Saturday, September 4, 2010

Days 15 and 16: Wisconsin and Illinois

Thanks Wisconsin!

"Google says that if we don't speed a little we're going to get there three minutes late" Mark said.

After leaving Minneapolis we'd driven down to Wisconsin to visit with our friend John (now known as Brother Stephen, but we still think of him as John). About two years ago John left Philadelphia to pursue his calling to become a monk, and his order keeps a hermitage in the small Wisconsin town of De Soto, WI. John was very happy to see us, fed us copiously, and peppered us with questions about the outside world (Project Runway is now an hour and a half! And sorry, Ugly Betty went downhill).

On the way to the hermitage.

Also on the way to the hermitage.

The hermitage.

Atticus communes with some art in the hermitage.

View from the hermitage. I just like writing "hermitage".

Atticus relaxes in front of the Mississippi.

Mark and John at the roadhouse for dinner.

Roadhouse decor.

After bragging to John about how good we are at getting up early, we woke up late and scrambled to shower, pack, and wolf down a great breakfast that John had prepared for us. Soon we were driving down a very pleasant road that runs alongside the Mississippi River, and about half an hour into the trip Mark was able to get a signal on his iPhone. This was when he said,

"Google says that if we don't speed a little we're going to get there three minutes late."

I know that I have mentioned before that I am originally from Long Island. My first driver's license was issued by the state of New York. For those of you who don't know what that implies, when someone says, "Google says that if we don't speed a little we're going to get there three minutes late," I hear, "DRIVE!!! DRIVE LIKE THE WIND!!! BECOME THE MANIAC SPEED DEMON THAT YOU SO ESSENTIALLY ARE!!!! GO! GO! GO!!!!!!!!!" All the years of living in Philadelphia melted away and I was, once more, a New York driver--pushy, foul-mouthed, with little to no regard for posted traffic laws.

Now I'm not proud of speeding or hurling obscenities at other motorists (although seriously, drivers of Wisconsin, would it kill you to lay off the cell phones?) but the thought of being late to an event was, again, horrifying to me. One day, something will happen that is beyond my control and I will be late, but so help me, today was not going to be that day. We arrived at Wonderland Books and Toys in Rockford with our hearts racing and our eyes wild, and with ten minutes to spare.

We drove past cheese.

We made it to Illinois.

We resisted any urge to stop.

We made it!

And thank goodness for our rampant law-breaking, because every minute spent at Wonderland was great. The kids were funny and asked good questions, the booksellers were really enthusiastic, and there was free ice cream. I swear, we are going to be more mindful of our alarm clocks.

Display at Wonderland.

Look! A line! I don't like to stand in lines, but I'm somehow okay with other people standing in lines to see me.

Stephanie, me, Renae, and Erin reading some books.

After the event we drove very, very slowly and carefully to Glen Ellyn to visit with my old friend Eric and meet his younger daughter, Ari, for the first time.

Eric and Ari, being cute.

Tomorrow, we head in to Chicago, but for tonight we play Rock Band with Eric. I've never played before, but if I'm any bit as good as I was at Big Buck Hunter at the roadhouse with Mark and John, then we're in for a rough evening.

Brother Stephen is an excellent shot. I kept missing elk and hitting raccoons. And trees. And cows. And air.

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