I have most certainly neglected this blog. It’s been almost 3 months since my last post. A large part of that is that nothing exciting is really happening in my life. I’m as happy and content as ever, but happy and content is my normal, not my response to outside events. However, the main purpose of this blog is to memorialize little things which I would probably otherwise forget, and I have been slacking.
Let’s start with Meramec Caverns. My mom had been talking about doing a family camping/rafting trip for years, but it didn’t actually happen until this past June. Now, I say “camping” with a large grain of salt because we stayed in the motel as my mother is absolutely against anything resembling real camping. My family picked me up after work on a Friday and we arrived just in time for dinner at the one and only restaurant within 10 miles – which also happened to be the official Meramec Caverns restaurant. I had a chipotle black bean burger. It was delicious. We walked down the river and skipped stones for a little while before heading back to the motel for the night. The next morning I got up and went for a jog. Disappointingly, there were no trails, so I was forced to jog along the desolate strip of pavement which connected the campground with the wider world. I stayed within half a mile or so of the campground, because I wasn’t all that comfortable running at 6 in the morning in a completely deserted area with no cell phone service. I’m glad I did, because on my way back a convertible sped by three times – first towards the campground, then away, then back again. But the third time I heard him slowing down as he approached me. I watch way too many true crime shows, so my mind started racing. He was a white guy in his 40s or 50s. He asked me if I had seen his black girlfriend who had taken his wallet and “run back to the hood.” I stayed as far to the side of the road as I could, said “no” and started full out running back to the campground. He sped past me and that was the last I saw of him. Now, logically, I was within screaming distance of the campground and it would have been hard for him to find somewhere to shove me in his little convertible, but I don’t care how honest your intentions are, you don’t stop a girl who is jogging by herself in the middle of nowhere to ask her a question. You just don’t.
Anyway, I headed back the motel and said not a word of this to my family. After all, nothing actually happened so there was no point in freaking everyone out. After breakfast we boarded the bus which was to drop us off for our 6 mile canoe trip. There were 3 of us in each canoe (we switched frequently) and the trip took us around 3.5-4 hours. We stopped often to let the kids play in the rarely-higher-than-waist-deep water and had a wonderfully relaxing time. My parents zip-lined in the afternoon before we went on the lantern cavern tour. The tour was a little too campy for me (they had guides dressed up in period costumes) but the cave was pretty. The next morning my brother and I went zip-lining- not as thrilling as I thought it would be, but I do love roller coasters, so my thrill threshold is higher than many others – but it was fun none-the-less. Afterwards we piled back into the van for the hour or so drive home.
Two weekends later I drove up to Champaign after work to spend some time with Emily. That night we chatted in the garden of her apartment complex before watching the incredibly inappropriate movie Bridesmaids. The next morning we went to the Farmers Market and some other random shops in downtown Champaign before grabbing lunch and chatting at her apartment for a little longer before I headed home. Nothing earth-shattering, but the girl time with my best friend was awesome and much-needed. It’s just not the same talking on the phone.
The following weekend I went up to Chicago with my mom and brother. My mom had to go to a Vet convention and my parents thought this would be a good test run for me and my brother traveling together, seeing as how I’m taking him to Europe next year (side note: the kid changed his country of choice from Germany to France, so now I get to see Paris and Normandy in addition to Rome and Venice!). Our hotel was kind of in the ghetto, but it could have been worse. At least it had an exercise room so that I didn’t have to go running in south Chicago at 6 in the morning 😉 That first night we ate at a Thai restaurant (my choice, naturally) before heading up to Navy Pier, strolling along the shops, and eating ice cream. Because, really, you can’t visit a pier and not get ice cream. Mom was at her conference for most of Saturday, so the brother and I purchased the CityPass and went to the Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium before meeting up with mom to have dinner at the Taste of River North, which was like a smaller version of the Taste of Chicago. It was fun and the tacos were delicious, but it was incredibly crowded. On Sunday Tyler and I went to Millennium Park and the Art Institute before eating deep dish pizza for lunch (Tyler’s choice). We headed back to the hotel (where I had to do a second workout to get the pizza out of my system) then met up with mom for dinner in River North followed by a stroll along the Magnificent Mile while we killed time waiting for The Book of Mormon to start. Oh my god, the musical was so inappropriate, but so hilarious. As a lover of Broadway, I naturally enjoyed it, but my mother and brother (who generally dislike musicals) were also cracking up the entire time.
On Monday Tyler and I hit up the Field Museum then waited for mom in a Starbucks near the Willis Tower. I introduced Tyler to Frappuccinos – I’m sure his wallet will hate me later 🙂 We went up the Tower, experienced the plastic see-though “Ledge” and then headed back to collect our luggage from the hotel and wait for our Amtrak train. It was a nice little break from work – it didn’t hurt that I had taken Tuesday off (since our train didn’t get in until almost midnight) so I still had a day to myself before going back to the daily grind.