8457 Day 1 – Welcome to Ohio!
Get up at about 9am, on the road by 10. Got packed up and picked up ice for the cooler and pastrami for sandwiches. Too tired to manage much beyond an apple for breakfast, I sit numbly in the seat as we set off for a day of driving. At about 11:15 or so, we stop for lunch at a rural gas station, then head on to Tenn. At about 2pm, we stopped in Lexington for gas, then hit Knoxville at about 6pm. Some idiot ran a stoplight and almost braodsided us, but I screamed ay John in time enough for him to wrench the wheel far enough right that we didn’t get hit. At 7:30pm we hit Ohio, with me bouncing in the seat with joy and snapping pictures all over the place. Most were too blurry to keep, but I was happy anyway. John and I head to my aunt Charlotte’s house for the night, have a few hot dogs, then proceed to crash. 556 miles.

8454 Day 2 – What do you mean ‘How do you know?’.. They’re in my living room.
Wake up after night from hell with hot dogs. Now I recall why I don’t buy them.. I think I was up from about 2 – 4am trying not to throw up between bathroom visits. Went out to the house I grew up in and to the trails I’ve wanted to go back to for 9 years. It took us a lot of wandering around to find them, because they’re gone.. ::sigh:: They’re all grown over. No kids play back there anymore. On the plus side, since no kids play back there, no one saw us fighting with the trees. There’s been a ton of erosion back there, so the stuff I could jump as a kid is impossible to jump now, so we had to climb down, which was tough. I overheated and got really sick-feeling on the way out, but John saved me by going to get the Jeep while I sat on the curb. It’s really odd… Everything was so strange to come back to, because I was so much shorter 9 years ago. Things were so much bigger back then. I was disappointed the trails are grown over and unused, but happy to see them again. We left, heading toward Milwaukee and Amanda. After skirting Chicago for 2 hours, we hit South Milwaukee. Parking is easy as pie, and we find Amanda’s apartment easily. Knocking on the door, we hear her talking to someone. I hear no other voices, so I assume she’s on the phone. She answers the door and yells into the phone “Ma, I gotta go, they’re here!” She gives us giant hugs and sits us down in the living room to inform us that park plans have changed as the phone rings. Picking it up she says “Hey Ma. What do you mean ‘How do you know?’.. They’re in my living room!” John and I fall out of our seats laughing. After some good Chinese food, she takes us over to her mother’s house for the night. I put John to bed because he’s starting to see things, then sit up to play with kitties and makeup for an hour or so before bed. I can’t get to sleep all that fast because I’m being girly and wondering what eye shadow shades to take with me. 406 miles.

8496 Day 3 – You’re from Georgia?
Get up, shower, count 17 bug bites, say hi to kitties again, go out shopping with Amanda and her mother. Lunch at Applebee’s, then hit Sam’s for food shopping for the campout. When we get back to her mom’s house, we find that a police man has just called in out Jeep for a check, because we have no plate in the front, and we’re parked facing the wrong way. After explaining to the nice police man that no, we’re from Georgia on a road trip and no, they don’t give us 2 plates, he lets us go. We stop by Lake Michigan to take a look-see. Very pretty. I found a seagull feather, and got a picture of a seagull on a lamp post. I wanted to stay a bit longer, but we had to get going if we were going to get to the campsite in time. Head back to Amanda’s place for Mark and supplies. I try to call the park we’re headed to, but there’s no answer. Manda maps it out on mapquest to find it’s 5 hours to get there, so we opt to leave in the morning. Head back to Manda’s mom’s place to play with kitties and crash again. 10 miles.

