This week's Spin Cycle is on Car trips. I had a story about a car trip I took in college, but didn't get round to writing it… so I decided to spin up an old post instead:
Last weekend we went on our annual camping trip to O'Connell's Campground out in Amboy Illinois. My wife has been going there for at least 28 years– as I have only been going for the past 12. One would think that getting there should be a "no brainer" by now… but perhaps it is the fact that everything is changing all the time that makes getting there half the fun.
I always say "every trip is an adventure", and this one is no exception. It always seems that someone winds up getting lost when we go out there, and this year it was our turn. Much like the year when Matt missed 88 and wound up on 290 going into downtown, and Tiffany missed 39 and didn't realize that she missed it until nearly in Iowa– we missed 294.
While in the left hand lane on 90 heading for the exit onto 294, we saw the sign for the toll. Of course there was plaza construction going on to add new I-pass lanes to "ease congestion", so everything was unfamiliar to us. Blame it on my being an honest citizen– but I was so focused on getting in the manual lanes to make sure we could pay the toll properly, I proceeded to cross about 4 lanes to get there. I still don't know if the exit was before or after the toll, but we didn't suspect that we missed the exit until we saw Ikea. By the time we finally realized we missed the exit, we had to figure out how to turn around.
Being in the left hand lane to make the 294 exit, we had to ease over to the right. I missed one exit arguing about things and searching desperately for the change purse to pay the exit toll… but we finally exited on Barrington Road and pulled over at the Hilton Garden Inn to get our bearings. We were still hunting for the change purse when we pulled over and thought we had better call… but now we couldn't find the cell phone either. We had to pull out all the bags from the car and empty them to search the car and bags for both the change purse and the cell phone– both of which we knew was in the car when we left.
After finding our misplaced items, we got a call from Matt wondering where we were. We explained our situation, but still needed to verify that we can get back on 90, and if they wanted to still wait for us at the O'hare oasis. They said they didn't mind waiting, so we decided to park over by the gift-shop to ask for directions and take a bathroom break. We wondered why some passers-by were laughing at us until we noticed that two of our bags were still on the roof of the car.
Nobody was available in the gift shop to ask, and it appeared that there wasn't a bathroom in site. Luckily a few people came through what I thought was a back room to the gift shop… so I told Sara that the bathroom was probably through there, and she could go while I waited for the sales person to become available.
Sara came back and looked lost, so I figured I would accompany her and maybe ask someone in the restaurant instead. We went through the door, up a few stairs, and was at the bar for the restaurant. The bartender also appeared busy, so we went to the right, down a few stairs and looked around for a bathroom– nothing. We saw a small door and went through that and looked around and finally saw the bathrooms. "This reminds me of one of those nightmares", Sara told me "where you get further and further away from where you want to go." This seemed even more evident when we tried to leave the parking lot and could not go out the way we got in– but rather had to go to a frontage road and exit that way.
We finally met up with the rest of the caravan at the oasis and grabbed a bite to eat before we all left to head out on 88. We all made it on to 88, but got tied up in more construction which started at the toll and continued through past 30. It must have taken us an hour to go through the toll, which normally would only take about five minutes to go through. There were only three manual lanes, which narrowed down to one after the toll before merging with the automatic lanes.
After the construction it was all smooth sailing the rest of the way. It did rain a bit while we were traveling, but stopped long before we got to the campsite and had to set up our tents. We were originally glad that we left early… at least early as compared to other years. But, after adding up all the delays– with our being lost, as well as the construction on 88– we actually made it to the campsite just after the cutoff for early check in at 4:00. This meant that we did not have to pay the extra fee for checking in early… something we would have had to do if we were not delayed.
So, even though we all seemed to have an adventure getting to our campsite at Green G, the rest of the weekend was picture perfect.