A friend in need is a friend indeed…and if you get a great road trip out of it as well, that is a bonus.
My friend Kristen Studard (K-Stud to her friends and anyone else she can persuade to call her that) told me some months ago that she was going to pack up her life in Chicago, stuff it all into her car and move across the country. Apparently the cold winters had taken their toll on her and she needed a taste of the Southern California climate to stop her going insane for four months out of every year.
However, recently it transpired that, in a major change to her plans, she would have to drive the 2000 miles on her own. Never one to pass up an adventure and always keen to help out a friend, I volunteered to share the driving and head out west with her.
This is what happened!
Monday 4th Feb 2013
Day 1 – Chicago to Springfield, MO
10.5 hours – 500 Miles – 2 States IL+MO
Kristen and I met a few days ago to plan out our route. We had intended to leave tomorrow but (as has happened to me once before) after looking at the map and realising just how big this country is we brought forward our departure to today.
I have been staying with my friend and all round good bloke, Bobby Minelli and was ready and waiting at his apartment when Kristen arrived at 9am this morning to pick me up. It is at this point that I would like to advice readers against embarking upon a road trip of this magnitude the morning after the Superbowl. It was a huge relief that Kristen drove the first few hours.
After a stop just outside of Chicago at Kristen’s family home it was time to hit the road. And there was a lot of it ahead. Fortunately our taste in listening material is very similar. Today was spent mostly listening to podcasts and radio plays from the BBC and NPR. Tomorrow the excitement begins when we crack out the audiobooks!!
The good thing about heading south from Chicago in the winter is that before long, it starts to get warmer. It was not long until the snow and grey clouds gave way to blue skies and open fields. The corn fields which make this part of the midwest famous are pretty much barren and brown at the moment but I have always enjoyed seeing that as much as the full grown green crop. It looks kind of like another planet…if that’s what they look like.
A few hours in, our attention was drawn to a giant pink elephant at the side of the road. Seeing as this is not something one ordinarily sees, further investigation was necessary. Upon close inspection we came came across Pink Elephant Antiques Mall. It not only had a giant pink elephant in the front, but and abandoned space ship (I don’t think it was real), a giant cupcake and tricycle and a plastic statue of a man I can only assume was Paul Bunyan wearing a Harley Davidson t-shirt, although somebody had stolen his axe.
Inside the mall we found the largest collection of antiques I have ever seen. They sold everything from guns to hat pins. I bought an antique Valentines Day card (the recipient of which will remain anonymous), dragged Kristen away from the guns (LA is dangerous don’t you know) and we hit the road.
We arrived in Springfield, Missouri and could not have been more pleased with what we found. First of all, we were met by the lovely Andrea, the host of our AirBnb accommodation for the night. She showed us around our lovely apartment and she and her boyfriend Anthony directed us to a place to eat, Grad School, which was excellent.
Driving around Springfield felt like we had found a secret ‘cool’ zone that nobody else knew about. The downtown area is peppered with independent coffee shops, boutiques, thrift stores, restaurants and cafes. If we had enough time we both agreed that we would like to stick around in the morning and explore but unfortunately we have to be on the road by 6am. Therefore, I am going to bed!