After awaking from a most peaceful slumber, well me anyway (Ed always seems to have trouble sleeping), Ed and I got an early start for our last leg. This was the most important leg of the journey because it was the only one with a deadline. Mr. Ed had to be on a plane bound for Minneapolis/St. Paul at 4:30 PM and then make a connection back to the land of cheese steaks and soft pretzels, Yo Philly, PA. Now as much as Mr. Ed and I are really good friends, there was no way in Hades that I was going to let him get stuck in Omaha, NE. We returned back onto Rt. 80 and traveled at Warp Factor 3 for most of the trip. My intestinal track was now back under control so we were able to haul butt rather than yesterdays episode filled of P&G (i.e Peeing and Gas- I did all the urinating. All flatulence belonged to Ed. It was like something crawled up the poor boys buttocks and died. I thought the dashboard was going to melt.). Driving was tough because Ed was zoning out and napping most of the time, and the road was covered with fog. It was like driving in the infamous Fog Bowl between the Eagles and the Cowboys. Rt. 80 in Iowa is almost entirely straight and flat. There were only pockets of civilization and wide sprawling farmland. The one time we had to stop for gas, Ed and I had to drive seven miles out of our way. We saw tons of cattle, pigs and horses. This is also apparently Danish country (the people NOT the pastry). As we pull up to a Texaco we noticed a police car blocking the road. Apparently the town was having a Memorial Day parade and the whole town was shut down until after the parade was over. It was really cool to see that kind of pride and spirit, but it REALLY stunk for those of us who had to go the bathroom (i.e. me) and instead of using a urinal had to climb down a steep embankment in order to relieve themselves in the bushes, as well as getting mud all over my brand new (well… not anymore) sneakers. The rest of the trip into Omaha was uneventful. I checked into my room and Ed helped me unload my stuff. When we finally finished emptying it out, I was really surprised about how much junk I had lugged with me the past 1300 miles. I also cringed in horror as I realized that in 10 weeks I would have to lug it all the way back. With the help of computer aided directions I was able to get Mr. Ed to the airport without major incident and we waited in the terminal for Ed’s flight to arrive.
The airport in Omaha, NE is really small compared to the other major airports I’ve been (i.e. Philadelphia, JFK, Newark, Miami, etc.). The small size was refreshing because you couldn’t get lost, and great thing about it was that the maximum I would have to pay for parking would $6 (I ended up paying $5, but whose complaining!). While waiting for the plane to arrive, Ed and I had a nice conversation with some people from Minneapolis. We talked about how much we hated squirrels and how unfair a 1300 mile journey by car could be, especially for Ed who had only been in Omaha for about two hours and already had to leave. Their accents were neat. It was like listening to Fargo. Ed and I tried our hardest to use up the remaining film left in the disposable cameras, but Ed still had a ton left over when he went on the plane. Ed’s leaving was really anti-climatic. It was a great trip and I was really sad to realize it was over. Driving cross country is not something one should do alone. First of all, its not safe. A person could go crazy doing all that by himself. Second, there are so many really neat things that are in the U.S. of A., and its important to share it with somebody, especially if they laugh at all your jokes. I’ll be driving back with my friend Jim, whose golf clubs and books I brought out, who will be flying into Omaha late Sunday night. On the way back, we’re planning on stopping off at a few places that Ed and I couldn’t on the way out. I really think its going to be more interesting, but I doubt that it will be as much fun. Thanks, Mr. Ed. I owe you one.
Ed and I were able to get up when our wake up call came at 6:00 AM. All the water that I had drank during the night had done its trick. Unfortunately, I still had persistent problems if you catch my meaning. The room then showed its ugly side. The shower was in bad shape. First of all the hot and cold water knobs were reversed. Also anytime you used hot water outside the bathroom, the shower lost all its hot water. Now that we were fully awake we realized that there were no mattress pads or covers, only sheets. We decided to skip the continental breakfast because my stomach was still not in tip top shape. We stopped off at the local pharmacy and bought Immodium AD so that I wouldn’t have to stop on the road every thirty-six seconds. Unfortunately since I had to re-hydrate myself I had to relieve myself every thirty-nine seconds. Another difficulty was that the route we took to get to the “hotel” would not let us get back on 480 West so we had to find an alternate route. A nice and little detour that would pale in comparison to the one that would follow. We got a great jump on the day and left at 8:30 AM with TWO disposable cameras in tow so we could chronicle this momentous trek across the US. Ed and I were able to convince a very nice gas attendant at the local Sunoco to give us our 2nd camera for $8 worth of gas instead of the 8 GALLONS of gas that we actually needed to fulfill the deal. Needless to say that we have a lot of pictures left at the present moment.
Another problem that arose was the time change. Somewhere in Indiana, Ed and I went from Eastern Daylight Savings Time to Central Daylight Savings Time. However, there were no signs telling you to roll back your watch an hour, and the radio station that we were listening to never said what time it was. Not that this was a major difficulty or anything, but it was really discomforting. It was like Ed and I were stuck in some cheesy Dr. Who episode (don’t get me wrong, I love the Doctor, but it was the only comparison I could make). You never realize how important time is until your stuck grasping for it. Try not wearing your watch for a day and you’ll know what I mean.
