We’ve chosen the worst day to sit outside on the open deck of a tour boat for an hour and a half. A freezing wind worthy of an Alaskan winter prevails, until soon my body aches with cold. Steph tells me she had a relative who used to say, “There’s no such thing as inclement weather, only inadequate clothing.” And I’m wearing it. Each time the wind penetrates the light spring fleece and windbreaker I brought for my idea of a chilly spring day, I mouth the word “F- – -” to Steph. By the end of the tour, even our guide, a Chicagoan, is shivering visibly, and her voice is shaking.
Friday, May 2, 2008
My first full day in Chicago starts with gray rain and a cold shower, but I won’t let it color my mood. The Whitehall Hotel’s boiler is on the fritz, so the front desk comps our breakfast while Steph waits for hot water. We order our meal brought up, so my friend won’t have to dress, go downstairs to eat, come back up to shower, and dress again. Steph refuses to consider a cold shower. She says it would run contrary to her life’s theme: “Me, me, me!” I laugh, but also worry she might be telling the truth. I fail to notice my own smugness about my life’s theme of “low-maintenance.” I see only what I fear to see.
The spring rain kills our plans for a walking tour.
We relax over an om-nom-nom breakfast of cholesterol and fat: hot tea with cream, buttered toast, eggs over-medium, fried potatoes, and OJ. We don’t leave until 11:00 a.m., and the spring rain kills our plans for a walking tour. This Route 66 Trip is a tongue-in-cheek homage to kitschy Americana, cheap nostalgia, and the road less traveled. We make no pretensions to Kerouac hipness, instead heading for geek nirvana: the Museum of Holography.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Stephanie has never cut out on her husband for two weeks before. My husband told me, “It’s okay, I’m getting used to it.” I recently returned from a three-week book-research trip to China, stayed home for two weeks, then split again today to start this road trip down Route 66. I already miss Dale, but this rare chance to hang with my longest-time girlfriend promises to be like crazy, man!
Stephanie and I met thirty years ago at Downey High.
Steph and I met thirty years ago at Downey High, in the sleepy Los Angeles suburbs, and we became tight friends. Though our lives have moved in different directions, it always feels comfortable to pick up our friendship again, like throwing on my favorite old leather jacket. It’s a relationship full of embarrassing confessions, unsolicited advice, and no-respect wisecracks, between two former non-joiners who joined each other. What better duo to share a time-machine trip down America’s Blast-from-the-Past Highway, Route 66, a.k.a. The Mother Road? I’ve dubbed this journey “Steph’s and Cara’s Mother F—ing Road Trip”:
What better duo to share a time-machine trip down America’s Blast-from-the-Past Highway, Route 66, a.k.a. The Mother Road?