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Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022

Chicago's North...
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for Illinois, Chicago
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Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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My 16 y.o. son and I road tripped down to Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA to visit family over Thanksgiving. My wife and younger son weren't with us as they flew in from Qatar after doing a World Cup foray. We left Chicagoland early Wed AM (thankfully, NO traffic issues thru Downtown Chicago) and cannonballed it down I-57 as far as we could till we got to Mt Vernon, IL to gas up…. At that point, I let my boy drive (he's on a learner's permit) to Carbondale, IL, home of Southern Illinois University and my alma mater. It took us about 5:20 hours, a record time for me. Back in the day, when the speed limit was a painful 55 MPH, and if you obeyed the law and made minimal stops, the drive was an agonizing 6.5 hours, minimum! We explored around the town and campus then went to the Student Center Bookstore and bought some Saluki souveniers…. We stopped at Mary Lou’s Diner for lunch….see my review.

We left town early afternoon and headed south on US-51, then east to Giant City State Park. This region of Illinois looks nothing like the flat cornfields further north. After a brief stop in Giant City and a climb up the water tower for a scenic panoramic view, we continued east towards I-57. My son really enjoyed driving these hilly and windy 2-lane back roads. I-24 splits off from I-57 about 10 miles south of Marion, IL. The terrain along this stretch looks more like parts of Tennessee, than Illinois. We continued south thru Paducah, then got off I-24 and hooked up with US-68 and cut across The Land Between the Lakes as my son has never seen it before. At that point, we switched and I drove back to I-24, then to Manchester, TN where we spent the night at the Quality Inn….see my review. We hit a bit of traffic in Nashville (surprising, huh?), but it wasn’t too horrible….

Next morning, we headed out, but I drove as I didn’t want him driving over Monteagle and thru Chattanooga, where it can get pretty dicey…. Shockingly, we breezed thru Chattanooga with no traffic issues…. At the first rest stop in Georgia (along I-75), we stopped and switched and he drove the rest of the way to Sandy Springs. We arrived right at lunchtime. After hanging with relatives for a few hours, I picked up my wife and other son at ATL…. While in town, we stayed at the Sonata Suites at Perimeter….see my review.

We left Sandy Springs Saturday around 9:40 AM EST, but my wife and other son wanted to fly home cuz they didn’t wanna make the long drive. Good thing because we took all their Qatar luggage and it would’ve been a tight fit in that Subaru! Anyway, I let my son drive to Calhoun, GA where we topped off and switched as I didn’t want him driving the same stretch mentioned above… We hit a TON of traffic in Chattanooga…wasted a good hour in bumper to bumper traffic. Is it alway like this on a late Saturday morning???? On this trip, I absolutely wanted to stop at the Lodge cast iron outlet store in South Pittsburgh, TN. I’ve passed by this place a half dozen times and I wanted to make sure I stopped there once and for all…see my review.

From there, I drove 6+ hours non-stop to Matoon, IL where we had a bite and gassed up for the final push home. We hit minimal traffic in Nashville, but saw a horrible crash in the southbound lanes on the I-24 bridge over the Ohio River. Traffic was backed up a good 10 miles! I did a little research, and luckily, it appears nobody was killed. Anyway, as we were heading back out to I-57 in Matoon, my son caught a glimpse of a Christmas light show, so we checked it out. It’s one of those drive-thru light shows…. It took about 25 minutes to get thru it, but it was worth it. If you’re in the area around the holidays, I definitely recommend checking it out, plus it’s free (they except donations). It’s a nice little diversion to break up the monotony of the drive. From there, he drove up to almost Kankakee, IL where we switched and I drove home in the north ‘burbs of Chicago.

Total distance driven 1800+ miles. Total drive time to home was about 15+ hours (we arrived around 11:30 PM CST), but we burned an an extra 3+ hours......in traffic, stops at the iron store and light show, and our first stop in Calhoun, which took almost a half hour. The good thing was the weather was good both ways. My wife and other son arrived home only a few hours before us. All in all, it was a long drive for only a 2 day visit, but my son got a lot of driving experience on a good variety of roads, plus he got to see my alma mater and a real college town. And **I** FINALLY got to go to that Lodge factory store!

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https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g35766-d2084761-r870074132-Mary_Lou_s_Grill-Carbondale_Illinois.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g55181-d104564-r869916381-Quality_Inn-Manchester_Tennessee.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60898-d86269-r869920655-Sonesta_ES_Suites_Atlanta_Perimeter_Center_North-Atlanta_Georgia.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g55349-d7854026-r869910907-Lodge_Factory_Store-South_Pittsburg_Tennessee.html

https://www.eventcrazy.com/Mattoon-IL/events/details/214421-Mattoon-Lightworks

16 replies to this topic
Milwaukee
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1. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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Thanks for the report ST. One question, what's a Saluki ? (just kidding)

It's great that you got to experience this with your son and let him get some long haul driving experience. In a few years he's going to want to make that drive on his own.

