United States: Burke, Virginia

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States


And the end of a 386 Day Round-the-World-Trip

So the grand plan was to drive to York, Pennsylvania to visit the Harley Davidson Assembly Plant.  (The one we went to the other day was the Powertrain Factory where only engines were assembled.)  Unfortunately, a call to the factory revealed that the production line was closed down so they could set up for their new 2003 line.  So no tours.  And, therefore, no York, Pennsylvania.

Instead, we headed home.  Home – being the place where Jon and I grew up: Northern Virginia.

We thought we’d surprise my parents, but then Mom called the mobile phone because she had “a feeling” we’d be coming home today.  So no surprise, just a wonderful reunion.

We reached my parents’ house in Burke, Virginia around 4:30.  And after over a year away, it was wonderful to see them.

Mom, Heidi, and Dad

It’s Good to Be Home!

The plan is to stay here in Northern Virginia for a while.  Mom and Dad have a little “guest apartment” in their basement that’s perfect for us.  And our sublettors are happy to stay in our NYC apartment for a while longer.  So until AT Kearney tells me I have a job, we’ll probably stay here for a while and get some hourly-wage jobs to help pay the bills.

As a result, subsequent journal entries will be less than thrilling.  I’m sorry to say: this will probably be the final journal entry.  I know that – technically – we haven’t gone “Around The World” until we return to our New York apartment.  But we’re really not going to have anything exciting to talk about.  

And – frankly – I’m getting tired of writing.  

It’s been 386 journal entries, give or take a few.  They’ve been a great way to log our trips and crazy antics and I’m thankful that we’ve had the opportunity to provide friends and family (and some strangers) with entertainment.  It’s been a lot of fun.  But – as is evidenced by my recent week-long delays in uploading – I’m getting lazy with regard to the journals.  So I think it’s time to throw in the towel.

The travels haven’t ended – just slowed down.  We’re going to New York City in a few weeks, and I’ll be meeting with my girlfriends in North Carolina for a reunion in the end of July.  For “special” trips like these, I may take the time to upload stories and pictures.  But I think it’s safe to say that The Connal Round-The-World-Trip has come to an end.  (Despite all our attempts to prolong it.)

Thanks to everyone who’s logged on and laughed/cringed/smiled/etc at our stories.  It’s been a great experience writing them.

Don’t be a stranger!!  You know our emails!

United States: Saint Clairsville, Ohio

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States

We took off from our Chicago hotel and drove around looking for a Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast.  Then we hit the road and drove and drove and drove.  (again).

There really wasn’t much excitement to the day, except for the pickup truck we passed with a strange passenger in the flatbed.

Kermit Cruisin’

St Clairsville, Ohio

Finally we reached the edge of Ohio in a little town called St Clairsville.  Jon wanted to get to Pennsylvania tonight, but because we drove into the east coast time zone we decided to stop around 8:00 EST.  We stopped at the Red Roof Inn for a song, and decided to go “out” to dinner at Outback Steak House or Appleby’s.  However, Outback was out of our price range, and Appleby’s was out of cheeseburgers.  (Out of cheeseburgers?!?!  How is that possible?)

So we settled for McDonald’s – we are so tired of fast food – and took it back to the room and watched “Hannibal”.

United States: Chicago, Illinois

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States

We spent the morning packing up the car and saying good-bye to Ed and Jane.  Yesterday’s massive rain storm had an unfortunate result: somehow, the entire driver’s side carpet of the car is soaking wet.  It doesn’t appear that there was a leak, because nothing else in the car is wet (seats, walls, etc are all dry).  So somehow the water leaked up from below.  Jon thinks it’s because of a missing plug on the bottom of the body on the driver’s side.  Either way, the stuff we had on the floor (camera and a few books) are soaked.  This made Jon very, very unhappy and he spent a good hour trying to dry out the car.

The Cheese Chalet, Wisconsin

Then we hit the road and drove as far east as we could in a day.  As we passed through Wisconsin, however, we made a point to stop by a cheese factory since we didn’t stop last time through.  As we got off the freeway, I pointed out an interesting site to Jon and he insisted that we stop for pictures.


The Pink Elephant

Then we drove the extra block or so to the Cheese Chalet.  This must be the town of bizarre statues, because there was a massive cow out front of the Chalet.  Jon, of course, made me pose in various hysterical places around the cow – which you can well imagine.

