(Just so you guys know, I’m not spell or grammar checking this thing. It’s too darned long!)
Calvin dropped me off at the airport on his way to work at around 7:20, in plenty of time for my 9:50 flight. Check-in and security were a breeze, so I found a place to settle myself and read one of my books (side note: I brought four, finished two, and started on a third during the flights there and back) while I waited to board. All isle and window seats were taken by the time my group was called, so I had to scrunch into a middle seat in front of the emergency exit isle (hint: seats don’t recline). A two or three year old girl was pretty much flipping out the entire flight, so THAT was fun. Still, I was adequately distracted with my reading during the three hour flight.
Once the plane landed I turned my phone on and called Heather. Heather’s friend (and now mine, too) Cindy, our compatriate for the weekend’s activities, answered and said they were stuck at a light near the airport, but were almost there. So I went down to the baggage claim area and waited… and waited… and waited for the sign to be updated with which carousel my bag would arrive on. It took them FOREVER (really, it was probably only about twenty minutes, but still…) but fortunately my suitcase was near the front of the unloaded bags, so I got it pretty quick once things started moving.
Out to the curb, another call to Heather, and presently I saw her truck coming up the lane. Airport driving is never great under any circumstances, but I have to say that folks picking up passengers at this particular time were especially retarded about it. Not Heather, of course. She stopped in front of me, hopped out to open the back, I tossed my bag in, we gave each other a quick hug (“EEEEE!”), then we both hopped in the truck and were on our way.
Cindy and I gabbed like long-time friends for a few minutes before I thought to introduce myself. Heather negotiated traffic while we all commented on how hungry we were. So of course the first stop of the trip was for some Real Chicago Pizza!
(I stole some of Heather’s pictures to add to this entry – her whole set is here. It’s handy to have two people taking pictures of the same events! My whole set is here, if you want to see the pics that didn’t make it into the entry.)
The wait staff had to move us to another table to make room for a large party (that never ended up showing up while we were there), and we got free dessert out of the deal. So suffice to say we ROLLED out of there, moaning and groaning.
We headed to Heather’s house to chill for a little while before going to the Highland 4th of July Festival. Every day I was there we found some time to set up chairs in Heather’s driveway, sit and drink beer and listen to music and watch the world go by. TOTALLY my kind of relaxation.
We headed to the 4th of July Festival as it started to get dark. We parked and lugged a couple of lawn chairs with us, which we set up in front of the gazebo where History’s End was playing. Heather is friends with all of the band members, so it was fun to listen to her stories about all the goofy antics they get themselves into.
We left the fair at close to 11:00, which was when the band was supposed to finish up (though it was still playing at midnight, come to find out). Heather drove me around town, pointing out all the places of interest and telling me about her childhood and the places that were important to her. Then we headed back to her house, fixed ourselves some snacks, and sat around her kitchen table talking until the early hours of the morning. I finally hauled myself to my room, and fell asleep in the comfy bed listening to the night noises and enjoying the fresh air coming in through the window.
Heather’s cat Harley likes to make mischief, so Heather advised me to keep the doors to the bedrooms and bathroom closed. That didn’t stop Harley from busting through the door at 3:00 in the morning – I’d pushed the door shut but hadn’t latched it. Scared the crap out of me. I sat up and said, “Harley, what are you doing?” To which she responded, “Meh.”
Huh! I can’t believe I didn’t take one picture of that cat the whole time I was there! Here, I found this one in Heather’s photostream:
Friday was Cubs day! Heather and I got up at a decent hour, then procured coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts (how could I have forgotten how good their coffee is?!?). We drove around town for a bit, seeing the sights, then went back home to shower up and get ready to go. We headed over to Cindy’s at 10:00, and we all piled into her car to head Downtown, stopping briefly for some Micky D’s for breakfast.
We thought we were going to have to park outside of the Downtown area and take the EL into town, but as it happened we were early enough that traffic wasn’t a problem. It was Floppy Hat Day, after all, and we wanted to be among the first 10,000 so we could get one!
