Scarlett’s Letter August 21, 2013

Eggs God Dammit! I had eggs, again, for breakfast. I’ve ordered a hit on Humpty Dumpty.

OMG E.GG.s again.
OMG E.GG.s again.

Today is my “travel day”. My alarm was set for 1:30 AM. No matter which airport I choose and no matter how I do the math, it’s five hours from alarm to wheels up. I will admit, and you will probably agree, I am more than just a little OCD about arriving at the airport with ample time. Okay, with time to spare. Perhaps it’s an occupational hazard, but traveling for work as much as I do, I feel quite at home in airports, and, sadly, rather enjoy them. I could live in O’Hare like Tom Hanks in Terminal. So!

I left precisely thirteen minutes later than I’d hoped, but, I made it to the airport and parked exactly three minutes ahead of schedule. Living in Napa, adding significant time and no less than four highways to my commute, I allow more time than every App I own tells me I need. Have you noticed that every highway, roadway, boulevard, avenue, street, road, lane, and path are under some kind of construction? I travel all over the U.S. and it’s the same story everywhere. I’m quite certain it has a lot to do with Federal funding and money grabs. For the rest of us, it means one lane open out of four at any time of the day or night. I plan accordingly. I cannot imagine anything more stressful than being late for a flight. Well, actually, I can, but not in my daily life.

My flight was rather uneventful, thankfully. I didn’t get a first class upgrade, but because of my status, I had an “Economy Plus” aisle seat, which is the next best thing. So I was happy. For a minute. I had a chubby lady next to me who was also an arm rest hog. And snored. Next to her, an over talkative, gushing new mom and her seven month old baby girl. I will admit, the kid was cute, but she’d be a lot cuter further back in the plane. Miracle of miracles, she was quiet with only the occasional “happy sounds” for the whole three hour and forty minute flight. The baby , that is.

Once in Chicago, I gathered my luggage. The cool thing about status with United is that my bags are usually among the first off the plane. I took the bus to the car rental agency and, since I use National and have Executive status with them, I get to choose any car parked in my area and drive off. I don’t usually have really cool cars to choose from, though I’ve had a Mustang, a Charger and a Challenger. Today, sitting there, beckoning, was a Nissan Exterra. All but one passenger on the bus was headed for the Executive lot. I may have broken into a jog, towing two large purple suitcases behind me. I launched those suitcases into the cargo area as fast as I could heave the, jumped into the driver’s seat and took off. I haven’t had the opportunity to drive one, ever, and thought it would be fun!

It was fun! It’s a speedy little SUV, very quick to accelerate. A little twitchy at high speeds on the Interstate that is made rough from all the big rigs. But, I was able to deftly maneuver, at rather accelerated speeds, around all those big rigs and make my way, in short order, to a Whole Foods for sustenance.

It is sort of a loose mission, not formally stated, and likely not achievable, to visit every Whole Foods in the country. As there are whole states I haven’t visited yet, there are likely to be some missed locations. But, I am fairly certain I am gaining ground in Chicagoland. Today, I found yet another. And not entirely easy, nor by design. I really didn’t want to go downtown today, I’m saving that for Saturday. I was aiming for a Whole Foods in the burbs along my route. So I set off and thought I’d leave it to Siri. I’d ask Siri, while driving and taking pictures and video, for directions to the nearest Whole Foods. She kept wanting me to make a U-turn and head in the opposite direction. No matter where I asked her, that seemed to be her intent. I have a voice activated Garmin GPS I named Armando, though I don’t know why. I asked Armando for directions and he is way more categorical than Siri. He never even found a Whole Foods, ahead or behind me. So, I finally had to follow Siri’s advice, make a U-turn, pay another toll, and go where she wanted me to. But, at least, at the end of the exercise I had good food and a couple of promising bottles of wine to sustain me through the week.

