Neither of us wanted to get up today as it meant we had to say goodbye to our beloved RV Bertha. The old girl had got us from Los Angeles through deserts, mountains, wind, rain, snow and salt flats to Chicago. She had been on the Las Vegas strip, through the smoke of a forest fire and even beached at a drive-in cinema. Bertha was only a rental but we wanted to her keep her. We unhooked her from the good stuff one last time, emptied her tanks and refilled the gas and water. We still had a small amount of steak left over from Saturday night in Green Bay. It made one matured delicious steak sandwich. We ate as much as we could of the perishables leaving only snacks and half an Eli’s cheesecake. The non perishables and general RV items we gave to the KOA campsite for them to use. We were always finding useful items people had donated or left behind for others who might be running low and it seemed only right we did the same. Emma was a hero and packed up everything while I sorted out the gas and plan for the day.
We didn’t have much on the list to do itself as we were taking Bertha back and checking into our hotel for a couple of nights. We typed in the address of Cruise America gave us to take the RV back to and in typical fashion it was wrong. Not a little bit wrong either, the address was five miles north of where it should have been. It took us 45 minutes to find it only after we had done three loops of the local area and stopped to look it up on our phone. At one point we were lost in a one way system in the wrong airport rental car park without a pass to exit and had to wait until airport security asked us what we were doing before escaping through a bus exit. This episode we found in keeping with the poor service from Cruise America. When we did finally get to Cruise America I phoned a cab and were told that she was in the same condition as when we picked her up but they were charging us for fuel. The people in LA had told us that as she was low on fuel we could bring her back the same way. The manager of the Chicago branch disagreed and we were charged for an eighth of a tank of fuel anyway. Pretty pathetic really. We are now stuck with a US satnav we have no use for but it was worth its weight in gold while we were using it. It got us through 4500 miles of US roads without sending us off a canyon or into a river. As ee unloaded the bags and an employee started washing Bertha; Emma got a bit choked up. We had given the RV a personality and now had to say goodbye. We made it quick, didn’t look back and waited on the curb for the taxi like a pair of hobos.
We got an expensive cab back into the city to our hotel ‘Chicago’s Essex Inn’. Before leaving the UK I had printed out two copies of all the bookings we had made so I had paperwork for everything. This didn’t matter to the staff of Chicago’s Essex Inn though as we did not exist on their system. Despite having the confirmation email with their booking code and payment proof, they had no idea who we were. After 15 minutes of discussion and the staff claiming there was nothing they could do they eventually folded, photocopied the confirmation emails and checked us in. The front desk staff were not helpful at all and at one point even suggested my print out of the confirmation was forged. We went up to our room to find it was clearly the spare room. The sheets smelled as though they had been there weeks waiting for an unfortunate situation like this. We relaxed in the room for a bit but the confrontation with the hotel staff had bothered me. We ate some cheesecake and started packing for the flight home. We still had another day until the flight back to London but it was never too early to start. As the sun set and we headed out to Giordano’s a few blocks away on West Jackson Boulevard humming ‘That’s Amore’ as we went.
Girodano’s was one of two restaurants that pioneered the stuffed pizza Chicago is famous for. The stuffed pizza is deeper than a deep dish pizza and is more of a pie. The crust is halfway between a pie crust and pizza crust with the toppings on the inside and the tomato sauce on the top.
The pizza pie was beyond delicious. It was like pizza…… in a pie! We shared one between us and couldn’t finish it. I weren’t feeling too good, I suspected the four day old steak had not gone down well with my body, so we had the remaining pie boxed to eat later. As we left Giordano’s things went a bit pear shaped and by the time we walked to the Skydeck for a viewing it was red alert in the gut department. You can imagine my horror when we turned to find that yet another Chicago business had not updated their website with changed opening times meaning it had shut 15 minutes before we arrived. Left with nowhere to go to the toilet and an imminent disaster we virtually ran back to Giordano’s. I made it with seconds to spare and while I sobbed my heart out in the toilets Emma people watched the patrons of the restaurant ranging from the druggie who came in to eat a burger he had bought at a fast food restaurant down the road to a drunk guy stumbling in barely able to stand let alone eat something.
After I emerged from the toilets we headed back to the Essex Inn and a quiet night. I blamed the 4 day old steak we used for sandwiches and crossed off the evening photoshoot we had planned on North Avenue Beach. Emma consoled herself with a marathon of Mountain Men and some more cheesecake.