Heather payed extra to get us premium parking right next to Wrigley Field, though as it turned out we were still stuck in traffic – the vehicular AND pedestrian kind – after the game. We stood in line for about twenty minutes before they let us in. Floppy Hats in hand, we headed in the direction of our seats, pausing at the Gift Shop so I could buy Calvin a commemorative shot glass. Then we got polish sausages (“polies”) and pretzels and drinks, and found our seats. We had quite a bit of time on our hands before the game started, so I occupied myself as I usually do under such circumstances, and took a butt-load of pictures.
Heather got some great shots of the game, despite the couple that was sitting in front of her, with a little daughter that looked EXACTLY like Cindy-Lou Who. They kept holding her up in the air and her pigtails would get in the way of Heather’s shots. Pet Peeve: people who think YOU think their kid is as cute as THEY think their kid is.
The place was packed, and Cubs fans have got to be the most loyal of all the baseball teams. The Brewers fans in the stands were overwhelemed by the Cubs fans. Their chant of “Let’s Go Brewers!” was met with and completely drowned out by, “Brewers SUCK!” The Cubs won 2-1 in the 10th inning on a walk – I imagine the Brewers pitcher felt pretty stupid, with bases loaded, a full count on the board, and walking in the winning run. But hey, a “W” is a “W”, and the entire stadium got to its feet to sing “Go Cubs Go”.
We exited the stadium a different way than we came in, so we could get pictures of the Marquee.
I sat in the front seat on the way back, and Cindy very kindly took a route that took us through the Downtown area of Chicago so I could gawk.
We stopped at a White Castle on the outskirts of town, and I had my very first White Castle experience. Which I did not photograph, because I was too busy stuffing my face. We moo’ed our way back home again, set the lawn chairs up in the driveway, and the three of us sat and gabbed around the citronella candle. Neighbors came and went and said hi from a distance, we mocked as we watched the amateaur pyro’s set off fireworks, and we watched the cops pull speeders over along Heather’s busy, busy street. Ooh, and I saw fireflies! I was so freaking ecstatic about that – I haven’t seen fireflies since I was little.
I called Calvin, as I did a couple of times each day I was there. And I got teased for it every. single. time. Yeah, I love my husband. Yeah, I missed him. What of it? Nyah. Cindy went back across the street to her house a little before midnight, and Heather and I went back inside. We started to watch “Army of Darkness” but I was nodding off fifteen minutes into it, so I called it a night and went to bed.
The Fourth of July started out overcast and rainy, which suited my mood just fine. We’re short on rainy days in Arizona, so any chance I get to experience one makes me happy, even if it does dampen any plans for the day (pun intended). Heather and I got ourselves together in short order, and headed to the nearby Chesterton European Market. The drive was lovely – all weekend long my eyeballs were soaking in the green of the trees and fields. I kept having to remind myself that I was in Indiana and not Maine, the landscape and small town layouts are so similar.
We parked and walked down the street toward the market, and Heather described the crepes she’d had on a previous visit. So, after a brief peruse through the booths (we were starving), we stood in line for our breakfast. It kind of took forever (or it seemed to – again, we were hungry), cuz this guy was QUITE popular.
Once we obtained our strawberry banana crepes (with powered sugar!), we hunted up a picnic table from which to enjoy our feast.
We walked around the market, digesting and yet STILL drooling over all the beautiful produce. I’ll miss Heather most of all, but coming in a close second is the Farmers Markets in Indiana!!!
I bought some raspberries, cucumbers, and beefsteak tomatoes, and Heather bought some cherries and some dip mix (excellent stuff – she got me some to bring home). I think I ate half of my raspberries on the way home. We stopped at a grocery store for some potato salad, macaroni salad, and Jay’s BBQ potato chips (an Indiana institution!), then went back home and relaxed for a while.