The Cow At the Cheese Chalet

The cheese tasting was very good, especially because I love cheese.  We bought a Dill Havarti, a Four-Year Cheddar, and some Aged Gouda for my parents.  Then we hit the road again.

United States: Minneapolis, MN

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States

It was pouring rain today, so we didn’t go out for a run.  Instead, we slept in and hung out until it was time to go to Joanna’s for lunch.  We ran out in the rain and jumped into the car, getting only partially soaked.  Then we drove to Jo’s and hung out with her for a while.  We’d originally planned to go into town and do some walking around, but we didn’t think that Paige would appreciate being dragged around in the rain.  So we decided instead to play with Paige and to go into St Paul for lunch.

Jon Building Towers for Paige

Lunch was at a cafeteria-style Italian restaurant where we ordered different dishes and carried them upstairs to eat.  Paige at first didn’t like her noodles but she perked up once we added chicken to it.  After a delicious and enjoyable lunch, we went to Blockbuster for a movie and ended up getting the third season of “Sex In The City”.  Back at Jane and Ed’s, Jo put Paige down for a nap and the three of us watched the movie.  Then Paige woke up and it was time for more baby-bonding time.

Paige and Heidi

Dinner at Chino Latino

Later in the evening, we drove into Minneapolis with Zack to a trendy restaurant called Chino Latino.  But before we met everyone for dinner, we went to a nearby bar for drinks with Joanna and Kyle and Zack.  Then we met Ed, Jane, and their other son John, at Chino Latino.

Dinner With The Gosses (L to R): Zack, John, Kyle, Heidi, Joanna, Jane, Ed, Jon

Chino Latino is a funky looking multi-level restaurant that serves family-style dishes.  The decor reminded us of a colorful Asia de Cuba, and featured some of the same types of food.  For example, we ordered fried rice with guacamole.  Very fusion!  The food was great, and we had a great time together.

The Cousins: Zack, Jon, Heidi, Joanna

After dinner, Zack, John, Kyle, Joanna, Jon and I went to a nearby blues/jazz restaurant/bar that was decorated like the underneath of a Chicago El stop.  There were tons of beers to choose from and we enjoyed listening to the blues band (from Brooklyn, by the way) and hanging out.  We stayed for a few hours and then drove home with Jo and Kyle.

United States: Minneapolis, MN

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States

Running Path

We went for a run through a path Uncle Ed told us about.  It went behind some of the neighborhood houses and near some lovely ponds.  There were a bunch of kids assembling some steps and little bridges over a pond while we ran through.  And a very nice run – although muddy!

Another Day of Rest

We spent the rest of the day hanging out in Ed and Jane’s very cool TV room, with the curtains drawn and the DVD player going.  We watched Ocean’s Eleven, which is a very entertaining movie.  At one point, Joanna walked into the house to see us and we were more than a little embarrassed to be lounging around on such a beautiful day.  But then again, we’re really tired of sight-seeing and doing stuff.  And we really wanted to see Ocean’s Eleven.

So we hung out with Jo for a little while and made plans with her tomorrow.  We also decided that we were going to make Phad Thai for Jane and Ed for dinner.  And Jo – because she was playing a late round of golf – asked us to save some for her and she’d drop by later.

After the movie, we went into town to a Thai Grocer that Jo told us about. We found everything we needed except for Tamarind Juice, which we can’t seem to find anywhere at all.  But we’ll be all right without it.  Then we visited a fancy grocery store called “Kowalski’s” to get some other stuff, including ice cream.

And back at Jane and Ed’s, we got down to business.

Phad Thai

I don’t know what it is about this dish, but we always make the BIGGEST mess when we make Phad Thai.  It’s probably because of all the stirring of sticky noodles.  Regardless, we just can’t seem to cook this without much of it ending up on the stove and surrounding countertops.

Phad Thai in Jane and Ed’s Kitchen

Despite the mess, dinner was good.  Jo stopped by with her friend Beth after their golf game, and they finished up whatever was left in the wok.  Then Jane’s “vine” arrived.  This was a much-anticipated delivery for the household.  There’s an area above the kitchen where the “vine” used to live before Jane sent it out to be redecorated, and she was excited that it would be filled again.  Her boys (Ed and my cousin Zack) were recruited to re-hang it above the kitchen – a process that required two ladders, good balance, and a solid sense of humor.

