Day 1 - Lena, IL
|Sunday, August 13, 2023: After loading the van with some last minute items, we headed north toward Chicago, seeing this U-Haul truck with the Nebraska design on the way.
|Our first stop on this first leg of the road trip was at the Global Menu McDonald's. We were thrilled to get a curbside spot just after 11:30 AM on Sunday morning.
|Rather than fries, we got the Crisscut Chips from Malaysia.
|This is the reason we were here. This is the Ebi Filet-O, a shrimp patty sandwich that we'd first had on a trip to Japan in 2008.
|We customized this with an extra shrimp patty which made it more satisfying. So delicious!
|With full bellies, we worked our way through the thick Chicago traffic toward Michigan Avenue and our next stop. We passed the very retro Ohio House on the way there.
|Here's another retro-looking hotel.
|There was plenty to see as we made our way up the street, ...
|... including this cool Burberry building.
|We arrived at our next destination, Water Tower Place, and parked in a nearby parking garage. Here's the historic water tower for which the shopping center is named.
|We headed to the second floor, where there was a line of people waiting for the LEGO Store to open.
|They opened the doors exactly at noon, and we moved quickly past the exhibit window showing a recreation of the Chicago skyline. Here's the Willis Tower, ...
|... and down to the left was a recreation of the water tower. The LEGO sign had an amazing texture, and as we got closer, we realized it was made entirely from minifigures with different color heads and matching bodies.
|It was a gigantic store, and everyone in the line easily fit in the store. Debbie went immediately to the Pick & Build wall and filled a small cup with many pieces that she hadn't seen on the wall before.
|There was a very cool dragon sculpture that protruded through the ceiling, ...
|... around the walls, ...
|... and back down near the entrance.
|Check out the loot! So many good pieces.
|With our LEGO mission completed, we decided to look around Water Tower Place a little.
|This LEGO car was at one of the street entrances.
|We were both taken with the water feature between the escalator. Doesn't that look like glass?
|Here's a closer look. The water forms a perfect cylinder from top to bottom.
|Here, you can see the holes where the water drops down to the next level, creating the cool effect.
|Back at the first floor, we paid a ridiculously high amount for our 20 minutes of parking before heading down to the van.
|As we made our way across Chicago again, we ate another item that we'd bought at the Global Menu McDonald's: a Big Tasty from Sweden. This big burger had Swiss cheese, tomato, lettuce, and Big Mac sauce. We both thought it was well named. Another item on the global menu was the Chicken Tasty from Switzerland but we just didn't have the stomach space to order it too.
|Check out the neon on this flower shop sign and the old school phone number on their marquee.
|As we headed west away from Chicago, we celebrated when we finally escaped the last of the dense traffic with the Cinnamon Creme donut that we'd bought at the Global Menu McDonald's. Like all of the donuts on the rotating menu, this is from Canada.
|As we drove through rural Illinois, we took in the religious barn art, but were surprised when there was only writing on one side of the roof. Do the people traveling the other direction not need to know where this farmer stands on this issue?
|As we drove through Lena, Illinois, we saw this plane on a pedestal outside this restaurant. We're not sure if it is a real plane or if it was something that the restaurant owners designed. It seems like it has too many wings to be real.
|It was tempting, but we managed to make it past the Lena Brewing Company's taproom as we drove by.
|Just before 3 PM, we made it to our destination for today: the Lena KOA Holiday in Lena, Illinois.
|We were assigned to site 151 in the back, but when we looked at it, the entire tent pad was at an uncomfortable slope. We headed back to the office to see if we could switch to a better site, ...
|... and since we were the only people occupying a tent site, we were able to choose our own spot. We chose site 152, which was a much better spot.
|Look at the size of this beetle that came by to help us unload the van. That's Debbie's hand for scale. Yikes!
|We got everything set up, and ate our very last items from the Global Menu McDonald's: a Cookies and Creme donut and the leftover Crisscut Chips.
|After setting up our Starlink, we streamed a few episodes of season two of "The Masked Singer" to verify that it was working. This was our first time using the Starlink, and although we were very happy with it, we still had some kinks to work out with setting it up in a wooded area.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy