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“But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?”

 

 

After our first day on the road that was filled with more the energy of eager anticipation than pretty sights, we woke up to a crowded RV park at the KOA outside of Cuyahoga Falls.

 

 

After morning instant coffee on our RV stovetop, we drove out at 8am this morning for a 20 minute stroll to see Brandywine Falls inside Cuyahoga Valley National Forest.

 

 

Then after another pitstop at a local Panera’s and filling up on gas, we set off for a 5 hour drive across Indiana to Chicago.

 

 

Ohio’s mask game has been pretty robust as of late:

 

 

Despite a minor annoyance on the road where the rubber liner on the driver’s side ripped off like a streamer (which Road Bear’s customer service advised us to cut off with scissors), we finally reached Chicago by 4:45pm.

The goal was to meet up with my local close friend Norman, who had showed us around Chicago 5 years ago back in 2015:

 

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2015: Norman second from the right.

 

He would not fail us today in 2020: Brotherhoods do last.

 

2020 Norman

 

Even better, our monsooner guide Melissa Weinmann, whom we last saw when she led us around Vanuatu (and sadly had to cut her Peace Corps tour short due to COVID-19) also stopped in to shepherd us around her native Chicago. And by the way: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELISSA!

 

 

Once getting into Chicago proper, we decided to leave the RV at my friend Norman’s high school parking lot so we didn’t have to navigate through the city’s narrower streets; both Melissa and Norman then drove us over in their respective vehicles for an early outdoor dinner/dunch at Mott St.

 

 

Due to COVID-19, there currently is a cap at 6 people for group dining in the state of Illinois, so we had to split our group into 2.

 

 

That didn’t stop us from eating the entire menu here:

 

 

Afterwards, we waited on a quickly moving line for Mario’s Italian Ices:

 

 

After stopping outside of Norman’s alma mater at UIC to quickly finish our desserts . . .

 

 

. . . we drove into downtown Chicago for the obligatory and gorgeous skyline shots from Museum Campus:

 

 

Gotta pee? Nature calling? No problem. Nothing’s stopping Brynn!

 

 

Then before dropping us off back at our RV, Norman took us into the underground tunnels of Lower Wacker as this was where they shot the infamous Batpod vs. Joker scene from The Dark Knight:

 

Looks familiar?

 

With that, we said our goodbyes to Norman and Melissa back at our RV at 8pm and continued onwards towards Madison, Wisconsin.

I’m familiar with this part of this journey: Norman had taken me on this route before back in April 2015 to attend a conference where I facilitated a workshop on none other than traveling.

 

 

I’m glad I stick to some habits.

So upon our arrival in the vicinity of Madison at 10:30pm, we settled in at the Madison KOA Holiday and met up with #6 of our crew who was already waiting for us: local Wisconsin-ite Daniel Reesman, whom we had last seen when he traveled with us early last year to Prague and Budapest.

 

 

Tomorrow we push forward into South Dakota!

 

 

- At time of posting in Madison, WI, it was 22 °C - Humidity: 91% | Wind Speed: 13km/hr | Cloud Cover: scattered thunderstorms