I was headed for Michigan City, Indiana. I’ve been there a few times before. It is sort of a mid-western, meat and potatoes, twelve starches with dinner, gravy on top, corporate chain kind of a town. My only hope is a supply of wholesome, organic food to nosh on for at least two meals out of the day. The city is perched on the shores of Lake Michigan and you can, painfully, see the Chicago skyline far off, across the lake. The only “skyline” Michigan City has is the nuclear plant and the casino. Neither of which I find very appealing. The nuclear plant is actually right on the beach. The beach itself is really nice. Sandy and wide, with nice homes set close together along the edge on Lakeshore Drive. The “uptown” part of town looks like it’s trying really, really hard to be vital and artsy. I just don’t think the population is there to support it. There are some outlet shops immediately adjacent to the power plant. I generally try to avoid outlet stores, yesterday being a unique exception. I was desperate.

I arrived in Michigan City with my wholesome food for breakfasts and lunches. I checked in to my hotel, one I’ve stayed at before. The casino has a hotel but is clear across town, and I’m really not a huge fan of casinos. So, I stayed at the next best hotel, which is barely more than a motel. A very low-end chain hotel. But, it’s clean. Usually. And quiet. Usually. I lug all my groceries in with me and head to the counter to check in. Because I’m a member of their rewards program, I get a “treat bag”. It is chock full of all the stuff I don’t eat, including my favorite food in the whole world; Oreos. I. Think. I. Can. Resist. We’ll see.

My Whole Foods loot.
My Whole Foods loot.
My "gift" from the hotel. "Thank you for your loyalty to our chain, here is some crap."
My “gift” from the hotel. “Thank you for your loyalty to our chain, here is some crap.”

Since I’ve been here before, I’ve already explored the restaurant scene. I don’t like corporate chain restaurants. I can eat at those any old time in any old city, and, frankly, I’d rather eat tomatoes and dried kale in my room, it’s at least more imaginative than the menu offerings at all the usual restaurants; Applebee’s, Bob Evans, Gold Corral, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chilis. You get the idea. Open Table comes up zilch and I can’t get Yelp to load. I have 4G and full coverage (not LTE, though), but I can’t even get Google on my phone. Must be some weird force or aura or static or interference, while I look at the nuclear plant steaming away about five feet from the center of town. No. I trust nuclear power. Really, I support it. But at least give us the illusion of safety, like Sacramento did when Rancho Seco was live, build it way the fuck out of town. I know it wasn’t far enough out of town, but out of sight, out of mind. When the steam from the tower frizzes your hair, it’s too close!

After about three trips through town, gazing into all the vacant storefronts, I finally spot a Lebanese restaurant and stopped in for a fantastic dinner. And it wasn’t eggs! That was the highlight of my night, after which, I returned to the hotel to enjoy a glass of wine. But, once in my room, I just couldn’t abide by drinking wine from a disposable, plastic cup for yet another trip. I went to, heaven help me, Wal-Mart, which I could hit with a rock from my hotel window, if I tried. Really hard. I found a plastic, stemless wine glass for $1.97 and bought it. I swear it improved my experience. I’ll just keep it in my suitcase, along with my silverware, bowls, spices and wine bottle opener. Hey, when you live out of a suitcase, you may as well make it home. Right?

WalMart. I can see effing WalMart from my window. I AM in hell.
WalMart. I can see effing WalMart from my window. I AM in hell.

 

Cedar Pita in Michigan City , IN. If, for whatever reason or whatever misfortune lands you here, this is a bright spot.
Cedar Pita in Michigan City , IN. If, for whatever reason or whatever misfortune lands you here, this is a bright spot.

I enjoyed my wine, a Sonoma old vine zinfandel, and wrote, talked on the phone with my Sweetheart and prepared for my day tomorrow.

A really nice Sonoma County old vine Zinfandel, purchased at a Whole Foods is Chi-Town.
A really nice Sonoma County old vine Zinfandel, purchased at a Whole Foods is Chi-Town.

Today is National Spumoni Day and National Senior Citizens Day and I didn’t celebrate either of those things. I will have to celebrate with Mom when I get home, at almost ninety, she is definitely a senior citizen. We’ll have spumoni! Party on Wayne! Party on Garth!

 

 

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