Thank you to everyone who took the time to make suggestions. I have enjoyed reading them all. I'll start by saying that it's been really helpful and I now have some good ideas to investigate further - either a loop that takes us to Lake Superior or around Lake Michigan. Both are areas neither of us has really explored (including this native Chicagoan). My main concern is how crowded it will be in mid-August. Sam Thanks for the pronunciation of Mackinac. I would not have put it together otherwise.
Both my friend and I lived in the Bay Area (that's where we met), she long-term and me for several years. She now lives in Seattle. Our next-to-last road trip was a loop from San Jose to Monterrey Bay to Hearst Castle, to Las Vegas to Zion Nat'l Park (my favorite place in the world) to San Jose. The last was from Seattle through the San Juans for a week on Vancouver Island and back via Port Angeles. In other words, we pretty much enjoy everything. For those of you who recommended it, I love the PacNW (and spent many happy weeks enjoying it by car) but this time, I'm going to make my friend fly across the country.
Wray I'd love to visit your area (I was in Boston once about a million years ago for an all-too-short long weekend), but it's too far for us this time, I fear. And yes, Glacier is gorgeous.
FastEddie You didn't entice me. TC The only thing that would make me consider Route 66 is if you told me that I'd still see all the Burma Shave signs. There are a few at the House on the Rock.
Charlene and Lola and Pam and andi I love those places, thanks for great memories you have stirred up.
Sarah Please tell me more about Door County. If I go that way, I would definitely stop at Taliesin again, but once at the House on the Rock was enough - even with the temptation of the Burma Shave signs.
Susan and mnannie Thanks for all the ideas. I've never explored Michigan at all. Or Minnesota . . .
Shawn uh, that's the game where a bunch of grown men stand around a big grassy area and spit a lot (why do they all spit all the time?), while thousands of people sit in the sun and drink beer and eat, right? In San Francisco I know they all eat garlic fries, I guess in Chicago it's red hots? Sadly, the Bulls won't be playing - a good friend has season tickets for good seats.
Nancy I'll check out your good ideas too. The only thing I remember well about August in northern Wisconsin is lots of trees and hordes of mosquitoes. But that was many many years ago. Maybe the mosquitoes have gone extinct since then. PS - I even responded on thread three! Love, love, love Oregon.
CL I do miss not being able to go to Ashland. Best theatre outside of London!
Joe Any time is a great time for the Pac NW. Just not in this trip's plan.
Lo The first time I saw Crater Lake was in snow - in August ☺ Literally breath-taking. And you are right, the Colorado Plateau is the best. I am so lucky to have made several trips there . . . but never in August!
Elizabeth I'm already thinking about it for another visit (I get to Chicago about once every two years) - but not in August. It isn't even the heat so much as the thought of long lines at all the sights. And as aquamarine said - it's all the miles and miles of cornfields getting to and from Tennessee. I once drove from Chicago to Dayton and back in August. There was nothing but corn all the way, except for a brief stop in Indianapolis.
I'll also be in Chicago for a couple weeks at the beginning of August. If anyone has hidden gems or local events, please share. I've been to all the obvious tourist sights, most of them more than once.