Now for our getting lost. The trip when we started was pretty straight forward. You just take 80 West and keep on going. However, while playing a fierce installment of the Alphabet game outside of Chicago, IL, we suddenly found ourselves on the road to Wisconsin. Now while Ed and I are particularly fond of cheese, this was not the purpose of our journey. Thanks to the deftness of reading a map while extremely exhausted, brave First Class Navigator Ed plotted us the proper course back through hyper space and once again on 80 West. Then we ran smack dab into a long rain storm that lasted the through the last 200 miles or so. When we finally made it to Iowa, it could easily be said that Ed and I were pleased as punch. Then we got to the hotel. A REAL one this time. The Comfort Inn in LeClaire, IO was absolutely heaven, even in the rain. It sits directly across the Mississippi River. The room was gigantic and the beds were REALLY comfortable. We had a great recliner that easily could have doubled as a third bed. We both wanted to watch the Flyers/Devils Game 7 and so we went to the Supermarket next door and bought a freshly made pizza, soda, and snacks. The meal was great. The game was not. I even got a chance to talk to a friend in Ohio that I haven’t talked to in a couple of months. It looks to be a good nights sleep and another good jump on our last leg to Omaha.
Here’s the whole trip in a nutshell (well… five pages of a nutshell anyway).
Mr. Rob and Mr. Ed Hit the Road: Nebraska or Bust May 2000
The day started out pretty uneventful. We planned to leave at 7:00 AM so that we could miss all the traffic coming out of Philadelphia and make it pass Pittsburgh before rush hour. After departing Rob’s house at 11:45 AM (different story for a different day), Ed and I made pretty good time, mostly by breaking major laws of both physics and mechanical engineering (Average speed: 80 MPH). The weather was really nice and we had ample opportunity to enjoy it as we were stuck in two long episodes of stop and stop traffic (there ain’t no go). It took us nine hours total to get to the Econo Lodge in North Olmsted, Ohio. A nice place to stay( i.e. two beds, A/C, and a bathroom- everything a body needs). Due to the diligent Internet research of my brother Frank, we had detailed maps of where we were going and some really neat places to stop and enjoy all the local color that North Olmsted had to offer. After calling both our parents and telling them that we were alive and not in jail, we decided to eat at the local Lone Star a few minutes away. The e-mail search said that Lone Star was open until 11:00 PM, and since we got there at 10, we thought that we would have plenty of time to eat and unwind. Unfortunately fate had other plans. The hostess at the Lone Star after asking us whether we wanted to sit in smoking or non-smoking proceeded to tell us that the place had just closed. Ed and I had just traveled 485 miles. We were tired and more importantly hungry. WE WOULD NOT BE DENIED!!!!!! Right next to the Lone Star that had denied us life giving sustenance was a place of that was absolutely to quote J.J. “DY-NO-MITE!!!!” The name of the place was the Macaroni Grill. The cuisine was home-made Italian with lightning quick service. Needless to say the food was very good. The really neat thing about the Macaroni Grill was their jugs of wine. No, not bottles, but enormous, honking huge, behemothian jugs of wine (approximately 15 11 oz. glasses per jug and they gave us 11 oz. glasses to drink the wine with too). The wine works on the honor system. They charge you for one glass each and you pour as much as you want telling your waiter or waitress how many glasses of wine you’ve actually had. Pretty cool. Since Ed doesn’t really know a lot about wine, I chose a very nice Chianti, or at least what I THOUGHT was a really good Chianti (more on that later). Ed had the Chicken Marsala and I had a really tasty shrimp dish. The New England Clam Chowder was absolutely out of this world. The desert was interesting- an eggless custard. It was like eating something the consistency of Smoo, but not too bad.
Back to the wine. Ed at this point was really beat and had finished eating. He had one glass of wine and couldn’t finish the second. I offered to not waste his glass of wine in combination with the two large glasses that I had already. I know what you’re thinking. Rob drove back to the Econo Lodge totally vasnikered. UNTRUE. I went to bed feeling fine. It was only at 3:00 AM that my gastrointestinal system decided to wake me up in full rebellion. For those who know me, they know of my bathroom prowess (i.e. the mighty DM: Dumpus Maximus). However, things got so bad that a new category had to be created- DMEU: Dumpus Maximus Extremis Uncontrolabus. Thank God that I had the bed next to the bathroom. Rob’s Helpful Traveling Hint #1: Never ever have 2 and ½ 11 oz. glasses of wine and take two antacids and forget to drink a tun of water. Let the bathroom beware!!!! But that wasn’t the only bedtime adventure we had that night.
Apparently someone used the Econo Lodge for their other use (i.e wink, wink, nudge, nudge). To mask this they decided to crank out the toons that the young people will enjoy. I decided to call the front desk and they handled the matter with all due haste (only because Ed and I couldn’t find the room so we could blast the door down the Anti-tank weapon Ed packed along for those SPECIAL occasions. That’s what I love about Ed, he’s so resourceful.). I went to sleep after that with only the aforementioned problem stated above. However for Ed, the fun just kept on going. Ed had to deal with my snoring (i.e only second to my brother, Frank, who now has a machine to help him breath at night because he snores so bad) and the ‘happy couple’ who decided to watch TV at O Dark 30. Fortunately the A/C kicked in and Ed was able to kick the bed until I stopped snoring. Hopefully that is the worst that will happen to us on our trip