Both Gary and I are from Northwest Indiana….the Region. The area is called the Region because of its proximity to Chicago. I lived about 30 minutes from the Windy City until I was eleven. Gary lived further south, about an hour and a half from Chicago. We both enjoy visiting that part of the state, the part where the land is flat, the dirt is black, and no one waves at you as you drive down the road (unless a middle finger is up). I, being a city girl at heart, love spending time in Chicago and taking that journey back to my childhood. This weekend we were presented with the opportunity for a long weekend visiting family and friends. Since my brother was available to house and dog sit, it was a perfect plan.
It began when Gary and I received an invitation to a retirement party that will take place Sunday in Fort Wayne. Gary’s friend and former coworker, whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years, is retiring, so the friend’s wife is having a surprise party. As we looked at the calendar and saw that it fell on a long weekend, we decided to extend the trip.
We are currently on our way to our friends’ at Dewart Lake (after a little detour to the outlet mall). The Rector family has been in my life since I was born. They lived next door to us until I was seven, and since that time we have kept in touch. Peggy and Clyde are like an aunt and uncle to my sister, brother, and me. They have three daughters who are around our ages. We will spend tonight at Peggy’s and Clyde’s home on the lake, and attend a party hosted by their daughter Suzie. The last time I spent a night in this house, my father was with me. Our family had joined theirs for a weekend on the lake. I was really young, so I remember very little about that trip. Still, it means a lot to me to be in the same place my father spent time. Peggy always tells me stories about my dad, and I value those stories since I have so few memories of him. One of the things I love about this family is that we can go years without seeing them, yet the conversations always pick up right where we left off.
Tomorrow we will go to the Hammond area. Gary wants to go to Cabella’s, and since much of this trip is about me, I will concede to a visit to a hunting store. Perhaps I will purchase some camo. I bet Gary would find me especially hot! I wonder what people in town would say if I suddenly took a liking to camo. Anyway, I digress. After lunch at a yet-to-be-determined location (that’s kind of a lie because I want to go to Miner Dunn, which has the best burgers ever – and I went there as a kid – so I can pretty much bet that’s where we will go.)
After our brief stop in Hammond, and possibly a drive-by of my old houses (I also lived in Munster), we will venture into the mad traffic of Chicago. Thank the Lord Gary is driving, though Addison gets her license this month, and that would be some intense experience for her. Since my car is new, I believe Gary would be the best choice. We will be spending Friday night at my niece’s new apartment in downtown Chicago. She just moved in May, so I am excited to see her urban abode. That evening we will be meeting my cousin Marcia and her husband David for some Chicago-style pizza. Oh, yah! Deep dish pizza oozing with cheese and cholesterol. Marcia and I are only a year apart in age. Until we moved south, we spent a great deal of time with her and her brother. I have wonderful memories of riding bikes, building obstacle courses in their basement, and spending the night at their house. Despite our complete opposite lifestyles, Marcia and I have remained close over the years. She is a big city girl; I am verging on being a hick (a very classy hick). She rides horses (not like horseman-club-riding horses, but dressage riding, which is very proper); I run. She has an exotic beauty – short, black hair, dark skin, tall, and thin; I, well let’s just say you’d never guess that we’re related. She and her husband are worldly; I have never been out of the country, unless you count flying over Canada on our way to Alaska. I embrace our differences, and always look forward to the times we get to be together.
Saturday will be filled with the excitement of the big city. We plan to rise bright and early, and go for a run along the lake. That’s my heaven. Because of this knee issue, I will have to walk a lot, but that won’t take away from the experience: Lake Michigan on my left, the skyline on my right, and the wind in my face (I will probably be cussing the wind). After showers, we will head to the Field Museum of Natural History. I will admit, when I went to this museum in my younger days, it bored me, but Addison loves history, so I think she’ll enjoy it. And…since our next stop is the CUBS game, I can endure a bit of boredom. In the afternoon, we will be cheering on the Cubs when they play the Pirates. That’s what true Cubs fans do. We all have our new Cubs shirts, so we will look very touristy. Don’t worry – I will be posting pics along the way!
After the game, it’s back in the car so we can head east. We will be spending Saturday night in Fort Wayne, and will go to the retirement party Sunday – but not before we hit up the Dick’s in Fort Wayne. Gary says we are trying to hit up every Dick’s in the country. I haven’t yet met these friends of Gary’s, but am sure I will like them. Since there will likely be a bunch of teachers there, surely I can find something to talk about. If nothing else, I just share some funny Gary stories. When he isn’t around. Because he’d trump me with embarrassing Joyce stories. And that would suck.
While my guess is that no one really cares what I am doing this weekend, you just read this whole blog entry. I really write for my own enjoyment, and I did just pass a substantial amount of time in the car, but I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts. Actually, if you knew what really goes on in this mind, you might petition a judge to lock me up. Want an example? This morning as we were driving down a country road near our house, I saw a turtle crossing the road. He (who really knows what sex a turtle is?) also saw us, and naturally shrunk into his shell. I thought to myself (I probably shouldn’t admit this) that it would be really cool to be a turtle. Then when I am afraid, or someone annoys me, or I just want to be alone, I could just pull myself into my shell and hideout. And because I am a turtle, no one would even wonder what my problem is. I think I will be a turtle in my next life. Then I’d really be a hard-ass!
That’s it for now. I have to rest up for shopping. Have a fabulous 4th of July….Isn’t it great to be an American?!