Distance: approximately 415 miles
Time: approximately 8 hours (including breaks)
We got breakfast at Yolk in Chicago (at Michigan and 11th) before we left, because I wanted to avoid eating on the road if at all possible. The place’s only virtues were the name (eggs are one of my very favourite foods) and the location (within walking distance of the hotel). Other than that, it just supports my position about not eating in downtown. The food wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t worth the price, and the atmosphere … ! Going through the door, I felt like I was walking into a factory. (Note to T^2: it was what I imagined when you said ‘breakfast shithole’.)
The drive itself was not quite as uneventful as our other drives. First there was the construction, near about 50 miles of it (Hide was quite frustrated), then there were more tolls (in Illinois; Wisconsin doesn’t seem to suffer from the same desire to toll), and finally, just as we were about to head into Minneapolis, I mistook an emergency turn-off for the beginning of an exit ramp, and ran over a median dividing the turn-off from the travel lanes at 60 mph. My tire did not blow up, and I merged safely back onto the highway, but it was scary nevertheless.
Once in Minneapolis, we got dinner at Tilia on the recommendation of a friend (who used to live in Chicago but moved to Minneapolis). We had swordfish, octopus, brussels sprouts, and a pasta that was basically a souped up carbonara (e.g., salami instead of prosciutto, egg yolk custard in addition to the regular cream sauce, cavatelli pasta instead of a more common shape). The food was without question very good (e.g. the octopus texture was excellent), but fell short of the ‘life-changing’ mark (e.g., 9/10 vs 11/10).
Our mid-drive break today was Black River State Forest in Wisconsin. The trails seemed primarily developed for ATVs, the trail map didn’t match many of the visible trails, and there were many mosquitoes, so the hiking was not particularly enjoyable. Still, it was nice to see the ecosystem changing; the park certainly looked quite different from Appalachia. The hiking is not turning out to be as satisfying as I expected, but I guess I’m not giving myself much choice when I don’t want to go out of the way and I want to bring a dog.