Chicago Trip 2004(last updated on 2014/01/06)

I went to Chicago for an interview with a company in Chicago. They are looking for an engineer.

2004/09/19: Driving to Lawrence

I called up my friend who live in Lawrence few days back. Driving to Chicago takes such a long time (12 hours) so I decided to drive about 2 hours for the first day to reduce the time required to drive on the next day. In Wichita, I went to pick up a car at Hertz Rental Car at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport around 3:45pm. The car I got this time was a 2004 Mazda 6. I have never driven any Mazda made cars so I thought it would be a good time to try it out. After returning to the house, I loaded the items needed for the trip. I left Wichita around 4:20pm. It should take me driving about three hours to Lawrence. I drove on the Kellogg to the east to get on the I-35, Kansas Turnpike then heading to Lawrence.

Driving on the Turnpike

Impression about this car:

The car has very much a sports car like handling, so the initial steering angle is very large and very sensitive. It took me a while to get adjusted for that unique characteristics. Otherwise, the car runs smooth, with plenty of torque and horsepower so I never felt uncomfortable driving it. The A/C works pretty well (or maybe too well), and the instrument panel can be illuminated in red so it was easy on the eyes in the night. The notable thing about this car is that the silver rings around tachometer and speedometer, which reflects the arms' positions right by the markings of the gauges. It helped me reading the speed a lot. The other thing I liked about this car was the "Sport AT automatic shift", which let you choose the gear by shifting the stick to +/- positions. The inside is roomy and very quiet on the highway, and I think the audio system automatically adjust the volume also. And at last and the most, the car can go about 500miles for a tank of gas,  so I needed to pump very few times on my 1,600miles trip.

Zoom-zoom! (maybe...)

I have been to Lawrence quite few times so I knew the way and arrived at his apartment around 6:40pm. the cost of using the toll road was $4.60. My friend and I went to have dinner at Chipotle Mexican Grill, around 7:00pm. He wanted to check my Mazda out so I let him drove. As I expected, he also liked it. I think Mazda did good job making this car. On the way back, we stopped at Hy-Vee Food Store to buy breakfast for tomorrow. I bought a box of cereal bars (which came in handy while I was driving on the road and get hungry). I fuel the car. I drove 170miles today and consumed 6.372 gallon, meaning that the car had about 26.7mpg, not bad for the car in this size. Came back to the apartment by 8:00pm, chat a bit, reviewed materials related to the product of the company which I am getting an interview with and I slept.

2004/09/20: Driving to Chicago

I woke up around 6:00am. Washed my face and had breakfast.

Let's go!

At 6:40am, I left my friend's apartment, drove on Turnpike to Kansas City, paid $1.60 at the last toll station. There were construction works so I was detoured but don't recall which road I took, the highway system in Kansas City is not simple as in Wichita. Anyway, I arrived there around 7:20am, continued heading I-35 to the north. The road was not so bad but I kept going about 5 to 7 mph above the speed limit to follow the traffic. I don't need a ticket. The road has a series of rolling hills so it is quite fun.

Entering Iowa (8:30am?)

Around 9:40am, I arrived at Des Moines, IA. That's where I am changing the road to I-80. I was not hungry and the car had plenty of fuel left so I kept driving. However, at 90 miles to Davenport around 10:50am, I had to take a restroom break because I really needed. I saw IA State Trooper's cruiser at the rest area waiting for me (My car had a Texas license plate), so I did not go fast for a while.

Just entered Illinois

At 12:15pm, I entered the State of Illinois. Noticing the fuel gage is getting lower and lower. I concerned me since I cannot find a small town with gas station and fast food restaurant together (so I can save time by making only one stop). At 1:30pm, at town of Princeton, IL, I stopped. 641.4 miles, refuel 16 gallons (29.5mpg). Ate at McDonald's.

The McDonald's I ate at

After continue driving, I got to I-80 and I-55 junction around 2:30pm. I-55 takes me to the southern part of Chicago. I got off at IL-50 toward the south to the motel. The road runs right by the Midway Airport and it was packed. I had to go slow, but helped me locating the motel I am staying. Arrived at the Best Western Motel around 3:40pm. Checked-in, and went to shopping.

The motel I stayed.

The room I stayed. I liked them decorating with some aircraft posters.

Downtown view from the motel

I got a phone call from other job placement agency while I was driving so I needed to go to Kinko's to check emails. Shopping. Walgreen's for postcards of Chicago, Kinko's to check mails.  Boston Market for dinner

Kinko's located in the south of the motel, drove about 10 minutes.

Walgreen's where I purchased postcards

Boston Market where I bought my dinner

Post office

5:30pm came home Ate dinner, rest, Worked out until 7:45pm on a treadmill. Took shower, Called my friend who just moved to Chicago few weeks back to talk about the plan for tomorrow.

went to bed around 10:00pm.

2004/09/21: The Day of Interview

Woke up around 7:30am. Went to Kinko's in the morning to print out my latest resume (I remember this while watching an United Airline's advertisement on TV yesterday) worked out on a treadmill for another 30 minutes, had breakfast. Get changed, (Note: at 9:33am, mileage shows 762.0) drove to the company, arrived 10 minutes til 10:00am. somehow they were busy and I did not get to see the president until 10:20am. I thought he was testing my patients... The interview was a success, I talked in both the president and vice-president of the company in both English and Japanese. They asked me about my aspect about the company, job descriptions and they told me about the company's vision. It was not so bad, but the item I did not like much was the pay. They want me to start from $11/hr which give me about $23k a year ($16k after tax) which is not enough to live. In general, engineers get paid from $40k so this is very much low. The president of the company showed me the factory before I leave. I hope they liked me.

