Christmas Trip

Updated December 27, 2007, 11:57 CST. Location: Chicagoland (taking Christmas week off from work)

December 27

7:19, woke up to an overcast sky. On the bright side, at least I was killed by a suicide attack like Benazir Bhutto.

After Burr Ridge and Willowbrook went a little out of way to do four reshoots, and Montgomery. On US-30 near Montgomery passed Enzo Spa, and a therapist, coincidentally enough from the Texas valley, was available immediately, so I prepared for 1000 miles of hard driving with an excellent massage. 7"55 777 miles

December 26

7:42, and I was pleased to see that the day looked to be sunny again.

Finally had a chance to catch up with the Queen Bee, in downtown Appleton. The sign advertised home cooking, but the menu lacked the dishes I would consider real home cooking--burgers and salads won't cut it. But they were still serving breakfast, and the pancakes were pretty good.

Bah! I ended up deeming the last three photos I took Christmas Day unworthy of keeping, bringing my total back down to 52.


Bah! 2 hour parking limit at the Hinsdale oass, so I had to push on towards Burr Ridge and then drive a good number of miles away before I found suitable parking at the Jewel Osco.

December 25

7:24, no sun visible, but the sky was light so time to get up. 7 minutes to change and degroggify, and I was off. But which direction? Didn't want to go downtown because the sun needed to be high in the sky for light to get to the buildings. Back to Irving Park & Kostner, then, and I was surprised to find it open. Was able to wash up and get some juice and a banana (still only available in the Chicago market and nearby). But in that time span, stupid monkey fuckers started parking in front of the store, in illegal spots. One even parked right behind me instead of a few cars ahead where it was legal, totally ruining any shot. He put his hazard lights on, so I expected the @#$%^ to leave quickly, but why wasn't he leaving??? He was reading the paper!!! a 8:28 by the time I left, waaaay to much time wasted!!!

On Wilson, a smaller side street in Albany Park, I was surprised to see all the cars parked with their tires on the curb. Is this enforced, or is this just a convention that everybody follows.

On the bright side, the more powerful zoom lens on the D80 was nice. From across the intersection I was able to get a much more closer framing than with the D50. Also, the larger LCD screen made it easier to determine which shots I should discard.

AARRGHH!!! North Mayfair-Lawrence & Pulaski open with cars parked!!! It's Christmas y'all!!! Stay the fuck home and celebrate!!!

Meanwhile , the sun was coming out strong. Excellent! If these stores would just stay closed!

A fucking ambulance in front of Sauganash??? AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!! DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE !!!

Lincolnwood Produce open--excellent.

In Park Ridge, a car pulled away from one of the old bank drive-thru spaces a few seconds too late, and an SUV pulled in. The driver kindly moved when I asked, but then another SUV pulled in, and this time, the driver, with two young daughters in tow, just ignored me. I shouted "Merry Christmas", and the daughters, oblivious to the father's indifference, replied in kind. Poor girls, and poor society, that they are being raised by such an inconsiderate father.

11:17, only 12 stores in nearly three hours--moving much too slow to hit 50 stores.

1:03, 21 stores, time to rush downtown while the sun is high.

Aw, yeah! Lovin' the new zoom lens--allowed me to get a nice shot of the AT&T Building store.

Sweet view.

Finally had to call it a night around 4:30, after 54 stores The most I'd ever done, but I could have done more if I had headed downtown sooner. Chicago will definitely be worth another Christmas Day. Note that I only drove 70 miles, instead of the 200 miles I drove in Phoenix to visit 47 stores.

Of the 55 stores I got to, 14 were open for business. Not sure if that was a greater % than Phoenix, in part because about 30 of the stores I visited were in or around the Loop, and those were more likely to be closed.

Find some decent angel hair pasta at one of the few restaurants open, Marcello's. Expensive, though! $8.95 just for the pasta and sauce + extra for the sausage made the total over $13.00. But since I had not had a proper lunch, I was able to finish most of it. Debated for quite a while over what to do, and I finally decided to go ahead and head up to Wisconsin. 10:00 PM by the time I reached the rest area across the state line, and despite the DoubleShot I was feeling tired so I slept.

December 24

5:45, I moved from the Wal-Mart to the Starbucks parking lot. The store did not look open.

7:41, sky still not light. I went into the store for a juice (and to kiwi) and then back out. I hoped for just 30 minutes more, so I down the sample coffee I had saved. I don't think I fell asleep, and around 8:05 I went ahead and took a photo of the store. Checked my mail and bought a donut to let it get a little more light out, then took, another, but really with the sky overcast I wasn't going to get a decent shot.