The Hanging of the Vine

Jon and I – because there was nothing else we could do – stretched out on the floor and supervised.

United States: Minneapolis, MN

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States

Tour at Harley Davidson Powertrain

Jon “The Schedule Nazi” made us wake up bright and early so we could make it to Harley Davidson in time for the 9:30 tour.  Of course, we ended up getting their about an hour ahead of time but I’m not complaining.  Oooooh no.  

This is Harley Davidson Powertrain Assembly Plant.  Here they build new and remanufactured engines for Harley Davidson motorcycles.  As we pulled into the parking lot, one can’t help but notice the abundance of Harleys parked out front in the special “motorcycle” parking spaces.  Those of us mortals who drive cars had to hike a bit further from the car parking lot.

Harley Davidson Powertrain Factory

The sign out front said that all tours had to wear protective goggles and closed shoes, so we – the perpetual sandal wearers – had to go back to the car to change shoes.  No problems.  Inside, we had a short wait for the next tour to start, and were fully entertained by the motorcycles on display in the lobby of the building.

Don’t We Look Good on This New V-Rod?

We couldn’t take pictures during the tour of the production plant because Harley is pretty uptight about their practices.  And a competitor isn’t going to get enough information out of the 45-minute tour.  But we thought it was cool.  We had safety goggles and some ear-pieces-speakers that picked up the tour guide’s microphone.  So despite the loud racket of the production line, we could hear everything the guide had to say.  At some points during the tour, he hooked up the microphone to a television and a video played about the particular process on the line.  I, of course, had no idea what each process was doing or why.  But it was still a cool experience.

And Jon loved every part of it.  Despite the fact that they don’t assemble the bikes here (that occurs in York, Pennsylvania), Jon really enjoyed the tour.  Before we left, we bought a little “Born To Ride” jumper for my cousin’s daughter, Paige.  Then we hit the road and drove four-five hours to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Aunt Jane and Uncle Ed’s

When I was in St Louis, I talked briefly to my Aunt Jane (my father’s sister) and found out that Minneapolis is only six to seven hours away from Chicago.  And since we were going to Chicago, we were going to be right in their neighborhood!  So we decided to swing by on our way back to Virginia.

We arrived at my Aunt Jane (my Father’s sister) and Uncle Ed’s house.  There, we hung out with my cousin Joanna, her husband Kyle and their adorable daughter Paige.  Uncle Ed made a wonderful dinner of grilled chicken and Cesar Salad.  But don’t ask him what the recipe is for his dressing, because he just “throws things together” so it’s a big mystery – even to the immediate family. 

Heidi, Paige (in her new Harley outfit), and Joanna

United States: Minneapolis, MN

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States

We left Chicago early and drove an hour and a half to get to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  There, we spent a “Jon Day”.  The first stop: The Miller Brewery.

Frederick Miller’s Plank Road Brewery

Jon’s been looking forward to this for days.  In fact, since we’d visited the Anheuser-Busch Brewery last week.  So we walked in and got tickets for the brewery tour, which had about 30 people on it and two tour guides.  The guides were a riot and made the tour very enjoyable.  We walked through the production line and saw some cool statistics: 2000 cans filled per minute, 1400 bottles filled every minute.  That’s a lot of beer.

After the production floor they took us to the “Miller Caves”, which is where Miller used to store the beer kegs before they’d moved to a larger storage facility.  Pretty cool stuff.

Jon Going Into the Caves

Immediately after the Caves, we entered “The Inn” where we would taste some honey beer.  We sat at a table with a couple from El Paso who were visiting their families in Madison, WI.  They weren’t very talkative, so Jon and I chugged our beers and crossed the street to the other Miller bar.  There, we could get two more tastings and sit out in the sun.  To me, they all tasted like beer.  Jon claimed there was a difference, but I suppose that I’m just not as in-tune to beer as I am to wine. 

Then we drove to our hotel room and later left for Miller Park.