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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Always enjoy your trip reports! Glad your son didn't have to drive Monteagle. I don't like driving it and I am much much older.

Chicago's North...
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3. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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@przyk...yeah, I get that question sometimes.... They're pretty cool dogs, or as we usta say...."Go Dawgs!" Back in September, they played at Northwestern and actually won. My son and I (he's a huge football fan) went to that game and it was awesome! It helps that the stadium is only 15 minutes from our house.... Then a few weeks later, he went to a Bears game...luckily, it was one of the few games they won this year..... Next week should be interesting....

https://siusalukis.com/news/2022/9/17/football-upsets-northwestern-31-24.aspx

@Peach.....we haven't done many trips, let alone road trips, since COVID. Other than a road trip to Des Moines this past summer for a music festival, we haven't done much long distance driving lately...

BTW, total driving distance was actually a little over 1700 miles...my bad. I double-checked the odo this morning...

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for New Orleans
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4. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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ST, I enjoyed your report!! My son is a SIU grad, class of either 92 or 93, I'm not sure which. We visited Giant City SP this past July and also toured around SIU looking for his old housing building. The units look so much alike that he wasn't even sure he pointed out the right building! Southern Illinois is so pretty...much different than the rest of Illinois (we are from Springfield area). Glad you and your son had a good trip!!

Chicago's North...
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5. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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always great to hear from a fellow Saluki! I graduated in '85.

the dorms I stayed in (the "Triads") my frosh and sophomore year were torn down around 2012.... they were located east of the tracks, just south of the towers.... I heard the towers were supposed be torn down (very ugly buildings indeed) but that has yet to happen.... Thompson point, on campus lake, appears to be fully occupied, but the on-campus frat houses just beyond TP are mostly shuttered, or used for storage... I first noticed this 4-5 years ago during my first road trip down to Atlanta... and the on-campus married student housing, which was near the "Triads" are shuttered.... this depresses me because SIU was the 2nd largest university, behind U of I, back in the early 80's.... now, it's a shadow of its former self, tho there have been a few new buildings constructed on campus, and the library got a facelift.... but the old blue barracks, and other ratty, old buildings/barracks are still standing....

we didn't have time to see "Fat Man's Squeeze" at giant city, but at least he got to see makanda, and the road going thru the park, which is very pretty. I'd imagine it was spectacular a few weeks ago, during peak fall colors.

Edited: December 01, 2022, 1:54 am
Peachtree City...
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6. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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Thanks for the report! Tomorrow marks a year since I left on a road trip that took me through Land Between The Lakes and some of the adjoining area. I had some of the Illinois state parks on my initial route but dropped them when I increased my geographical range, since they seemed worthy of a trip on their own. Thanks for reminding me of it!

Tacoma, Washington
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7. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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How much driving did he do before this?

Vestal, New York
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8. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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Sounds like a good father/son bonding trip ... thanks for the report!

Chicago's North...
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9. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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@Dan.....he got his permit in April, a little after his 16th b-day (you're allowed to get a permit at 15, but due to some teenage attitude issues, we delayed it).... in Illinois, a learner is required to log a minium of 50 hours, ideally with some IFR time (rain/snow/night/fog etc) mixed in; and a minimum of 8 months before going for the driving test.... on this trip alone, he prolly logged 5-6 hours, with some night driving, as well as hilly 2-lane country roads, which we don't have much of in my neck of the woods... before this trip, i'd say he already logged at least 50 hours....a few months ago, he and i did a short road trip into sconny where he got to experience country roads for the first time. that trip was a coupla hours...

@scott....believe it or not, Paducah is, within a few miles, the halfway point between my house and sandy springs.... if you gun it, and not hit a ton of traffic, i bet you can make it to the shawnee in 6-7 hours... and from peach tree city, i think going via b-ham and memphis is the way to go....you miss both c-nooga and Nashville....both potential traffic nightmares.... if you go via Memphis, you'll hit the west shawnee first, where there's plenty to keep you busy for a few days... then move to the east side.... in between is the cache river swamp...i highly recommend doing the water trail.... i believe they rent canoes there...

@rjr...yeah it was. this is the first time he and i traveled alone. several years ago, i took both my boys ww rafting in sconny, but other than that, i never went with the older boy one on one...

Phoenix, Arizona
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10. Re: Trip Report--Chicago to Atlanta and back, November, 2022
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ST, Glad that you got to do a trip with your son, and also spend time with your family for Thanksgiving. Will he be following in your footsteps as a Saluki?

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