Once we left Niagara we were on a mission to find the cheapest hotel/motel in the Cleveland area. The AAA guidebooks turned out to be very helpful as we called each hotel listed and made our decision based on price and expected shadiness of the hotel. But lets be honest, I'm going to be a poor ski bum, so usually the bottom line price won, with the exception being Sundance, WY (more on that at another time). We ended up at the Travelodge, and learned one very interesting fact about Cleveland: the liquor stores close early, but they sell 'beer to go' at some of the bars in town. So while I went to pick up the car, Lauren went in the local bowling alley and bought a 6 pack to go. Crazy.
The next morning we found a Cracker Barrel for breakfast. We had stopped the night before at one in Albany and got a map of all 580 Cracker Barrel locations across the US so we would never go hungry. We played the classic golf tee game which proved that I was "just plain dumb" and Lauren was "just plain eg-no-ra-moose".
Next stop: Chicago. But with a few fun stops in between. I haven't mentioned it until now, but I wanted to get pictures with each state sign that we drove past. We entered NY, PA, and OH at night so the pictures didn't come out that great, but Indiana gave us a nice warm sunny welcome.
Somewhere along I-90 in Indiana I remembered something from a road trip Laur and I had been on a few months ago: a whiteboard. We had forgot a whiteboard. So we pulled over at the first stop we found with a dollar store and picked one up. To explain a little, we had been stuck in traffic in NY a few months ago when we passed a car that had a whiteboard in the window that said "honk if you like (use your imagination). So clearly I honked and for the next 20 minutes in traffic they kept writing us new notes that were hilarious and helped pass the time. So this trip, it was our turn to pass on the tradition.
It's amazing what a simple "Hi !" to a random stranger in another car can do to put a huge smile on their face. Not to mention it really helps to pass the time. Not long after buying the white board we said "Hi" to a car from RI as it passed. They slowed down and proceeded to show me the UConn football jersey the passenger was wearing. We went back and forth for a few minutes exchanging messages about skiing and UConn. Turns out, they were headed to the UConn vs. Notre Dame football game and had driven all the way from CT. And what a game they ended up seeing, a double overtime win.
We made it to Chicago in time to walk around town as the sun set, and grabbed dinner at a place Laur's friend recommended. Turns out, the pizza there is rated the 4th best in the entire country. Not sure who the official pizza rating organization is, but it was phenomenal pizza.
More on the rest of the trip at another time. I'm sure if you have read this far you are getting tired already and I need to head out to the village to grab a bite to eat.