Sunday, March 16, 2014

Des Plaines, Boss, Des Plaines: Stopping, Albeit Erroneously, to Note the End of an Era -- and an Oasis

I am writing this overlooking Interstate 90 from within the Des Plaines Oasis.

Tomorrow--St. Patrick's--and all future days I will be unable to do so. For today, March 16, 2014, marks the end of a 55-year run for this particular tollway oasis. 

Per this article, which provides details as to why the Des Plaines Oasis--which has stood in the same spot albeit with multiple modifications since 1959--is being eliminated (due to a highway reconfiguration that seems to make sense), demolition is slated to start in late May or June. 

Now, for all things for me to wax nostalgic about, a tollway oasis may seem to be low on the list. Unlike the recent erasure from the local landscape of the erstwhile UBAA Tap in Skokie and the Purple Hotel in Lincolnwood, the oasis is not a place where I have enjoyed celebrations nor have ever considered particularly unique or special. 

But I have spent much pleasurable time here.

Or so I thought. 

You see, when I recently read that the Des Plaines Oasis was closing--the adjoining gas stations will remain for quite awhile--I thought they were referring to the one over I-294 near O'Hare. After all, that is only a couple of miles from the Rivers Casino, which is denoted as being in Des Plaines. 

So without much else to do today, I went there. 

For without meaning to over-sentimentalize this, nor imply that I was there all that often, I really liked the oasis. 

And not just because it provided a convenient spot to get a bite to eat or relieve myself if the need arose during the many years I drove 294 getting from Glen Ellyn to Deerfield and back, or to/from Skokie from Glen Ellyn, or from Skokie to & from Naperville, Munster or other such places, or before/after concerts at the Rosemont Horizon/Allstate Arena when I lived in Glen Ellyn, etc. 

Certainly, most often, an acute need prompted me to stop at the oasis. But rather than simply making a beeline to the bathroom, McDonald's and back to my car, I almost always liked to linger. 

Especially late at night, I found the oasis to be a tranquil place to read and/or just watch the cars go by. And in more recent years, to write.

So many--relatively--were the times I found a seat at a table overlooking the tollway and happily sat for awhile reading a book. And though I've never been a coffee drinker, even sans or after a full meal, I would grab a Krispy Kreme donut or Auntie Annie's pretzel and a Diet Coke to enjoy as I read.

In total, I've likely only spent an hour or so reading inside a tollway oasis at most a couple dozen times, but there is one at which I did so the most often. 

And excepting my bed, I don't know if I can cite another specific place where I so repeatedly have enjoyed reading. 

However, that place is not the Des Plaines Oasis. 

It is the O'Hare Oasis, which is where I initially went today to hang out for  sentimentality's sake, thinking it was the one marked for extinction. 

But, only by virtue of asking the cashier in the Travel Mart, I learned that that oasis is not going away. At least there are no closure plans that she knew about.

The one that is disappearing, which I'm now at--possibly for the first time--is just a few miles away but over I-90, just west of Mt. Prospect Road. 

So after being the only moron snapping photos at the O'Hare Oasis, I relocated to the Des Plaines Oasis to find that I am not the only sentimental fool. 

Just, presumably, the only fool sentimental about the wrong place.

Which I'm glad will still exist after tonight.

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