Mostly it consisted of me dragging Mark around to take a few photos while he begged to retreat back into the van. We eventually did and pleaded with GPS to lead us out of the city. After getting out onto the major highways we quickly discovered something. Having spent my entire driving life in a desert state, those windshield wiper fluid squirters have always seemed...superfluous. Unnecessary. Does anyone really use those? K, but srsly they are absolutely positively most direly needed where it gets wet and cold and they put salt on the roads. Because that salt film will dry onto your windshield in seconds and there's nothing you can do but get it wet again and wipe it off.
Guess what was not in working condition in our van.
The windshield wiper fluid squirters.
It felt like every five minutes we had to pull over, splash some defroster fluid onto the windshield and oh mama did that get old so fast. A temporary solution was to find a semi truck flipping up water from the roads and stick close behind him so the salt didn't have the chance to dry up. This exact circumstance is what rendered the most stressful driving shift of my entire life. Barreling down the freeway in the dark with a storm raging about and huge trucks rumbling past me with a nearly opaque film constantly building and obscuring my vision. Pulling off into the rest stop we'd made a goal of getting to for that night was a moment of sweet relief. We slept there that first night, backed up against a steep sloping hill peppered with tall trees and a thick coating of freezing snow. I slept on the back bench since it was an easy, perfect fit for me and Mark huddled on a couple camping pads and a sleeping bag on the floor. It was nearly impossible to sleep past four in the morning, as we discovered over the next few nights. We both woke up perfectly cozy in our bundled up makeshift beds except for our noses. Ah, the conundrum of a cold nose versus the suffocation of stuffing one's head into the sleeping bag.
Sunday was all about getting to Chicago. Our goal was to get some classic deep dish pizza from a place we'd heard rave reviews and we drove all day to get there. Thankfully, the pizza was well worth it. Even for the three block walk we had to make from the closest parking spot we could find. That was a miserable little walk, indeed. I now first-hand understand why they call it the Windy City. Getting to Walmart to pick up some more motor oil was a trial in and of itself. The parking lot was basically a literal frozen tundra and any exposed skin left to face the inclement weather was stinging and numb within a few seconds. Wind chill is a beast, man.
Obviously we're not crazy and knew we couldn't try to sleep in our van parked in the glorious city of Chicago. We went about an hour out of the city to a rather large rest stop where a herd of semi's stretched all the up the deceleration lane. We found a cozy spot between two semi's and spent the night there, protected from the wind and benefiting from the idle engine heat of our neighboring semi.
Woke again at four in the morning to find this lovely sight on my cell phone...
D'you see that? "Real Feel negative 24."
I grew up in a relatively small town in Utah with mountains in my backyard and am no stranger to snow and chilly temperatures. But das ridikalus.
I'm not sure how to transition here. So just enjoy an instagram review of the above events:
Visibility and road conditions.
Evidence of the salt film fiasco.
This was the passenger side, much worse because we ended up not even bothering
and only focusing on the driver's side to preserve fluid.
Epitome of obnoxious.
Keepin' it simple with the "Classic Chicago".
The crust was just stiff enough to make it easy to eat with our hands
and the sauce was perfect.
The aforementioned Walmart frozen tundra.
Please notice the swirling ice clouds.
It wasn't actually snowing at that moment, the wind was just whipping it around.
^basically the mantra of my mind our whole time in the East