I blog so little these days, it takes nearly two weeks to blog about something. Might as well catch up by doing a two-fer. The weekend before last my mother and I visited my nephew in the southern part of this state. Interesting fact- it takes nearly two hours longer to get somewhere else in the same state than it does to visit my friends two states over! So much to my brother’s and nephew’s disappointment, we did not leave at 5 or 6AM, but more like 9 or so. With a stop for lunch, we didn’t arrive until about 4PM (and that’s without a time change excuse). Well, we spent 24 hours with him in any event. I’ll get the food places out of the way- during the trip we ate at Friday’s, Sonic, Golden Corral, and Taco Bell. That’s right- not much difference from around here. I happen to know there’s a Golden Corral within about an hour from here and Sonic is somewhat closer I think. Taco Bell and Fridays of course are all over the place around here.
With that out of the way, the first thing Alex did was take us to one of the nearby lakes to take a ride in his boat- the one that has sat in our driveway for much of the last few years but went with him to school some months ago. Now that he’s back for the summer, so is the boat… Anyway, my mother really enjoyed the boat ride, even holding out her arms at one point to take in the wind. We stopped at a couple points in the lake- twice at a favorite spot for diving off of a cliff (no, I didn’t do it), and once near a (short) waterfall. We had to get out of the boat for that one. Here are a couple of pictures of the cliff. There are actually many bird nests all over the side though I don’t know what sort of birds they are. I tried to get good shots of the nests, but there is only so much one can do with a cell phone camera.
Sunday we spent the morning waiting and watching as my nephew worked to receive his first scuba diving certification. It took about two hours for him to do two dives with his class. Pics:
Afterward we were to go on a hike through a swamp area, but the day being as hot as it was (mid 90s!) my mother and I vetoed that plan, so we spent time at a state/national park instead- I already forgot the name- Giant maybe. He showed us a water tower we climbed up (86 steps). It was a little dangerous toward the top as the tank was actually leaking a bit, making the steps wet. Next he showed us some interesting rock formations. What was one of them called? Devil’s Table I think? I tell you, there were a lot of motorcycles on the road that weekend. Over at the park there were two motorcycle groups in the water tower area. Anyway, after a final stop for some shopping where I bought several bottles of hot sauce, we spent the last hour just chilling at his house following a 5-minute tour of his college (SIU) campus. I can’t really say for sure it is a lot bigger than NIU, but it is most definitely more spread out on more land. Park pics:
So on to the next weekend- as most of you readers know, I visited with my friends in OH. Well, most of them- JustJ was MIA doing his own thing. Next time. Sorry, I have no pics this time, but I had better email C & L the party pic which I have no permission to post here. Anyway, for the first time ever the major traffic backup going there was not in Illinois, but on 80/94 in Indiana just before the toll road. As well, it was the first time I didn’t have to pay cash even once for tolls. When I first visited some years ago, my IPass worked only in IL. Over the past couple of years an agreement was made with Indiana so it worked there, and now this year the final 50 cent cash toll was squashed as it now works in Ohio!
So I arrived, checking into the Plaza. I saved a bunch by using Priceline to make reservations, making it only a little more expensive than the M&D down the road. The addition of breakfast (I don’t think M&D has breakfast?), WiFi, and just the proximity to C & L made it worth it. However, not so much the original quoted price. I was a little early for game night, so we went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant that unfortunately wasn’t very good (what did you do with my leftovers I forgot, L?). Game night however was much better, frustration of the super-player Mary911 on the opposite team for one game notwithstanding. I learned a new game I can play with my cabin in a couple weeks that night. I also learned the next day I don’t seem to make a very good mayor- but that’s probably just because it was my first time. So after several games and goodbyes, I left- not the last one. Sunday morning I went to church with C & L- a pleasurable experience though we forgot to take a tour of the older kid’s area where their oldest spends her Sunday mornings. Afterward we changed into more casual clothes and headed out for a certain someone’s surprise graduation party where we met up with most of the people from the previous night and some of my other Ohio friends including Jamiahsh. More talk, more Mafia, some food and frisbee later (more on the party in another blog) and we went back to C & L’s place to watch a movie. Dr. No and From Russia With Love on bluray were vetoed, so we watched an apparent favorite of theirs called Book of Eli which unbeknown to me they had just seen a couple days before, and not for the first time! I admit it was pretty good, especially the end which I won’t mention in case anyone reading this hasn’t seen it.
Monday we did not do the Memorial Day event as was originally planned due to C & L’s wise prediction of how the little ones would fare. Instead, we took a trip out to Defiance to do some go-karting, Mexican buffet eating, and dollar-store shopping. I just realized that one of the stores we went to, Big Lots, has at least one location near me- I just passed it today. I will have to check it out some time. Just as we finished at Big Lots/pet store the sky burst open into a huge downpour and we headed back. We hanged out at the house for a bit before I sadly had to head home. The torrential downpour started again and continued for a short bit into Indiana before finally clearing up. Since there were leftover sandwiches from the party the day before I didn’t have to eat out on the way back, but I did get something at Dairy Queen (half the price of a full meal for a small Blizzard!). I also did something sort of foolish and bought one of those new flavor Mountain Dews I’ve been meaning to try. By the time I made it to Chicago I was practically dying from holding too long if you know what I mean- and I had just gone an hour or so before at the DQ stop! Well, as it turned out this was God’s plan, as after I stopped at the oasis just past Chicago, barely able to walk to the restroom, I was approached by a frantic young woman about having been lost and now nearly out of gas long before reaching her destination of Rockford. I helped her out by swiping my bank card and giving her $25 of gas, more than she asked for or probably needed to get to Rockford. Not a big deal in the scheme of helpful things, but a victory for me (praise God!) in helping people out- something I often don’t even see until it’s too late for me to do anything about it.
Random youtube video that has absolutely no bearing on the above post, but I found interesting: