Coronacation – Midwest Style

I have often been accused of turning a sour situation into a spontaneous adventure. I’ve also been accused of being a bit of an opportunist. So when I found out my step daughter was going to spend three weeks in Chicago and needed a ride, I jumped on the opportunity to turn it into a road trip!

Traveling during COVID is not for the faint of heart. I am a bit of a germaphobe and absolutely terrified of getting sick. When I think about it, I get this glimpse of me laying in a hospital bed on a ventilator dying alone. Terrible imagery, right?

As you read in the last post, I’m a big believer in face masks, so I packed all of my favorite masks, my HEMPZ Hand Sanitizer and headed north. We left our home around 5 am and made a quick stop in Columbus for breakfast. I have been low-carbing since Memorial Day, so I had to figure out how to travel and eat. I opted for the Egg White Grilled Chicken Sandwich. I tossed the bun and ate the chicken and egg part. It was blech. I don’t recommend it (from Chick-fil-A.) After breakast, we zoomed through Chattanooga, Nashville, and stopped in Louisville, Kentucky around 1 pm. My friend, Kristy, suggested we eat a place her fiance grew up going to.

We stopped at Rumors Restaurant in Louisville. I ordered wings and Tim ordered shrimp. We both agreed, it was absolutely delicious. Honestly, some of the best wings I have eaten to date!

To be safe, we chose to sit outside in the blistering heat to avoid the restaurant. Luckily, there were fans blowing on us and plenty of hand sanitizer all around the restaurant. The wait staff were even masked up.

After lunch, we had a nice long, 5-hour drive through the state of Indiana. We arrived in Lockport, Illinois (a South suburb of Chicago) around 7pm. I had some friends that live about half an hour South of Chicago, and one of them had an adorable art shop in the charming town of Lockport. She talked to her landlord, and they agreed to let us stay in the apartment above the shop for free! So for the next two nights, we were living in downtown Lockport. My friend Leanne and her husband Phil, took us to dinner at a little restaurant across the street from our apartment called The Stagecoach. It had this western theme and had a super interesting menu: everything from rattle snake to rabbit!

On Friday morning, we got up and ate a local diner in Lockport then headed to downtown Chicago! The drive down was really easy and we made a point to get Google maps to avoid toll roads. Maybe it added 15 extra minutes, but boy oh boy, did it save us a little money. We weren’t really sure where to go and what to do, because the trip was just to drop Alex off. I had watched a few videos on You Tube about the sites, but with the pandemic, I knew so many places would be closed and to be perfectly honest, if they were open, I would not be interested in going into them. So we made our way to Navy Pier.

Face masks were required in Chicago and the pier is mainly outside, so we felt very relaxed exploring the skyline and the small mall they had there. I finally got to see Lake Michigan, which, for the record, was very clear! We debated taking a boat ride, and instead opted for a coffee and did a little souvenir shopping. After our adventure, we drove through some of the streets of downtown and made our way to Jody’s for an authentic Chicago dog.

This was a quintessential locals place. As you know, I’m low-carbing, so I tossed the bun!

A chicago dog is very interesting. It has tomato, pickles, relish, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and mustard on it. Don’t ask for ketchup, whatever you do!

After lunch we headed back to the apartment to rest and refresh before we went to a BBQ at my friend Leanne’s home in Joliet.

We had such a great time! I just adore Leanne & Peggy! We finally got to hang out on Leanne’s home and see all of the photos she has posted for years come to life. If you have been following me since the beginning – Leanne, Peggy & I became blog buddies way back around 2006 or so. Just last year, we finally all met in person in Plains. And now, I have been to see them! I finally got to meet the husbands and the kids. I got to see first hand Leanne’s majestic sunflowers and taste her delicious margaritas. Phil is such an amazing grill master! We had such an awesome time. We laughed and talked from 4:30 pm until about 10 pm!

It did my heart so much good to spend time with my dear, dear friends.

The next morning, we popped down to the art shoppe for a little shopping and a goodbye. I hated leaving. We felt so loved and cared for while there. Leanne, Peggy and their clan are good eggs and I am better for knowing them.

We stopped for breakfast at this place called George’s and then headed Southeastward to Southern Indiana. Our next stop: Vincennes, Indiana. This is where my dad is from. We ended up staying at the Hampton Inn. I have to say, the process for check-in was seamless. There were 2 six foot tables blocking you from getting too close to the counter. Most people were masked, and our room had a Lysol seal on the door, which means no one had entered the room since the cleaning.

We met up with my cousins and toured all of the important sites from my father’s childhood and my childhood Summers. We visited a national historic site, had lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, and viewed the river walk at the Wabash River.

We made our way over to Monroe City to see where my Grandma Thurston lived. The house above is where we would spend most of our Julys.

We had such a great time getting to know my cousins a little better. Chris (the dad in the pic above) is just a few years younger than I. His mother and my dad are brother & sister. After our time in Vincennes, we got up on Sunday morning and drove straight to Nashville, TN to see my friends Stacey & Jonathon. We had lunch at the new home!

It was good to catch up with old friends that had moved from Macon, also.

After a nice long, 14 hour trek up and 12.5 hour trek back, we made it home, safe and sound. Covid free & Carb free!

It was completely possible to safely travel during the pandemic. Would I recommend it for people elderly or with a compromised system? Absolutely not. We took precautions, we took as few risks as possible, but even with all of that, it was still rolling the dice. I’m pleased to say we made it through and I am glad we did! How are you traveling during the pandemic?

Author:

Tourism Director * Freelance Writer * Southern * Catholic * Crazy Cat Lady * Wonder Women * Coffee Addict * Traveler * Voracious Reader * Cultural Junkie * *GSD Mom*

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