8489 Day 4 – Uh.. Lighter fluid again?
After finding 4 new bug bites on my legs, everyone hops in their respective vehicles to drive to the camp sites. John and I got semi-lost on the way down, but somehow managed to get there before Amanda and Mark, even though we started out behind them. Getting there, I visit the pit toilets (which, if you’re not familiar with are holes with toilet seats on top) which kinda scare me. I half expected something to reach up and bite my ass while I was sitting there. I hurriedly get back to camp and help John set up the tent. I change into shorts just as Mark drives up with Amanda, then laugh and take pictures while they set up their tent. I had a total of 23 bug bites to put that awful pink Caladryl on while I was doing this though, so I kinda had to sit down anyway. I was itching like mad. Make dinner (I had some oatmeal), then go get firewood. John passed out in the tent, so I kidnapped Amanda and Mark to go with me. After picking out several unwet feeling pieces, we attempt to start a fire, but it doesn’t go so well. I swear, we were out there trying to get the roaring fire thing going on for hours, to no avail. I almost asked some of the other campers in the park, but opted not to. After collecting an armload of twigs, we still couldn’t get the fire going and gave up. It got dark, so we all called it a night and packed up the food so we could go to bed. Mark and Manda went to go brush teeth while John died and I read a bit before bed. I got worried after a while though, because they were taking forever with tooth brushing. I was about go check on them when they finally came back at about 12am, so I laid down and slept. 191 miles.

8493 Day 5 – 30 cents each or three for a dollar.
At about 2am, I am awakened by a huge crash of thunder overhead, while rain drums on the tent above me, so loud it’s almost deafening. With wide eyes, I look skyward to watch the lightning and silently hope that the tent doesn’t leak. I lay there for about 30 minutes, drifting in and out of sleep before giving up on sleep altogether. I find my mini flashlight and my book, knowing it’ll be a while before the rain slacks off enough that I can get back to bed. John slumbers on behind me, almost oblivious to the rain and thunder. I thought I heard a car door open and shut, but above the noise it’s hard to tell. The rain finally dies down a bit after about 2 hours, so I lie back down. I wake again at about 5am, cold as hell, to more loud rain and thunder, then notice that my toes are wet. Shit… the tent must be leaking. Hoping it doesn’t get too wet, I shiver myself into slumber again, only to wake again at about 6am because I laid my head in a puddle. Wipe off my head, curl up, shiver self to sleep again. Wake again at 9am or so. Still raining hard, but I’m too annoyed to get back to bed. Mark woke up soon after John and I did, to find that Amanda had gotten up during the night to sleep in the car. We all pack up the camp, then head into downtown Cassville to get breakfast. We stop at this place called Rivers Cafe… The minute we walk in, it’s like an episode of The Twilight Zone. I promise. It was as if we’d stepped back in time to the early 90’s. Everyone in the diner stared at us as we took our seats. I really thought some big greasy guy was going to walk up and be like “Hey. You better git outta Bubba’s seat before he gits here, ya hear?” Our waitress was all of 13, and not all there… I saw some postcards on the counter (I’d been looking for some), so I asked her how much they were. She goes away to ask the manager, then comes back to tell me “Thirty cents each, or three for a dollar.” Manda and I just stare at each other for a second, then burst out laughing. I pick out 8 postcards, for $2… We pay our tabs, then leave. Outside, we say our goodbyes. Mark and Amanda are going home, John and I are headed to a warm, dry hotel room in Bloomington, IL. We decide on the cheaper Super 8, and crash after a nice hot shower and some food. 243 miles.

8460 Day 6 – Can I have a jar and some dirt?
Pack up the hotel room an leave early, drive to Ohio again to see my aunt one more time before we return to GA. I want to get a jar to dirt from Ohio before we go, but we can’t find one. We eat at the Parrot Restaurant (wonderful food, highly recommend if you’re ever in Middletown), then I take John by the other house in Middleton we lived in and get pictures of my elementary school before heading to my aunt’s place. We also went by the centennial park to get photos of the bricks my family bought. Crash hard, no hot dogs this time. I kept waking up because I kept dreaming that some guy was coming to get me. Like, I dreamed it was the same guy like.. 5 times. He kept cornering and attacking me. I bit him though, a lot. – 295 miles.

5713 Day 7 – Wheee…fishies!
Get up early, grab some dirt from my aunt’s backyard, hit the road. Go by the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga on the way back down. They have the most awesome seahorse exhibit there, and I got a cute fuzzy stuffed ‘weedy sea dragon’. We got in at about 10pm, scared hell out of Brian (he thought we were breaking in). I drove home, and talked to Meggie for a bit, played with my kitties, then wrote this up. 570 miles. Total miles traveled = 2260