Day 13: Bourbonnais to Wyandot Service Plaza, Ohio Turnpike
We said our farewells to the Kankakee River and Bourbonnais today. After breakfast, I immersed myself in reviewing and calculating the budget with our emergency expenses, while the others packed their belongings and washed the clothing that had been soaked in the rain yesterday evening. We checked out of the hotel by 1100 hours.
The Tour Loaf repairs were still being finishing up, so we stopped at a bakery cafe (Panera) to eat an early midday meal while we waited. To accommodate the Ugly Bear, we sat on the patio under an umbrella. It was just large enough to shield three and a half of the four crew members when another surprise heavy rain hit us (Magoon was the unlucky one). Relative to our other troubles, the rain was comically insignificant, and during a break in the rains a short time later, we escaped to the space minivan in relatively high spirits.
I have neglected to describe the space van for the last two days. Our second rental vehicle due to the RV breakdown is a black Chrysler Pacifica ("the most technologically advanced minivan in its class"). Its features for space travel include its sleek aerodynamic design, automatic sliding doors, bluetooth audio and digital displays, and a child-safety mirror for the driver, that swivels down separately from the rear view mirror. Magoon has, over the past few days, affected a particular persona when we are entering the vehicle, with assertions such as, "Come on kids, we're gonna be late for soccer practice!" I finished our budget calculations while we waited at the dealership in large yellow rocking chairs. Rain continued to beat down on the ceiling. Once the sun had reemerged, the repairs were complete! We loaded back into the Tour Loaf and departed at 1330 hours, stopping at the Enterprise dealership to return the space van. We were on the road out of Bourbonnais by 1430 hours.
Our relief at being back on the road was short-lived, as new difficult decisions quickly surfaced. Magoon received a call from Rochester. We were being offered a short television spot on Spectrum news at 1330 hours tomorrow. The question was: could we traverse the road between here and New York in that short time? We calculated several times. One hour to wake up and refuel. One hour for a pit stop (refuel, walk the Ugly Bear, check engine oil, use facilities and refill water bottles). One hour for the crew to shower before the interview performance. Eight hours for sleep, and nine hours of road to cross. The numbers didn't add up. In the middle of our deliberations and twenty miles outside of Bourbonnais, our engine service light turned on.
Having canceled our show in Pittsburgh and missed a radio spot in Rochester already, we badly wanted to make the television interview. We calculated once more, leaving showering out of the equation and reducing the planned sleeping time to six hours. The numbers made sense this time, so we tentatively confirmed the television interview.
Based on our experience with an exhausted Captain driving at night in St. Louis, I researched a few options for where we could stop for the night. The options straddled Cleveland, Ohio, which would break the trek to Rochester slightly unevenly based on when the Captain began to feel tired. In the end, we did not utilize either of my planned stops. Before we had reached the first, dusk began to fall on the Ohio Turnpike, and the Captain noted that the dashboard lights were not functioning (a new development). We pulled into the next Service Plaza, called Wyandot. Miraculously, we arrived before the sun had completely set, and confirmed that not only were the dashboard lights malfunctioning, but the exterior running lights - everything except the brake lights - would not light either.
We found ourselves fortunately in the best possible place to be stranded until first light. Wyandot sported an RV camping area, with electrical hookups, for a much more affordable price than most campgrounds I had researched ($20). We plugged in at 2130 hours. There was a food court inside, along with restrooms and a coffee shop. We ate rice, bean, and cheese burritos and french fries and introduced Molhy to Wynonna Earp before going to sleep around 1130 hours. By our calculations, we would need to be up at first light and encounter no setbacks tomorrow to make our television interview in Rochester.