Saturday, February 16, 2008

Creature of habit

I've just returned from visiting staff members in Peoria and Rockford, Illinois.

It's becoming routine. Too routine.

I always reserve the same Zip car: The navy blue Scion. I'm familiar with all its controls, it has a built-in iPod adapter and I even have its identification number memorized for when I have to fill up at a gas station. (947227)

The drive between Chicago and Peoria is awfully boring. The interchange from Interstate 55 to 74 is the high-point of the drive. So, I always listen to the obscure Prokofiev 2nd Piano Concerto, twice, on my iPod. The piece is forty minutes long and is so awfully weird and intense. Listening to it twice is the perfect antedote to the hugely boring drive.

I stayed at the same Comfort Inn in Peoria where I stayed last time.

I didn't mean to. I just exited at the same exit. You know, it's one of those freeway exits that happens to be festooned with just about every chain hotel + restaurant + service station that exists.

I pulled into a convenient hotel and when I walked into the lobby, I realized it was the same Comfort Inn that I'd been to three months before. I think I even parked in the same parking space.

I had a subsequent dinner at the same Ruby Tuesday across the parking lot. Their grilled salmon thingie is light and tasty. Eating lunch alone is fine, but I feel conspicuous eating dinner by myself so I always bring a book to read. Last time while at Ruby Tuesday, it was a biography of Abraham Lincoln. This time, it was of Mary Todd Lincoln.

On my way out of Peoria the following morning, I took highway 24 as a shortcut to Interstate 39 just as I did last time. There's a McDonalds just as you're leaving Peoria and, just like last time, I was hungry for breakfast.

You know I don't like to eat anything greasy or messy with my hands, so the bacon & egg bagel at that McDonalds on Hwy 24 serves my purpose. (McMuffins have that cornmeal on the outside that just freaks me out -- and don't EVEN get me started on any breakfast sandwich containing sausage . . . ).

Two and a half hours later, I was in Rockford for lunch. There's a Denny's on Hwy 20 that's not too crowded and I have to admit that my favorite lunch can be found at Denny's: A grilled chicken salad with blue cheese dressing with a large glass of tomato juice. The salad comes with lots of grape tomatoes which is a big plus. Also, I like the side of squishy garlic bread that accompanies it (eaten with a knife and fork, of course).

On the way back to Chicago from Rockford is one of those Super-Duper Highway stops that has everything: A very accessible BP gas station aside a huge mall that has a Starbucks and a men's room with large partitions between the urinals.

Large partitions between the urinals are appreciated; I don't care if you're gay, straight or whatever. All men enjoy large partitions when we have to pee next to one another. Believe me, ladies, we all hate it when whe enter those those public washrooms that have urinals closely lined up next to each other; the ones that appear like gravestones at Arlington cemetery. Large urinal partitions should be a law.

On the way back from Rockford, there are three toll booths. I wish Zipcar had a means of zipping us through the E-Z Pass things, but they don't. So, I've become used to have the dollar-fifty on hand for the first booth and the eighty cents for the subsequent ones.

I just make sure to collect the required toll-booth change from paying for the breakfast at McDonald's and lunch at Denny's along the way. Isn't my routine and efficiency just the most astounding thing?

Next week, I have to go to Springfield.

On the way, I'll be sure to have the patty melt at the restaurant at exit 97 on Interstate 55, request a room on the second floor at the Northfield Inn, and be sure to hit the breakfast buffet early because . . . .

(Pointing index finger at temple)


At 6:55 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I totally feel your pain. This brings back memories of when I worked in DC and travelled every week to campaigns. I remember the Holiday Inn Express in Hendersonville, KY, and can even picture the drive from the office to the hotel.



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