We started our journey by traveling through to western Illinois, stopping in the "Hometown" of Ronald Regan. ... Only to be trumped by the "Birthplace" of Ronald Regan, 15 miles down the road... To be honest, I was expecting to see a landmark in some field signifying the location where the Gipper got to second base.
Lebowski was nice enough to stay up with me though nearly the entire drive, sitting on the back seat, head looking out the passenger window. Three hours into the drive, he discovered that he had enough room to sprawl out and relax in the back of the element. No small trick considering he had to share the back with an XL Moonlander (to preserve the slippery aerodynamic of the Honda Element)
The hotel, a Days Inn, was certainly dated. The staff, was friendly and made no issues that Lebowski clearly exceeded the 'pet policy' by a solid 90lbs.
The guests, that was another matter. I met a few people exiting from the 'Lounge'... blind drunk, from the conversation shouted to the bartender, this appeared to be a regular occurrence. The following morning, while walking Lebowski, I met a man who was in town for training at the hardware distribution center. He polished off two cigarettes during our short conversation. He was a few years older than I, but looked a few decades older.
Leaving Western Illinois before dawn, I was stuck in with the impression that this was a place that either prompted you to leave to seek the your potential of Hollywood or Washington, or stay... I realize that it's not fair to judge an entire region based on a few encounters.
We hit the road west, venturing into Iowa.