As I headed towards Indiana I passed a Best Buy and decided to stop and see if they had the D80 that I had been wanting to buy. Even though my dropped D50 was working, the lens would fall with any bump, and I feared it would fall and break completely. Or that the focus would fail, because I had to hold the lens in a specific positon for it to work. I did not want to risk losing out on Christmas Day photos, so I bit the bullet and paid that heffty $1218 price tag for the camera. Ouch.

New store in Valparaiso, not far from the Valparaiso Motel where Jodi and I spent a night once. As much as I try to forget her, there are all these things in the Midwest to remind me (like the entire state of Illinois).

As I headed north towards Wisconsin I finished calling stores and learned none of them would be open past 6:00. So I changed my plans and decided to head west from Kenosha towards Beloit and Rockford. If I moved quickly enough I could hit three final stores before they closed.

In Rockford I was intrigued by the supervisors tale of kids playing some type of prank by repeatly coming into the store claiming to be visiting them all and asking for a sample. She said because of that they weren't supposed to give them out, but since it was Christmas it was okay. Strange.

Wasn't going to reach Belvedere in time, so I called ahead and the supervisor had no problem leaving a DoubleShot out for me. In fact, when I arrived to slip the money under the door, he asked me to go around the drive thru because the other partners wanted to meet me. One had even seen me un Unwrapped.

Wow, that truck running light could have killed me. If I had not hesitated a second before turning left when the light turn green, my litle Fit would be toast.

I sped east on I-90 hoping to reach Hoffman Estates by 7:00 or to persuade the barista to leave coffee out for me, but when I called I learned they had closed at 6:00. Not a big deal. I'd just have to pick it up on Wednesday along with several others. Plus, I was able to slow down and make some Christmas Eve family calls.

Despite having had a Jimmy John's for lunch and a Potbelly around 4:00, I was still hungry. Since I didn't know how much luck I'd have finding food on Christmas Day, I went for the Golden Nugget. The chicken noodle soup was halfway decent, but the spaghetti---oh, heavens, talk about bad. Definitely top five worst spaghetti's I've ever had.

Worst dream ever. I parked in a bad neighborhood and returned to find my car stripped.

December 23

7:22, it was still dark out. Wow. Just as well though, because I needed more sleep.

8:45, I could see light, and though I wanted more sleep I could not waste the precious sunlight. While the nighttime rain had convinced me that my Michigan photos would be blah, the day turned out to be quite pretty and sunny.

Lukich, waffle

Hunt for LaSalle

Downtown Cafe

Oh my heavens, it's soooo much colder here in Lansing than it was this morning outside Detroit. They say snow's a-coming, at the E. Lansing store. I checked the weather and saw reports of up to 5 inches. Well, that did it--had to change my plans to try head away from the weather. No upper peninsula for me. So from E. Lansing I headed to Greenville first, and as I neared the city the roads started to get snowy.

AARRGHH!!! DROPPED MY CAMERA!!! The snow was partly to blame. I forgot to put the strap around my neck, and I just held the camera inside my jacket as I waited for a car to move. Then I shifted my arms, and the camera felt to the ground. Thankfully, it seemed okay. Perhaps the snow blunted the force of the fall.

AARRGHH!!! Walker, Alpine & Coventry, closed for out of power!!! At least the Grandville store was open, and so were the stores in Kalamazoo. In fact, Kalamazoo reported no snow, just wind, so I decided to ignore my hunger and try to get down there as fast as possible to beat the snow. I managed to do so, but by the time I found a place to eat, Bimbo's Pizza, and waited for a pizza, it was snowing. By the time I reached Gull & Sprinkle the snow was coming down, and I decided I might as well stay the night. Quite conveniently there was a Wal-Mart just down the street because upon entering Kalamazoo I saw a sign prohibiting parking from 2-6 AM on city streets.

December 22

After Scrabble I was glad not to have head back to PA for work, and I had dinner with some players instead of rushing off. I could have visit the three remaining new Detroit area stores and headed towards Flint, but I it made more sense to catch up on sleep and wait for the sun to rise.

I didn't expect to find a massage that late, but I checked CL anyway and, to my surprise, found a therapist working that late, 9:00 PM, and nearby, Royal Oak, and with a shower available. The water wasn't quite hot enough, but tolerable. Afterwards I found a very interesting parking space of Fourth Street, in front of a house or building under construction or remodeling. The windows were covered with plastic, and the effect of this was that in the strong night wind I heard a flapping sound all night long.

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