6:00 P.M.ish, August 16, 2001
At first glance, you’d think Mishawaka, Illinois, is the type of place you’d hide out if you were a fugitive from justice. But it’s more like the kind of place where you’d decide to turn yourself in. I am sure I am being unfair to some Edenic corner of Mishawaka where the beer is cold, the waitresses are cheery, and the property values aren’t in free-fall. But we couldn’t find it. From everything we saw, Mishawaka is greasy, bleak, and sorely in need of a crack epidemic to get its name back in the news. (For Dune fans, think of it as a suburb of the Harkonen capital city on Giedie Prime).
Doug and I are hardly squeamish about cheap hotels. But when we drove up to the Mishawaka Days Inn — where I’d booked a room over the web because it was listed as “dog-friendly” — we both made long, grumbly sounds like 1950s construction workers whose wives had just served them meatloaf for the ninth consecutive dinner.
The marquee out front just said “We come,” the “L” missing but not missed by the management. The description on the web said the Mishawaka Days Inn is on the banks of a creek, which sounded good for Sir Sniffs-A-Lot. We saw no creek. We didn’t get out of the car long enough to find it. We decided that Mishawaka wasn’t for us. Cosmo chuffed in agreement.
We doubled back to another hotel we saw on the way into Mishawaka. At first I thought it looked promising because guests could get to the rooms without going through a lobby. But when we drove through the parking lot, there were a lot of dudes who looked like they’d be more comfortable spitting on people like me from the top tier of their cell block.
Doug’s been doing most of the driving, which is cool with me so long as it’s cool with him. After our Escape from Mishawaka, we had to try four or five motels before they would take a Canine-American. We found a Super 8 outside downtown South Bend (off Route 31). The floors were sticky. Cosmo sniffed at the floor, offered a muffled yipe, and jumped up into bed with me.
But generally, Cosmo digs life on the road. [Click for Trip Pics.] Where else can he get the best of both worlds?
6:14 A.M., August 17, 2001
We are already on the road. Our first stop is Dunkin’ Donuts because we are only human.
Our second stop is the Indiana Dunes Lakeshore. The gate was closed but we drove around because we’re badasses. This was Cosmo’s first trip to any beach and he really dug it. He seemed to think sand was snow and went a little bonkers, like Bill Clinton stumbling on a busload of interns. Lake Michigan is really cool. Seems like it should be a sea and not a lake. Someone, will let me know why it isn’t. The beach would be truly beautiful if it weren’t for a massive factory further down the shore.
Back on the road. Illinois traffic is awful. I hate Illinois traffic the same way Jake and Ellwood hate Illinois Nazis. [Be sure to click for Trip Pics.] While we’re stuck in traffic, I should deal with some substance. First of all, thanks to everyone who has sent in a tip or suggestion. We’ve acted on more than a few. It feels like we have friends all over America. On the other hand. For those of you who don’t want to read about this trip, I have a fascinating solution for you. Rather than write me saying “this is boring” or “why are you wasting my time?” you could, well, I don’t know, not read any of it. I mean no one forces you to click on this column.
Secondly, my column about Israel has generated a phenomenal amount of asinine e-mail (and a lot of friendly e-mail, too). Of course, I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. But, a lot of it is beyond the pale. Let me just offer one clarification. When I said Israel’s moral claim to its land was stronger than, say, Texas’ claim to its own land, I was not saying that Texans should give it back or anything like that. America seized its land the same way countless Indian tribes got theirs before we took it from them. In turn, America is perhaps the greatest gift the world could have received. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t recognize a few other facts. We really did screw the Indians — on numerous occasions. We took their land, we broke our treaties, we moved them around, and then moved them again. I agree that the sanctification of the American Indian is often more than a little absurd. But, that doesn’t mean we should deny the truth just because we don’t like the complaining.
Another fact that seems incomprehensible to a certain irreducible number of people who can’t think clearly about Israel is this: Just because I think Israel’s claim to its land is stronger than that of Texas, that doesn’t mean I’m more “loyal” to Israel than I am to America. I think the Swedes have a much better claim to their land than either the Americans or Israelis do, but that doesn’t mean I’m more loyal to the Sweden than I am to the U.S. I don’t think the charge of “dual loyalty” is automatically anti-Semitic like a lot of people do. There are people about whom you can say such things and not be anti-Semitic. But calling me more loyal to Israel than the United States based upon anything I’ve ever written or said is fairly batty and reveals, I think, a certain eagerness to leap to such conclusions with little care for the facts.
Okay, back to the road trip. I’ve gotten a zillion requests for more pictures. They are on the way, but right now I have to go. In the meantime, see if you can guess what and where this is. [Remember to click for trip Pics.]
Click here for Day 1.