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Monday, December 03, 2012

Road Trip Day 13 & 14: Hammond & Home

This summer, I kept a diary of my trip across the US with my daughter to start her freshman year at college in New York -- and my return trip, too. This is my final entry, but you can read them all here.

After a good night's sleep, I check out of the Cleveland Marriott and work my way onto I-80 westbound, the only road I'll need on my five-hour drive to Hammond, Indiana (a suburb of Chicago). Halfway there, I stop for lunch and use the Priceline app on my iPhone to book a room at the Courtyard By Marriott, happy to see the price has come down another 10 bucks since I checked it online this morning.

I get to the hotel by mid-afternoon, and since I'm only planning on being here one night, I don't bother to unpack yet again. Instead, I lay down and close my eyes for a couple of hours, then get up, take a shower, and make the 20-minute drive to the Horseshoe Hammond.

Last year, I wrote a primer on this casino which I won't repeat here. Since it's Saturday, the poker room is quite busy. From past experience, I know not to expect a big PLO game (it goes on Wednesdays and Fridays), but there are four $5-10 no-limit hold'em games open, so I get a seat within a half-hour. I recognize some of the other players, including one or two who have been to St. Louis, but there are plenty of unfamiliar faces, too, so I order some soup and a sandwich (which I'll eat at the table) while I sit back and do more studying than playing for awhile. There are several "weekend warriors" here, guys who come out to drink and play and have a good time with whatever recreational dollars they can afford to lose. They're the ones I try to get into hands with, and over the course of the next 4-5 hours, they're the ones who most often are coughing up lots of chips.

Since I'm going to make another five-hour drive tomorrow to finally get back home, I cash out around midnight, happy to log another winning session after the Cleveland debacle. Back at the hotel, I don't even open my laptop, but instead collapse on the bed, feeling good.

In the morning, anxious to start the last leg of this adventure, I skip breakfast altogether and hit the road early. It's the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, so there's very little traffic. I head west on I-80 again until I hit I-55, and then go south until I reach St. Louis. Along the way, I have a lengthy cellphone conversation with my daughter, who has just finished her week of freshman orientation. We share stories about our separate adventures of the last few days, and she sounds like she has a huge smile on her face.  I do, too, and am so glad to have made the trip with her. I can't wait to hear what's in store for her over the next few months as her college life begins. 

A few hours later, I turn off the highway and into our driveway. My wife greets me with a big hug as I walk through the door, talking about how empty the house felt for the last two weeks. I tell her that, while I had a good time, I'm happy to be back, and make her promise that we'll only eat at home for a few days. 

She jokes that she was just about to whip up a batch of lobby waffles.

Total Mileage over 14 days: 2,539.