Last night we discovered a Denny's next to the hotel so we treated ourselves to a late night snack. No matter how many times I come to the States I forget how large the portion sizes are. And every time I order nachos I get asked if I want the full or the half portion. And every time I say full. And every time I regret it when they come out of the kitchen. And every time I eat less than half the plate and then have to explain that there is nothing wrong with the food and I'm actually just an idiot.
With bellies full of real food for the first time in days, we fell into bed and were asleep within seconds. We even treated ourselves to a lie in this morning, knowing that today was going to be the hardest drive of the whole trip.
After checking out and packing the car, we went to Mall of America. Just to say we did, and to get some steps in before another long driving day.
It turns out going to the second largest mall in America (King of Prussia in Pennsylvania is apparently the biggest now) with virtually no money is pretty depressing.
Whoever decided to put rollercoasters in the middle of a shopping mall however is a genius. We didn't go on them but they were fun to watch. Maybe next time? Definitely a good idea for parents who just want to get rid of their kids for the afternoon while they shop!
After about an hour of aimlessly walking around, we decided our minimal funds would be better spent getting our first Dunkin Donuts of the trip (well, BFF got one in LA without me, the traitor). So we plugged it into the sat nav and headed off, fuelled with the caffeinated sugary goodness that is Dunkin. Frankly, I'm amazed we made it a whole week without! Normally I'm inhaling it within minutes of getting off the plane!
So imagine our utter disappointment when the Dunkin we were going to didn't exist! The sat nav was wrong!
We ended up spending an hour driving around looking for a different Dunkin before finally finding one! I could have cried when we finally walked in and ordered. The woman behind the counter firstly questioned our order of caramel iced coffees with cream and sugar.
Dunkin woman: 'Are you sure you want the sugar? Because the caramel is already sweet?'
Dunkin woman: 'really? That's a lot of sugar!'
Us: 😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐 'we know'.
I could feel her judgement from behind the counter. She then asked where in Australia we were from and got very confused when she learned that only one of us was Australian. When she found out I was from England she proceeded to tell me she has family in England and maybe I know them. Why do Americans always think the British know each other?! It's not that small!! Just give me my damn coffee!!
At last, our coffees were ready and we went to hide in the car to eat our breakfast to avoid any further judgement. Goodbye Dunkin Woman.
Back on the road we had no choice but to get the drive to Chicago underway! Today's route is only 7 hours, a breeze compared to the last 2 days! It's a sad time when 7 hours of driving is considered short and easy!!
We crossed into Wisconsin sooner than we expected so we were totally unprepared to get a picture of the state line. Luckily we have already been to Wisconsin before so we have one! Wisconsin marked the 10th state of the trip and also marked the point where insanity may have started to set in. It's probably a good thing that we are seeing Kaitlin tonight, it will be nice to have someone different to talk to (no offence BFF!) and to do something different.
The closer we got to Chicago, we realised that we were definitely heading towards civilisation again. Illinois was the first place we saw tolls on the trip so far and after paying 3 in quick succession, the novelty wore off!
Traffic heading into Chicago was the worst we had seen so far. Turns out there was a Cubs game on right as we were driving through so I got to play a great game of 'let's not hit the drunken baseball fan' the whole way around the stadium.
As Kaitlin was at work until 9pm, we went to hang out with her at the gym she works in. Perks of having a friend that works on the front desk of a gym spa? Free hydro-massage!! It was exactly what we needed after sitting in the car all the way from Vegas. 20 minutes of lying on a bed being pummelled by a powerful water jet worked wonders! Thanks Kaitlin!
With renewed energy, and apparently a huge appetite, we set off in search of dinner at a place called Portillos. It was a mix of American and Italian food and the whole restaurant had a super chilled, laid back vibe. The food was amazing!! Can I eat there every day?!
Back at Kaitlin's, we spent hours catching up on everything. And I mean hours. Until 3:30am. Oops. 😴😴