11 - 31 July (Guest Blogger - Eleanor Poole - Part 1) Illionois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylva

Hello to all who are following Cathy and Tony’s journey, I’m Eleanor, their niece and I’ve come to tag along with them for the summer. I’ll be taking over the blog for the next 6 weeks, as we travel to Cath and Tony’s last few states, all in the north east, before they can say they’ve done the full 50. I hope you enjoy!

Day 1 – Wednesday 11th July - Arrival in Chicago

Arrived into Chicago after an eight-hour flight (delayed by three and a half hours). After about six and a half hours into the flight, a dozen or so men sat at my end of the plane cheered, at this point I realised the 2018 world cup semi-final, England v Croatia, was on live TV on the plane. I watched the first half, 1 – 0 to England at half time. Landed at 13:30 and went through a very long passport control queue, before meeting Cathy and Tony at arrivals, it was good to be reunited after two and a half years! Drove one-hour northwest (whilst streaming the match on Cathy’s phone, England lost 2 – 1 at extra time – miffed) of Chicago to a town called Union where the RV was parked in a KOA.

The campsite was quiet and very green with cute wooden chair swings at every pitch. I went inside the RV where I was greeted by the two dogs, Sandy and our Mexican adoptee Kira. She is very calm and sweet, with a limp and goggly eyes, looks sad most of the time, except when her long tail wags and gives her happiness away. She likes women, presumably due to the Mexican lady, Mary, who fed her and kept an eye on her whilst in Baja, Mexico. The RV is very big, both sides slide out as well as the bedroom, so it’s more like a house than a van. It’s like the RV from Meet the Fockers. Once I’d settled in, Cathy and I went to the little office to check me into the camp, then took the dogs for a walk around the campsite. Regret No.1 of this trip: not applying bug spray at dusk. A ten-minute walk resulted in me being eaten alive by mosquitos, arms and back

covered in bites.

By this time it was around 8:30pm, we drove into Union town, which is really just a crossroads, in Tony’s 20-year-old white Toyota Celica (very tight for space). We went to Clasen’s Tavern, it was very dark inside with old newspaper cuttings and pictures on the walls of the tavern in previous years. The owner, Jim, was American and his wife, Alison, was from Jersey; I never met Jim but Alison was very nice. All three of us had jalapeño burgers and ‘fries’, I attempted to order a cider but soon remembered the drinking age was 21, still baffles me, as you can drive and own a gun, but can’t have a bev with your dinner. The first night in the RV was good, I have the sofa bed which is very comfortable – with Kira as my roomy!

Day 2 – Thursday 12th July – Chicago

Cath and I caught the train into Chicago at around 10am from a town called Crystal Lake, took an hour and a half, the trains were strange (double decker, but inefficient use of space). On the train, we passed through the suburbs of Chicago, some towns reminded me of Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, almost too perfect. Most houses had the American flag outside.

As we arrived, we went for lunch at the Corner Bakery Café amongst the tall buildings, where most people were on their lunch break. From there, we made our way through town and onto ‘the Big Bus’ tour, which was two hours long and took us around all the main attractions of Chicago.

From the tour, we learnt that Chicago architecture was heavily influenced by European cities – in particular, Paris. Every eight months the people of Chicago and its visitors will see a new building added to its skyline, which is pretty impressive. Chicago is home to the third biggest skyline in the world, behind Hong Kong and New York city. Although I was only there for a day, my favourite part of Chicago was the northern side of the river. Most of the restaurants and bars were here, as well as some of the older buildings, like the old Wrigley Building and the original water tower. It also included the ‘Magnificent Mile’, which is actually only ¾ of a mile, but is home to big brands and designer stores.

Route 66 starts in Chicago and ends in Santa Monica CA

One of many pieces of public art - Flamingo in Federal Plaza

After enjoying the sights of Chicago, the three of us returned to what we could now call our local, Clasen’s Tavern, for dinner.

After a long day, we hit the sack at 9pm in preparation for a day on the road the following morning, however, the idea of an early night didn’t last long. At 10pm Kira decided to be sick, which meant me waking Cathy up to deal with it (no chance I was going to). After an hour of monitoring Kira, we tried our second attempt at an early(ish) night. This lasted half an hour(ish). I woke up to Kira’s now extremely swollen face in my face, meaning it was time to wake Cathy up again, and led to a trip to doggy A & E at 1am. In conclusion, Kira had an allergic reaction to a bite/ sting of some sort which was responsible for her looking like she’d been beaten up; a couple of injections and $200 later, she was fine.