Matt Forney
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Notes from the Road: From Chicago to Milwaukee with Fatigue


What’s the longest a human being can go without sleep? I have no idea, but I know the longest can go without sleep is about four days, mainly because that’s when I start getting Lost Weekend-style hallucinations and passing out whenever I sit down. All the sucky parts of tripping balls, none of the fun.

If you want your kids to get their sleep, that’s what you should tell them: “Go to bed, or you’ll start seeing visions of Cthulhu everywhere you turn and the walls will start warping whenever you look at them for more than two seconds!”

The backstory: even though I was hanging around Chicago for another day to go to Pitchfork, I opted to check out of the hostel because they had jacked their rates up in anticipation (going from something like $28 a day to $50). Rather than attempt to hitch out of the suburbs of northern Chicagoland in a stupor, I coughed up $9 for an early-morning Greyhound to Milwaukee. Unfortunately, an hour-and-a-half bus ride wasn’t enough to catch the requisite shuteye.

That was only the beginning.

I’d planned to resume hitching out of Beertown, but quickly realized that I’d run into the same problem I’d have if I’d done it in Chicago: a gigantic suburban sprawl which was bad for hitching, requiring me to walk all the way through until I found a spot sufficiently rural to throw my thumb out. Or take a taxi and pay through the nose. Since another Greyhound to Madison was only $15, I decided fuck it and handed over my ATM card. Without getting too detailed, I spent most of the next half-week as a near-zombie, mindlessly shuffling between coffeeshops in search of brains iced tea and free WiFi.

In any event, here are some pictures from the last couple weeks.

Logan Square, Chicago, Illinois

The sketchy side of Logan Square, a Chicago neighborhood midway through gentrification. Here, you can watch mustachioed, muscle-bound Puerto Ricans mutter in Spanish to their amigos while mustachioed, muscle-less hipsters zoom past on their ten-speed bikes. The eastern end has some cool cafes and coffeeshops, but do yourself a favor and don’t get too far from the Blue Line.

Wicker Park, Chicago, Illinois

A rabbit merrily hopping around in Wicker Park, just southeast of Logan Square and further along the gentrification track. Call me provincial, but the Midwest has a lot of fucking bunny rabbits. In New York, the only time you’ll ever see rabbits is out in the country, usually dead on the road, but this one got within five feet of where I was hanging out, unfazed by my/our talking, eating and making loud noises. Madison has even more rabbits; in fact, there are more rabbits here than squirrels.

Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois

Lincoln Park, where the yuppies dwell. Expect to pay an arm and a leg if you want to have a good time.

Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois

Wrigley Field. The Cubs were out of town when I was there, but I hate baseball, so it’s not like I would have gone to a game anyway.

Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois

Insert your own joke here.

Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois

Disgusting cockroaches at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois

Giraffes. Now that’s more like it. For the price ($0.00), I’m not complaining too much, but I wish I’d gotten to see the polar bears and sea lions.

The Loop, Chicago, Illinois

Another shot of the city I got after leaving Pitchfork. The Loop is where the Sears Willis Tower and other famous Chicago landmarks are located, but it’s deserted after dark save for night cleaning crews and bums. I’m not exaggerating when I say the Loop is absolutely infested with bums at night. You’ll find them sleeping in front of storefronts, under bridges and next to newspaper kiosks. Shockingly, the cops tolerate this, perhaps because they have better things to do.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Downtown Milwaukee, or at least as much of it as I could see on the way to Miller Valley. I have almost no memory of the countryside between Chicago and Milwaukee because I spent most of it passed out.

Miller Valley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The edge of Miller Valley, also known as “Heaven.” Not only does Miller provide free tours of their brewery, they give you free samples of beer at the end.

Miller Valley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Inside the brewery. The tour lasts about an hour and takes you from the brewery proper to distribution, Frederick Miller’s own secret beer caves, and finally to the Miller Inn for a free glass of Miller Lite. You also get a second free sample at a pavilion across the street; they have everything from Miller High Life to their more exotic blends.

This post is getting too long, so I’ll talk about Madison next week. As of right now, I’m planning on heading to Des Moines tomorrow. See ya on the road.

Read Next: Notes from the Road: How to Cross Six States in Eight Days