Miller Park – The Wilwaukee Brewers vs. Houston Astros

Miller Park

The [ark was beautiful.  It has a retractable roof that was open for our game and that’s great – it was a spectacular evening.  The Milwaukee Brewers were playing the Houston Astros, and we had the cheap seats in the bleachers.  Jon had bought them over the Internet, and there was one thing that they hadn’t revealed: The Obstructed View!  We sat down and said, “You have GOT to be kidding me!”.  The yellow foul pole was blocking most of the field from us.  So after a few minutes of trying to lean to look at the field, we moved down a row and over a bit.

Our Original View

The New Seats – Look!  A Ballgame!

The Brewers have a mascot named “Barnie Brewer”.  Unlike other mascots, however, Bernie stays in a little upper-corner of the ballpark in a place known as “Bernie’s Dugout”.  He shows up there at the beginning of the game, and then slides down a huge slide whenever the Brewers hit a home run.  (Which wasn’t often).  

And when the Astros switched pitchers, a man came out on a Harley and rode around the field.  Why?  We still don’t know.  Nor do we know why the four Wieners came out and did a race around the front of the field.  But I have to admit it was pretty funny.

The Wiener Race

We left in the eighth inning because the Brewers were up and we were actually kind of tired.  So we went back to the hotel and crashed.

United States: Chicago, Illinois

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States

Jon and I woke up this morning to go for runs, but instead woke up feeling very ill.  We both had swollen glands, were achy and sniffling and all-around icky.  Jon said that he figured that something like this would happen.  This past week was jam packed with activity and little sleep, and the night before last was really tiring.  He said that this was to be expected.  So we spent the day – my one and only day in Chicago – in bed.  We just couldn’t motivate ourselves to go out and do anything cultural.

And it was a good day to lay around too.  The day was overcast and rainy, so it wasn’t difficult to convince ourselves that our time would be better spent inside.

So sad.

For dinner, we actually did motivate outside though.  My friend Eddie Barker is in town on a consulting contract.  Eddie married my former roommate and bridesmaid, Yoon.  He also, ironically, went to NYU Stern School of Business and is working for my soon-to-be employer, AT Kearney.  Actually, Eddie is one of the many reasons I decided to accept the job with ATK.  So it was nice to be able to see him and hang out.

The Chicago Skyline

We met him “downtown” at a cool restaurant called Mas (www.masrestaurant.com).  We had a great time at dinner and spent most of the time talking about our trip, Yoon, and Eddie’s project.  We also learned a lot about the status of the consulting industry and the state of the company I’m going to work for.  ATK told me, after they last postponed my start date from July to some nebulous “soon”, that I could find another employer and they wouldn’t penalize me for the signing bonus I spent a year and a half ago.  But I don’t want to find another job.  I want to work for AT Kearney!  And spending the evening with Eddie reminded me why this is.  I want to work with intelligent, motivated people.  I want to work on interesting projects that will change every few months.  I’m ready for this.  And Jon and I both agreed after dinner that we’re ready to return to the real world and to concentrate on our careers again.

Now, if only we could find a way to do that!

United States: Chicago, Illinois

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States

Jon rallied us up and out of bed really early this morning.  He wanted to make it to Chicago by 10:45 for the 1:00 Chicago Cubs – Chicago White Sox game.  We were on the road for almost four hours, but we made it to Wrigley Field in perfect time.

How We Got the Tickets…

Now, this weekend is a major inter-league baseball weekend across the country.  And this – the Cubs vs. the White Sox – is a major inter-league game, much like the Subway Series of Yankees vs. Mets.  It’s virtually impossible to get tickets.  Almost.

Originally, we weren’t planning to come to Chicago.  Our friends Mike and Lynn from San Diego were in Chi-town for the weekend, but we didn’t think the timing would work out for us.  But an intriguing (and slightly random) connection got us here.  When we stayed with Bridget and Terry in Kansas City, we mentioned that we weren’t going to Chicago and Jon said something about but not being able to get tickets to Wrigley Field.  Bridget and Terry said, “Well, Billy can get you tickets!”.  Huh?  Billy who?

Billy is Terry’s very best friend and was the best man at their wedding.  He’s also (small, small world) the third baseman for the Chicago Cubs!!!  Uuuuuuuhhhh…. excuse me?  Are you joking?!?!?  That alone is reason to go to Chicago!  Just for the story!  So Billy Mueller (pronounced “Miller”) secured us five highly coveted tickets to today’s inter-league game and we were so psyched about it.

