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Back on the road, Sal, Gram, and Gramps drive across the Illinois state line. It's a beautiful and sunny day, and they stop to dip their toes in Lake Michigan. It is such a big lake that Gram thinks it's an ocean at first.
That night, they stay at a Howard Johnson Motel on the outskirts of Chicago. As Sal tries to fall asleep, she thinks about what Lewiston, Idaho might be like. That's where her mother is, after all.
But of course she can't really imagine a place she's never been before.
Sal remembers how hard it was when her mom left home in April, just a few months before. The two of them were really close. When her mother was sad, she was sad. And when her mother was happy, she was happy, too.
The weeks after her mother left were a tough time for Sal, because she didn't know how to feel about things. She had lost the person that she had always tried to be like.
Then, one day in Bybanks, Sal watched a baby calf being born. She suddenly felt happy all on her own. At this moment, she realized she could be happy without her mother. "It seemed a mean thought and I was sorry for it, but it felt true" (7.14). Gosh, these are some confusing feelings, huh?
The next day, Gramps has trouble getting out of the city of Chicago. Finally, they find a road that heads west. Onward!
Their plan is to drive through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and end up in Idaho. As it turns out, they're following in the footsteps of Sal's mother, recreating the trip she took to get to Idaho.