by Dhruv Jagan, 9th Grade, St. Johns High School
Once upon a time, there were these 2 parents who had this crazy idea to drive across the country. Well, these 2 parents just happened to be mine! It happened just a few weeks ago, this summer of 2021. At first, I didn’t really want to go because I wanted to hang out with my friends here in my neighborhood. But after my mom told me that the scenery would be nice, and I could see some cool new places and, of course, the added incentive that I could use the pools at the places we would stay, I decided to go.
I looked at the map that my father showed and the trip looked LOONNGG! We were going to take the Oregon Trail that traverses the north of the country starting from Massachusetts all the way to Oregon. We were going beyond Oregon to see my aunt in San Francisco. Basically, we had to cover the full 3,000 miles. To do that we decided we needed to drive around 8 hours every day. We also made sure to be flexible and have an open mind to accommodate my 3-year-old sister, Uruvi’s patience for the ride.
STOP 1: NIAGARA FALLS
Our first stop: Niagara Falls. When we reached Niagara Falls, we were stayed at this hotel called “Aarya Hotel,” which had an outdoor pool. We were excited to go and play in it. We rested, and the next day, we went to see Niagara Falls. I remember looking at it from the Canadian side, but this time, we looked at it from the American side. The first time I saw the falls I was amazed by Mother Nature! Having seen many smaller falls, this fall reminded me of the impact of the power of Mother Nature. We were about to leave, when my mom decided we should experience the Maid of the Mist ride. I was a bit skeptical about going because I had no idea what to expect. The last time I went on it was when I was 7 years old, so I didn’t remember what it was like. But my mom didn’t give us a choice, so we went. The next thing I knew, I was standing on the top deck of the boat. When we were on the boat, I felt a surge of happiness as we went near the falls and got super wet. It was really refreshing on that hot day. Even Uruvi liked it! I had never expected that we would go so close to the falls! We were so close to the falls that the whole boat was engulfed in mist. I couldn’t see anything but mist around me!! There were moments where I felt like I was in a whole different world.
Next stop: The windy city, Chicago!
This article is part of a series that details my experiences on our cross-country road trip across the different states.
STOP 2: CHICAGO
Our last night at Niagara Falls, I did a Google maps search of the distance between Niagara Falls and Chicago. 556 miles, 8.5 hours! The big question; will Uruvi be able to handle going to Chicago as well? She was enjoying the car ride and she was overall comfortable. She was also happy and excited, and she didn’t want to go back home because of the swimming pools. Knowing my mom, I was dead sure that she would say “If we start something, we should finish it”. So as I guessed sitting on that hotel bed, without thinking twice, she decided we are going to continue. We got in the car, ready to head to Chicago. I was mainly excited to go because my elementary school teacher and our former neighbor, who is from Chicago, had recommended an awwesssome place to eat the world-famous Chicago style deep dish pizza!
The drive was uneventful nature-wise as we didn’t see much scenery on this part of the car drive compared to the last one. But it was still fun to see different cars and trucks. We even played a game called the word game, where someone starts with with a random word, and the next person has to say a word that starts with the last letter of the word that the person said before. It was fun, but it got boring after a while. Totally not because I couldn’t find some words….J Anyhow, I was watching YouTube on the iPad when we had to take a break to eat. We all didn’t know what to eat, so we just got quick subs from Subway. When we arrived at our hotel, we saw that there was this very nice Mexican restaurant just across from our hotel called “La Fogata.” We arrived late, so we ate there.
The next morning, my mom had another 5-hour meeting which she needed to attend undisturbed . My dad saw this natural history museum near us, so we decided to go there. We arrived and it took us a while to find it (somehow) because it was a little bit hidden. We paid for our tickets, and as soon as we entered, it was like a WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD. There were so many dinosaur skeletons, bugs and beetles, and even an underground, ancient Egyptian maze! We first saw all different kinds of bugs and beetles. They were all so creepy and crawly, I would probably get nightmares if one of them came into my bed. After that, we wanted to go see a presentation about history, but you had to pay again to go through it, so we just went through the Egyptian maze. It showed us many things including King Tut’s golden covered tomb, how they built the pyramid, and more! After that, the gem exhibit. This one contained all the different kinds of gems, shiny, and non-shiny. I personally liked the ruby and the blue sapphire the most, since they were my favorite colors. My brother liked the diamond and, well, my sister liked everything! We didn’t want to eat there, so we went to this very big hall, in which many people were taking pictures with dinosaur skeletons that couldn't fit in the normal exhibit. There was a giant brachiosaurus and a T-rex.
When we arrived back, my mom had set us up for a boat ride at the Navy Pier, which was just going to do a big circle in Lake Michigan. I was a bit tired from the museum, but my mom dragged me out. When we arrived there, we got onto the boat and saw an amazing view of Lake Michigan. It didn’t take long before the boat was on its way. When we were about halfway through the sail, the sun was setting, and we saw the amazing skyline of Chicago. At that exact moment, my friends facetimed me!! I answered and told them I was on a boat, and I also showed them the skyline. They told me that it looked sick and told me don’t drop the phone.
At the end of the day, we decided to have some yummy, mouthwatering deep-dish pizza at this place called Gino’s Pizza. It was recommended by my 4th grade teacher and former neighbor, Mrs. Spangenberg, who hails from Chicago. You could actually write your names on the wall, so no one can forget that you were there. My father kept listening to songs from the Blues brothers, an old time Hollywood classic which highlights Chicago with the song “Sweet Home Chicago”. I kinda liked the tune but after a few times I was done! And that, my friends, is what we did, in the amazing city of Chicago.
Next stop: Sioux Falls