Wrigley Field

We met Mike and Lynn and Jon’s friend Steve Lieberman at the main entrance of Wrigley Field.  We wanted to get into the ballpark when the Cubs were at batting practice so we could find Billy and say hello and thanks for the tickets.

Lynn, Jon, Mike, and Steve at Wrigley Field

Unfortunately, the player tickets hadn’t been sent down to Will Call yet, so we instead went to a nearby bar where ESPN was hosting a brunch.  Steve works for ESPN, so he knew the place to go!  We hung out there for a while and then made our way back to Wrigley Field.

Jon, Mike and I went down near third base to see if we could catch a glimpse of Billy Mueller but the Cubs had long since finished their batting practice.  So we stuck around for a while but since the seats were filling up so we went back to our own seats.  Later, we saw Billy come out on the field to stretch and warm up, so we headed down again to find him.  As soon as we made it down to third base (no small feat in this sold-out stadium), Billy ducked back into the dugout.  So we never got a chance to thank him for the tickets.

Our seats, by the way, were spectacular.  Bridget and Terry warned us that the players’ seats are never the best.  Baseball is, after all, still a business and the players are employees.  So the best seats will naturally be used for revenue and not for the players’ benefit.  But our seats were great!  We were high up in the first section, in the shade, with a perfectly symmetrical view of the field.

Our View of Wrigley Field

So we were quite happy with our seats!  But honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered if we were in the nosebleed seats.  It wouldn’t have mattered because – of course – these tickets were given to us by Billy Mueller, third baseman for the Chicago Cubs!

In fact, we’d have been happy with the “rooftop seats” outside the stadium.  The people who own the buildings around Wrigley Field have built bleachers on top of their roofs for seating and revenue.  How funny is that?  There’s the price for having a ballpark in the middle of a bustling city.


Private Bleacher Seats

Anytime Billy came up to bat, we cheered like crazy.  I have no idea if he heard us, but I’d like to think that it helped a bit.  He was batting .228 and was 1-4 with a walk and a run scored.  

Billy At Bat

Did I mention that our tickets were given to us by Billy Mueller, third baseman of the Chicago Cubs?

The Cubs lost to the White Sox 10-6, and the crowd was absolutely nutty the entire game.  It was a surprisingly even split between Cubs fans and White Sox fans, but all were equally fanatical about their teams winning this game.  What a great way to spend a beautiful father’s day.  At an exciting and energetic baseball game.  Does life get better than this?

Only if your tickets are courtesy of Billy Mueller, third baseman of the Chicago Cubs.

After the game was over, we said good-bye to Lynn and Mike who had a flight to catch back to San Diego.  Steve went with them because their luggage was at his apartment.  Jon and I went down to the Cubs’ dugout to try to see Billy again, but that was highly unlikely because we knew he had a radio interview to do after the game.  It’s all good, though.  One really can’t complain about hanging out in an empty Wrigley Field.  Well, except the security guards who eventually came and shooed us out.

We got in our car and headed to our hotel, which was about 30 minutes outside the city.  45 minutes with the heinous Sunday evening traffic.  The hotel, it turns out, is just near O’Hare airport but we didn’t notice any air traffic when we later settled in to sleep.

United States: Springfield, Illinois

Posted Posted in Round The World Trip, United States

The big plans for the day was the lake house.  My Aunt Ann (Dad’s sister) and Uncle Roy have a lake house about an hour south of St Louis.  The entire family was converging on this little town in Missouri for a day of fun in the sun, skiing, and swimming.

Jon and I packed up the car and followed Aunt Chris, Uncle Walter, Grandma and Grandpa as they led the way.  Today was a beautiful day to be outside, and the lake house was perfect for it.  We sat in the screened-in porch and enjoyed the scenery as we waited for the rest of the family.  The house isn’t immediately on the lake, but Ann and Roy have a friend down the lake with a lovely dock.  As Roy, Walter, and Jon loaded the “toys” (boat and jet ski) into the water, we greeted the rest of the Marstall Clan.

Marci and Jeff showed up, and Jeff shocked the family with his set of nipple rings.  Then my cousin Sara, her husband Brent, and their adorable daughter Makenna.  Makenna is about a year and a half old, and is the apple of everyone’s eyes.  Not to mention constant entertainment!  What a cutie she is.  Not long later, Bridget and Terry showed up with their dogs Riley and Murphy.  Then we all made our way down the street to Ann and Roy’s friends’ house, which they had graciously offered to us for the day.

