Its Monday 26th July 2010, 12.48pm, and I’m sat in Chicago O’Hare airport, my flight isn’t until 6pm but I’m here anyway, I can check in at 3 at least, the check out time for the hotel was at 10am, and car had to be back at 1pm before extra costs were incurred, and lastly all thoughts are of getting home now so have no desire to fill the time with anything else, well not quite… . I don’t have a blog nor do I want one but thought I’d take this void in time to note down the explosion of thoughts that have occurred over the last 72 hours. I’ve yet to decide if I’ll even post this anywhere, it may get discovered years after my demise (when I’m frozen) and it will offer an interesting insight into life in 2010, or I may post it tomorrow, where though I have no idea.
I’ve been dreaming of seeing the states since I was probably about 14 (i.e. ages ago), year in year out built that desire to greater and greater monumental levels, but only since finishing uni had that chance become feasible. As a HUGE Montoya fan it seemed stupid not to combine it with the chance to see him race again, it was 2006 since he was last and Silverstone, and where better than the home of American racing at the Indianapolis Motor speedway! Plus year in year out he always go well there, so seemed to be a good plan! Initially I thought about staying in Indy, but Chicago is down the road so stayed there. Chicago has always held a fascination to me; I have a secret interest in 30s America and what better encapsulates that than the Chicago prohibition era, the glam, the art deco, Al Capone etc. This originally spawned from watching The untouchables in probably about 1990, I saw it underage courtesy of my cousin and from then I was hooked on the place, I even bought Midtown Madness on the PC so I could drive around the city in all weathers.. Sad I know.
So a plan was hatched, Chicago and Indy in one hit, a decade of anticipation had built up to this, everything id ever seen in a movie I was itching to experience, I didn’t care for galleries and such I wanted to the everyday things, go to a Mall, a Target store, a 7-11, stop at stop signs, buy a slurpee, have a hotdog from a street stand etc, all silly stuff but there we go. I found a cheapish hotel, okish flights and bit the bullet, I will admit it would have been my least desirable option to do all this alone but needs must and I was sure I’d be far too busy to dwell!
Leaping forward in time there I was, standing, waiting in line in customs, my feet were stood, stood firmly on American soil, even if I was sent home now I thought, I’ve done it, I’m here! After an age I was through, unleashed upon America! What to do first!? Well that was easy, go get the car, leaving the airport I was hit by a raging inferno of heated humidity, this wasn’t Southern France, Spain type heat, this was 90% humidity with a heat index of 44 degs, I deemed this a suitable moment to take off my hoody… . Arriving at Hertz I was told there was no convertible, even though id booked one, but was given the option of anything they had on site. So there I was first time driving on the left in a bright red, brand new, super charged, Chevrolet Camaro V8…
The afternoon of the first day was spent doing the things I’d been longing to do, I went shopping at a ‘store’, I went and devoured the whole range available at a Taco Bell, I found a 7-11 and had a Twinkie, all that kind of stuff! I also visited the Volo Car museum, the draw? An Ecto 1 replica, it was thewrong coach builder model, but still it’s the first time I’ve seen any sort of quality replica so to see quite how big and cool they were was good. There was lots else to see, but to be honest you might as well just visit their site if you want to know what there was. Driving around all I can say is thank god for air con!! Oh and Mountain Dew is my new favourite drink!
The day spent in Chicago was epic, the weather was awesome, the place is stunning and I saw Transformers 3 being filmed! Originally I planned on getting a tour bus, but setting off on foot I decided to spend the day doing it that way, all part of the living it aspect and not just a tourist. I found several Untouchable shooting locations easily which was slightly surreal, I visited the Navy Pier, bit tacky but great views, millennium park was amazing, the bean thing was impressive and the peoples fountain thing with everyone wadding in it and big faces (look it up) etc was great! It’s a fab city and would recommend it to anyone, it perfectly fitted my interest in 30’s America.
Its easy to see why the brits are seen as rude, you get whole hearted deepest apologies and thanks for the most minimal of things, nearly bumping trolleys (yes trolley like supermarket trolley, NOT a tram) when shopping got a ‘oh my goodness I’m sorry’ followed by a smile and moving on. In UK I think you’d get an ‘ugh’ and shuffle past. Saying that, the ‘have a nice day’ continuously can grind a bit. Also its odd how many people have no idea of accents ‘Oooo are you Australian?’ Um no ‘Are you Irish?’ Um are you a retard?! And just trying to get them to understand the queen’s English can be a struggle in itself, but it was all entertaining!