About 12:00pm, I finished interview. I came back to Motel I checked out this morning, get changed into more casual cloth, decided to stop by the Top Chicago, which is the job placement agency helping me finding one. I drove the I-50 to the north to go to Belmont Avenue. The road was busy, narrow, I had such a hard time driving. I got to the place where Top Chicago's at, but the all available parking spots were filled, so I parked my car at nearby court parking lot. (I knew I would get a ticket...) Arrived there at 2:05pm, talked with the agent for a while, then at 2:30pm left the place, drove on I-90? to go to Mitsuwa Supermarket. I know the road is always packed during the commuting hours, but I did not expect that to happen during the weekday, 2:00pm in the afternoon... One of the reason I wanted to go was because they have all kinds of Japanese food.

Traffic jam!

Arrived at 3:20pm Mitsuwa, lunch (I had Tonkatsu Lunch for about $10.00), shopping until 4:00pm


I started to drive back to Chicago downtown area. I thought about going to the lake.

Going back to Chicago downtown area

Chicago has its

The site of former Megis Airport

Chicago downtown in the afternoon

Chicago downtown at sunset

7:12pm, parked at Millennium park parking lot at Randolph and Michigan(?)

Chicago at night. (by Millennium park)

Chicago at night (near the river)

Had dinner with my friend at Park Grill restaurant (?) in the Millennium Park of Chicago. My friend had to be at a cocktail party so he was tired. He gave me his business card. I was surprised to see him got promoted as a vice-president of the company so quick. I

Went to bed.


Driving back to Wichita

Woke up at 6:00am at my friend's apartment. Took a quick shower. After eating breakfast, walked out there with my friend. I wanted to go to the AAA office to get more maps, so I said good bye to him. Walking the downtown of Chicago in the morning is pretty cool. I see so many people commute by public transportation system and feel like I am in Japan. People walking fast, see some guys selling newspaper at stands. Mmmm, I just love the energetic part of the city! I walked around for a while. I had to look up maps few times to get to the AAA office but I get what I needed. Leaving the parking lot around 9:20am. I paid $15.75 for the parking. I could not go up to the interstate right away, and I got lost and had to ask for direction to a guy who is working at construction work... Once I get my direction, it was a piece of cake. I started to drive back to Kansas!

12:58pm break, lunch, 15.799gal at 1087.9 miles (28.26mpg), 40 mi to STL.  (Litchfield, IL)

The Burger King I stopped for lunch

There are so many state troopers around as I drive closer to the MO-IL state border. At 2:08pm, entering Missouri from north side of St. Louis. I could see the downtown and the gateway arch on my left briefly as I cross the river. I kept driving and saw two more police officers. I was driving above the speed limit but +5 mph did not matter for them. I kept driving for another few more hours to get to Kansas City. Just near the Kansas State border, I saw a guy driving a car with fuel cap hanging out around 5:00pm. I drove right next to him and honked at him, after few more tries, I got his attentions and pointed at the side of his car. He then realized what he was doing. There was a construction on the interstate near the border so I had to slow down.

Arriving to Kansas City

Around 5:40pm, I was at Kansas City. I have about three more hours of driving. I usually drove right into to downtown area to get on the I-35, but I was very tired and afraid of causing a wreck after considering about the timing to avoid traffic jam, so I decided to take I-435, which take me to the I-35 by going southeast portion of the city.

Sunset is getting closer

Driving in the evening

Pump up the gas since I needed to return the gas with full tank of gas. Stopped at a service area by El Dorado at 8:06pm, mileage was 1549, amount of fuel in was 14.867gal (31.0mpg, pretty good!).

The road to Wichita had many construction sites. I was in a such a bad luck since I did not see any of them when I used the turnpike. I should have known!

I finally got back home at 8:40pm. I had some noodle which my host family made. I gave them some Japanese cookies, and whatever left from the round trip (bottles of fruit juice and water, chewing gum, soap and shampoo I stole from the motel...). My host father helped me returning the car around 10:00pm. I had a pen with myself to write down how much drove, but I lost it in the car. Oh well. The total distance I drove was 1,580 miles. Came home, went to bed. Tired.


A few days after the interview, I got a phone call from a job placement agency telling me that I got the job. However, I had to turn it down because the company is not willing to pay me the amount I asked. I think it was bad of them. The agent told me that the salary is negotiable because of my degree, and the company promised the same thing but they later refused to raise the price. I don't think there are anybody stupid enough to take an engineering position at $27,000/year.


Cost: Rental Car: 402.12 Miles: 1580, out at 9/19 3:50pm, In at 9/22 10:00pm

Gas: 9/19 - 11.21, 6.372gal at Lawrence, KS 7:35pm

9/22 $29.53, 15799gal at 1:15pm at Litchfield, IL

9/22 - 28.23, 14.867gal at Eldrado, KS, 8?06pm

9/20 Boston market $6.48 at 5:15pm

9/20 McDonald's $5.12, 1:15pm,

9/20 Walgreens, postcard at 5:00pm at Oak Lawn, IL

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