Makenna, Aunt Chris, Marci and Sara

For some crazy reason, Roy gave Jon the keys to the Suburban to run an errand.  While he was gone, Walter decided it was time to get some water skiing in.  So Marci, Brent, Walter and I went out on the speed boat and hit the waves.  Marci went skiing first and, of course, looked great.  Then it was my turn.  I haven’t been skiing in about 10 years, so it took me three tries to get up on the skis.  But with everyone on the boat cheering me on and Walter’s coaching, it wasn’t very hard.  The hard part was staying up!

Heidi Water Skiing

It’s a lot more work than I remembered!  After just a few minutes, I could feel the strain in the my arms and legs.  I finally went down, and got such a painful wedgie that I swear I couldn’t breathe for a few minutes.  A pontoon passed me and the guy said, “I’ll bet that didn’t feel good.”  Yeah.  No kidding.  But I got back up again when they brought the boat around.  This time when I went down, I had a much softer landing.  I was completely exhausted by this point, so I took off my skis and turned them over to Brent.

Jeff came by on the jet ski and he wanted to ski, so Marci and I climbed on the jet ski and off we went.  I drove, because Marci’s done this “tons of times”.  And the funny thing was that she was barely holding on for the entire ride!  The speed limit on the lake is 45 mph, and I was barely going 40 but that was fast!  But Marci was chattering and hanging out like she was on the back of a tricycle instead of a jet ski.

Then I dropped Marci off at the speedboat and I went back to the dock to pick up Jon.  He and I rode around the lake quite a few times, with him egging me on to fly over the wakes.  Subconsciously I would slow down whenever we hit a wake, and Jon would tease me about being scared.  But we were definitely airborne a few times.  Then he drove and I held on.  For dear life, I held on!  It’s different when you’re no longer in control of this kind of toy.  Even though Jon was driving safely, I felt like I was going to fly off.  The jet ski “corners like it’s on rails”, but I don’t.  So whenever he took a corner, I would feel myself sliding off the back and would have to hold on with my arms and my knees.  This makes me wonder, yet again, how Marci road behind me without holding on. 

Jon on The Jet Ski

Back at the dock, the girls had broken out the hors d’oevres.  So Jon took off on the jet ski again, and the rest of us got in some quality dock time.  Terry and Bridget’s dogs were taking full advantage of the water, and Riley didn’t look like he was letting up any time soon.  Every time Riley doggie-paddled back into shore, Terry would through his float toy back out in the water and Riley would jump in to get it.

As the afternoon faded away, we slowly trickled back to Ann and Roy’s house for dinner.  Roy was grilling like crazy, and the rest of us put out our various dishes of salad, potatoes, broccoli, cake, etc.  Dinner was delicious.  We passed most of the time watching Makenna and laughing at her silly antics.

Makenna Chasing Bubbles

Dinner was delicious and incredibly filling.  So we all sat around and moaned for a while before it was time to leave.  But before we all departed, we stopped to pose for a family portrait.  The people who let us hang out on their dock all day came to dinner and have three young children.  One of the kids – Brian – asked Jon if we were all related.  He thought about it and said, “Well, all the girls are related.  The boys just married in.”  And the funniest thing is that it’s completely true!  The blood-related male in our party was Grandpa.

The Marstall Clan

Back Row: (Left to Right): Jon, Uncle Roy, Heidi, Aunt Chris, Uncle Walter, Marci, Bridget, Terry, McKenna, Brent, Sara

Front Row: (L to R): Aunt Ann, Grandpa, Grandma

Soon after, Jon and I said our good-byes and followed Marci and Jeff out the lake complex and onto 44 toward Illinois.  We knew we couldn’t make it to Chicago tonight, but we wanted to drive as far as we could.  We were both exhausted from the long and active day, but Jon was determined.  After about three hours on the road, we neared Springfield, Illinois.  We decided we’d go one hour further north and crash there.  So I made some phone calls to the hotels in the area and found that they were all booked.  Booked!  What in the world is there to do in central Illinois on a Saturday night that all the hotels are booked?!?!  The only place we could find to stay was in Springfield at the Super 8 Motel.  Not a problem, but we were bummed that we had to stop an hour earlier than we’d planned.