Speaking of shops, yes they’re big, but they’re empty, empty of people, empty of stock, I don’t mean bare bones, but whilst Americans are probably used to them, the ones I went into (BestBuy, Target, Toys R US, Kmart, Lowes, Menards etc) probably had no more on offer than all UK shops just spread very thinly across the shelves, if I saw shelves like that in UK its normally a store that’s on brink of shutting down. Still I was content finding a hotwheels delorean 🙂
Back at the hotel with my prize goodies I devoured all I could, I was impressed with the Holiday inn, cheap but couldn’t have asked for more, quick service, HUGE bed, view out across Chicago, fridge, ice, the usual. Was nice to get back and think the day through!
The day at Indy first involved a road trip of 190 miles. There is no doubt that I fell in love with the Camaro, it’s a gorgeous looking thing, pulled like train, and rode like er… something that rides well. It was comfy, smooth and a pleasure, if they did RHD ones id be tempted, the only down side… a best of 16mpg..! American roads are shit, pure and simple, I think basically there’s just too much of it to keep on top off, I’m never complaining about uk pot holes again, in places here there can’t have even been technically and road left for there to be a hole in! The expanse of tarmac was just left to its own causes I think, it was common to dodge round tyres sitting in the middle of the fast lane (will get to that in a min), I don’t think any lines ever get repainted as most were nonexistent which made it hard work and all the signs were just confusing. That being said Claire (that’s what I named the Camaro) kept me on the short and narrow, didn’t really get to stretch her legs much though, that fact every taxi looks like a police car didn’t help!!
Driver etiquette was confusing, there was very very very little speeding, even with no cop cars, no cameras, nearly everyone behaved, perhaps they weren’t in a rush? Lol. But lane behaviour was odd, perhaps there isn’t a fast or slow lane etc, it definitely appeared like a free for all! I stuck to the inside (outer right) and just hoped for the best. Finally driving on wrong side of car was easy enough as have done it before but many a time I managed to drop the right hand side of on the verge!!
Indy was like a carnival, LOADS of people and lots of food, drink and music. Seeing JPM again race gave me goosebumps, and yes I’ll admit when he took the lead my eyes welled slightly, it’s the lack of this emotion that makes F1 rather dull for me at the moment. But none the less he was on epic form, I won’t expand much on this day as to be honest it was a crap, the rowdy inbreds around me made it clear they wanted a hilly billy to win, I was glad I wasn’t wearing my JPM tshirt in the end. After moving 4 times and having to endure swearing, jibes, Columbian taunts and loudly cursing ‘shit F1’ (I was in my RF1 tshirt) all aimed at the fact it looked like JPM was going to win, once he hit the wall and the crowd cheered, jeered and mocked some more I split, id lost interest and hit the car park for an easy get away before the race finished. A tip to these low life’s, stay in school beyond 12 years old, it works wonders…! Unfortunately, even if it means cutting of my nose to spite my face I will no longer have any active interest in NASCAR, zero part of me wants to follow a series along with these barnyard imbeciles. If you think I’m sounding too dramatic it’s only because you didn’t have the displeasure of their company (apparently when you finish a beer you throw your can at the track, anyone remember Indy GP 2005 issue? I can only assume it’s the same sort of group of pinheads). I will still and always will, support JPM, but will now follow his progress from afar, I will still wear his hat in support (mainly because it cost me $20!) but that’s it, NASCAR is no longer part of me.
I may have picked a bad crowd (cheapo seats?) but impressions were made, and impressions last. I think now I will have to reengage my Dario interest back into 6st gear, bit mixed on the current situ with IRL at moment, but we will see. I was going to attend another NASCAR round later in year, but as I’ve said to someone, I’d rather stick hot pins in my eyes now. So, time to have a look at the IRL calendar and make a decision! 😀 East or West coast one most likely.
So here I am, back in airport, 4 days later, a dream fulfilled, having poured a whole litre of strawberry milkshake down my legs, over my bag, and suitcase though it’s a fitting end to the shite part. The first few days I would do again in an instant and indeed still have a plan to visit US in a few months, California this time, YES more movie locations to visit! But as I say Chicago was amazing, I will upload the photos soon and it’ll be clear to see what a beautiful city it is!! The last 36 hours I will forget about, I tend to be slightly OTT but that’s how it is, my highs are high and my lows are low. I will always wear my Chicago hoody with fond memories, the Brickyard 400 tshirt on the other hand I threw in the bin on the way out of Indy. The JPM hat though will be part of me more than anything, good luck with the racing JPM! I will miss you…