Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thursday, September 6, through Tuesday, September 11:  The Illinois Adventure: 
We left Marshall early on Thursday morning, headed for LaPorte, Indiana, 130 miles away.  It was an easy trip, and we arrived at the Cassidy Motel & RV Park early. 

The owner assigned us one site, then changed his mind and, before we separated the truck and trailer, suggested another site---frankly a better one.  Of course, we took it.  (We realized later that the owner is a bit strange, having been here since his grandfather built the place many years ago.)  It's an odd setup, having both a small RV park and a motel.   The motel is the second one built on the property, the first having been torn down due to deterioration.  But it turned out to be just fine.  We're here for only one day, as a stopover on our way to Illinois. 

There is not much in LaPorte, so we headed to nearby Michigan City (named for the lake, not the state) which is on the roughly 50-mile coastline that Indiana has on Lake Michigan.  Becky needed some new workout clothes and there is a huge factory outlet mall in Michigan City, very near the docks.  She hit the jackpot at the Champion store there.

Michigan City is an old, industrial city going through some redevelopment activity, and is, therefore, not too pretty---especially since one of its most visible landmarks is the smokestack on its nuclear powerplant.  (I have nothing against nuclear powerplants, it's just that this smokestack is so prominent.)

Friday morning, we headed for Belvidere, Illinois, near Rockford.  (Why it's spelled Belvidere, not Belvedere is not known to me.)  We are to be here for five days, as a break from our recent hectic schedule (before Marshall) of successive two-day stays.  It was a relatively easy 115 miles, and going through Chicago during rush hour on the "Chicago Skyway" toll road involved only a little bumper-to-bumper traffic. 

In part because we gained an hour when we crossed into Illinois, we got here too early and the site we had been assigned was not yet vacant.  The people who were in the site dragged out their departure until the last minute hoping for a cancellation so they could stay another day.  We cooled our heels for almost two hours waiting for them to leave.  We were happy to oblige, since we had earlier been alerted that, through a computer-system error, the park had overbooked for this weekend and we almost were denied any space at all.

We are staying at the Pine Country RV Park, an Outdoor World place, part of the Thousand Trails system.  It's very large, several hundred acres, and quite nice.  We have one of the very few pull-through, full hookup sites.

Becky unexpectedly ran into a friend, Dennis Bloomingdale.  We originally met Dennis in Harlingen, Texas, during the winter of 2009.  Dennis is a pickleball player.  We also saw him in Southern California, during the winter of 2010.  Dennis and his wife are from this part of Illinois.  They stay at this park during the summer because they have seven children and 18 grandchildren in the area.

Friday night, we took home dinner from the Panda Express, located just a couple of miles away at the nearest rest stop on the Interstate.  It was a bit of a surprise that we had to go through the toll plaza to get back from the restaurant, so it cost us an extra $3.00 to get home.

Saturday morning, we went to the nearest Ace Hardware store in Belvidere to get a new air pump for our bike tires, since the old one died on Friday and Becky planned to hit the local trails---which she did on Saturday afternoon.  It was a nice 16-mile ride on the Belvidere bike route.

It's country music weekend here.  Saturday night, there was a concert of sorts at the rec center at the RV park.  A six-member family (called “The Amber Wave Band”) played mostly bluegrass music.  The youngest was about 9.  She just screeched.  But her older brother (Sean, age 12) played the fiddle.  They weren’t the Osmonds, but they were actually pretty good.

Sunday, Becky drove to Crystal Lake, about 23 miles away, to visit Nancy Hardwick, a sorority sister of Becky's at U. C. Santa Barbara many years ago. 

They took a bike ride and then had nachos for dinner at Nancy's house.

Ramsey and I slept.

Monday evening, we drove to Schaumberg (near the O'Hare airport) to meet Don and Lynette Stone for dinner at Seasons 52, a very nice restaurant. 

Don and Becky worked together at first Interstate Bank a long time ago.  He is now the owner of an investment counseling firm in Chicago.  They live in Winnetka; Schaumberg, while an hour away from Belvidere, is about halfway between Winnetka and Belvidere.  It was great fun seeing them again after what was determined to have been 16 years.

I had a wonderful piece of salmon for dinner.

Monday afternoon, a part of our electrical system failed---for the third time.  I knew the symptoms and immediately took corrective action to make the system work, though not ideally.  Tuesday morning, I started the process of trying to get the part manufacturer to replace the part immediately and under warranty.  We'll see how that works out.

Tuesday afternoon, Becky took another bike ride---this time 18 miles to Rockford.  I picked her up there, and we spent the rest of the day picking up a few things and getting ready to leave Illinois on Wednesday morning.    

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