The rain started coming down harder as the afternoon went on, and we started questioning whether or not we’d still go to the fireworks show. The rain didn’t stop Heather from grilling, though! Once we deemed ourselves hungry, she dragged her grill out from her garage and placed it by the door, then hooked us up with some AWESOME polish sausage, burgers, and grilled corn.
We cut up some cukes and tomatoes to eat with the dip (or, in the case of the tomatoes, with celery salt and pepper), and set out the potato and macaroni salads. AND Heather made some perogies, fresh from the farmer’s market. Are you guys keeping track of just HOW MUCH FOOD we had for just the two of us???
More moo-ing ensued.
The sky started to brighten a bit as the afternoon went on, so Heather and I figured we’d take a chance on the fireworks. We supplied ourselves with tasty beverages and OFF, and drove to the Lake County fairgrounds. We secured a spot next to the lake, put the back seat down and opened up the back hatch to keep out of the sprinkles, and proceeded to goof off in excess. This is how we entertained ourselves for the next hour:
We are such dorks, but MAN do I have a good time with Heather!
I heard a “SQUEE!” a couple of cars down from us, and saw that one family had brought a baby pot-bellied pig (named Wilbur, of course) to the show. So of COURSE Heather and I had to go over and snoofie snoofie at the baby piggie!
It got full dark, and the rain finally stopped altogether, so we dragged our lawn chairs out of the back of the truck and set them up. Heather and I occupied ourselves until the show started, figuring out which camera setting work best with low light and fireworks. I never did get mine figured out, but Heather’s fireworks pictures came out great.
The show lasted for, oh, twenty or thirty minutes, and was very well done. After the applause was over, we hung out for a bit to let traffic clear, and yet still got stuck in heavy lines out on the roads as police officers tried to direct things. We listened to music and gabbed and I personally didn’t mind at all that we were delayed.
Back home again, we planted ourselves in front of the TV and snacked and watched “Strangeland”, which I DID stay awake for. Makes a girl wanna go right out and get herself some more piercings! Really. No, really.
We slept in a little bit on Sunday, my last day in Indiana. I made Heather wait while I showered, since I just wanted to get it done with so I could pack later in the day. Then we went through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru for coffee, and went to another nearby farmer’s market, where I secured this:
We sat and ate and gabbed, and I truly regretted the fact that I was leaving her, and the heavenly weather, later in the afternoon. We went back home again, snacked and lunched on the leftovers from the previous night’s feast, and watched “Scoobie Doo” (the movie, not the cartoon). I packed up my stuff, and we left the house at about 2:00 to make my 4:50 flight (I wanted to get there early to deal with the lines through security that I saw on my way in on Thursday). Heather dropped me off at the curb, with a quick heartfelt hug and promises to have another – longer! – visit next summer. I started missing her as soon as I saw her drive away. She sure did take good care of me – spoiled me, even! I love my Heather.
Check in was quick, security less so, and I found myself with about an hour and a half to kill in the airport. I had a $7.50 shot of Jameson (criminal! and scant!), stopping in one of the bars to watch the game after Heather texted me with the Cubs score. I read and went to the bathroom, like, three times (to make sure I wouldn’t have to on the plane). I chatted on the phone with Calvin for a little while, then went to stand in the boarding line. I was in the last group, so middle seat again, but this time it was in the second row – reclining seat AND proximity to the bathroom. Score!
Three hours of reading, then I called Calvin as soon as I landed. He circled the airport as I dealt with baggage claim, and was quick to pick me up when I called from the curb. I was only away for four days, but Calvin was SUCH a sight for sore eyes. I don’t think I truly realized how much I missed him until he was there in the driver’s seat next to me. I gabbed about the trip all the way home, at home getting the animals fed and dealt with, back in the car to Chili’s for dinner, and all through dinner. We ended the evening watching comedy, snuggled up on the couch together.
My vacation was wonderful, but it sure is lovely to have someone missing you and anxious for you to return home again.
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