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Errands and Miscellaneous09 Aug 2008 12:15 pm

A romantic drive in the country awaits me today. But first, hell.

The bike is not part of this discussion today. We have to be at Northern Illinois University for the 8:45 AM orientation start but I’m aiming for 8:15 AM because I’m Germanic. We actually hit the road at 6:40 and the western sky is a very dark gray. 65 miles in an hour and a half is do-able, right?

In a past life of consulting, I did numerous projects in the Western Suburbs especially Oak Brook area, so my trip down the Tri-State Tollway I-294 from Dempster is familiar territory. Thankfully, the Dempster southbound ramp is open again and the Tri-State is moving. My son looks to the west and remarks humorously on the sky that is now nearly the shade of charcoal. Blending onto I-88, the sky darkens and begins to fill with some very dramatic forky lightning and soon the rain starts to come down much like the trickle-down economics of Ronald Reagan, for whom I-88 is named. And like the Reagan era, things just continued to get worse.

The rain is hard and the traffic is slow and bumper-to-bumper through the extended construction zone almost to Elgin. Only there does traffic begin to clear and we reach expressway speeds with the clock nearing 8 AM. With the drizzle still coming down, we barely made it to NIU at 8:40 AM. I cannot for the life of me imagine a daily car commute under these conditions. Surely I can millions with an Internet business that allows me to work at home without keeping an inventory of valuable overstock.

The campus tour is well-organized and upbeat and led by cheerful, charming student guides. I know they have the Huskie bus lines around campus enabling students to make do without cars. What I didn’t know was that they offer free loaner bikes to students for two-week checkout much like a library book. OK, let’s see if my son takes advantage of that.

The day’s orientation ends around 4 PM and after some calls and administrivia on campus, we head home. I cannot face I-88 again and opt to drop off some borrowed brick samples in Hampshire, Illinois to the north. Despite the detour along two-lane back roads through corn and soybeans, we make good time.

There’s not a bike to be seen. There are more subdivisions cropping up here and there along 47. I think there’s actually a Metra stop near Elburn, though.

It is a pleasant drive in the country, though, and I still enjoy tooling along the back roads.

Reality is soon upon me as I re-enter the Tollway system at 47 onto I-90 eastbound. No jams, I’m happy to say. My son comments on the pretty green of the Fox River Valley as we cross over it. Short-lived nature gives way to office parks and subdivisions and vinyl siding and massive electrical towers and swaths of concrete and lawn and fast food and shopping. I bail out at Ikea onto 53 for drive east through Arlington Heights on Euclid and Lake.

OK, good to have some variety. I could never cover this much territory on my bike in this time.

I could never put up this every day.

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