14 October 2011

Third Week in September 2011

Ugh, sore from Cowtown, and I'm going to be sitting for eight straight hours. It's Monday and I'm planning on hitting the road to Chicago by 1000. 1000 is a good time to start because it makes me miss all the traffic, unless the roads around Rockford and Cherry Valley are packed, which is rarely the case. My actual out time was around 1040, which is reasonable, since I didn't set an alarm. Unlike my fall trip home last year, there were only two relatively short construction zones that I went through on I80, making the trip relatively pleasant. I did do something that I said I would never do: I answered a phone call from work while I was on vacation, what else was I going to do in eastern Iowa?

I arrived at mom's, got settled in, and we went out to eat at Main Street Station for dollar tacos. The restaurant itself is the old railroad passenger station in McHenry, so it has a railroad flavor to the decor and drinks. Monday Night Football was on, but I mostly just enjoyed talking to mom. When we finally went home, I got her internet connection up and running. She called it a 4G, but what it really was is a Verizon MiFi. It wasn't tough to understand, but I get why people make technology so difficult.

Daisy is finally used to me!

Tuesday 'morning' I was up and mom and I headed out for breakfast at IHOP. I then went with mom running errands, and as always, Aldi's was one of the places we went. When we got back home, I went for a short walk around mom's neighborhood and then took a nap. When I got up, mom had made pork chops and potatoes, I love her potatoes. We then sat down and watched NCIS and NCIS / Los Angeles ... yep I said that I watched TV. I did a lot of TV viewing on this visit.

My last few visits home have really underscored my feeling that the 'vibe' in McHenry is slightly uncomfortable. It's not like I expect to hear a banjo playing at any moment, but there is an underlying tone to the town, like a feeling of sadness or tragedy that is implied, but never spoken about. Like the sun shining, but giving no warmth. Okay, I'm done with my waxing poeticallyish.

Wednesday after an unhurried morning, I had lunch with Michele at a place that both my mother and Michele recommended (the name is escaping me currently). It was a very pleasant visit with Michele. I like how my friends are unafraid to say just about anything to me, so I got some advice.

I contemplated my advice with a long walk on a path next to the railroad tracks that go from McHenry towards Richmond (I'm not sure they get all the way there though). Yes, I had my camera!





The entire walk was a little over 4.5 miles up and back. It went past McCullom Lake and about a half mile from Ringwood. I turned around after I passed a farm. If you'd like to see all my pictures from the walk, and there are lots of flowers, you can click here to see them. I came home and napped before going out later to eat at Applebee's with mom.

Thursday I took the train downtown to meet Jen for lunch, and surprise a lecture on Hypochondria. After I filled my brain with all sorts of interesting knowledge, we went over to eat at Heaven on Seven and I killed all those brain cells with a couple of New Orleans style drinks. We then walked back to her office, she went back to work, and I walked down the lakefront and back over to the train station. It was a short trip downtown, but that's okay, I got to see Jen.

I got home, had dinner with Mom, then headed over to my home away from home neighborhood bar, The Gambler, and met with Suzy, Tony, and Maureen. Yay for old friends! I haven't seen Tony in twenty-five plus years. He told some old stories that were hilarious ... and that I don't remember. I really enjoyed listening rather than doing most of the talking.

Friday morning I was off to meet my cousin Amy for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, about an hour drive to get there.

It certainly appears that we are related.

My mother worked at Penney's at Woodfield when I was a kid. My brothers and I spent many hours playing on that yellow-orange statuey thing waiting for her to get off work.
It's still there, and it's still ugly.

The conversation was nothing short of wow. Although much of it was not private, I am going to leave it off of her for now. I really appreciated it and her and the too short amount of time we had to visit. We only argued about one thing, whether or not the hostess hair was real or not. I said no, she said yes. Since I was on vacation, I had no where to be, but unfortunately, Amy had to go too soon.

I wandered around the mall, which hasn't changed much in 30 years. Priced a few Bears jerseys, um, no. Then went over to Ikea to do some shopping, oddly enough, I bought myself a birthday present, and looked around the place for all sorts of things. I did not overspend, thankfully. I went back to mom's house, and basically relaxed all evening (while she went out).

Saturday morning I was up early for breakfast with mom. I packed up the car, said my goodbyes, and left town. Just like last year, I managed to time my trip through Iowa City to match the ending of an Iowa football game. The traffic was heavy, but not stop and go, and an Iowa win ensured that it was friendly driving. It was like that all the way to Des Moines.

I was going no further than Des Moines, because I was attending a swing dance workshop weekend that both Rae and Larry, and Eve and Michael were teaching at. I found where the workshop was going to be, then headed over to Rae and Larry's house to unpack and get ready for the dance.

I'm not sure I can do this move.

The dance floor at the venue was incredibly fast.

The band was 4th Street Swing, Larry, Travis, and Jill play in it.

It turns out no one in the band wanted to sing Route 66
... I WILL, I WILL ...
I'm not exactly afraid of the microphone.

You can see all the pictures from the Swing Sensational Weekend here. After the dance we went to dinner at TGIFriday's, a Des Moines dancers tradition. I guess Travis really wanted to know more about everyone there, so he asked for everyone's most humiliating story. Well now, I guess after I shared mine, we're all good friends now. I got back to Rae and Larry's and fell asleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, Larry discovered a circuit breaker had tripped, the one that included the spare bedroom I was in. He reset the switch, which turned on the overhead light in the room I was in, so I woke up all sleepyheaded wondering why Larry was turning on and off the light. We all had a good laugh about it in the morning.

Sunday I took three classes during the day. Had a nice talk with Eve about (my) dancing (she was my first partner in the Cowtown Jack and Jill). Then I packed it in and decided it was time to head home. The drive from Des Moines to Omaha was uneventful, except for listening to the Bears get beat by Green Bay ... yuck. When I got home I did a bunch of laundry, so my vacation ended well.

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