Southbound: Chicago to Memphis

Not much to report as traveling via interstate is mind-numbing and brain-dumbing, but when chasing time, it’s the best option. Yet, as I’m fond of noting, it’s always about “the places in between.” So when relegated to the traveling and following the white line tarmac—I make the time to stop, breathe and check in with the locals.

It’s amazing that the FORKS Tour Van has clocked more than 50,000 miles since it first set off from Connecticut in July 2014. The 2011 Mercedes-Benz 2500 Sprinter Cargo Van is a workhorse, and it’s easy and fun to drive. The elevated driving position and low RPM of the diesel engine make for a perfect cruise—though the cabin can be a bit noisy as sound proofing is not a priority of cargo trucks.

The Sprinter was in need of some service. A nagging check-engine light with the occasional “coughing” of the engine was concerning. The tires, new and installed in Chicago some 10,000 miles in the spring of 2015, needed rotating. After a free balance and rotation from the good crew at Discount Tire Centers in Bourbonnais, Illinois, I headed to Sullivan-Parkhill Imports, the Mercedes dealer in Champlain, Illinois, arriving nearly at closing and learning that their Sprinter specialist was out sick. Though Sullivan-Parkhill’s service manager was kind to help me change a burned-out, and recommend another Mercedes-Benz shop that could help me.

So I diverted my route to Springfield—this time in Illinois, and the state capitol. I’d been through here in 2014 during the first leg of my book tour, but I neglected to collect a photo of the FORKS Tour Van adjacent to the state capitol building. So I could take care of the van and grab the photo. Jeremy and the crew at Isringhausen Imports traced the engine light to an air filter in dire need of replacement. In just a few hours I was on the road.

In Memphis, I arranged to meet an old college girlfriend, Lois and her husband Jack shared a collection of small plates at the legendary McEwan’s on Monroe before crashing a 70’s theme party hosted by an international pharmaceutical at the infamous Peabody Hotel and then finally taking in live Memphis blues on Beale Street.




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