Thursday, April 25, 2013


My family pretty much all hails from a five mile radius of one another in Illinois.  Growing up in Phoenix, my brother and I were always the "odd cousins out" and it's been a slow go getting Bahb to meet everyone.

SOOOO, when my grandpa's 90th birthday came around and my mom (who lives in Maryland) decided she would go out to Illinois to be with everyone, it sounded like the perfect time to drag that sweet lovin' man of mine out there to meet the whole kit and caboodle.

The first day we arrived we puttered around Chicago a bit, and it really reinforced my hatred for crowded cities.  We both are decidedly spoiled, as even though the Phoenix area is rather large, we were both raised within a mile or two from the edge of town and the start of a seemingly endless expanse of beautiful, open desert.

Perhaps if we spent more time in Chicago I would have been more enamored with the city, but as it was, we only mustered up the energy to get over to Millennium Park and see that damn bean.  But it made for what is easily the best picture of Bahb ever... look at that face!

The rain was rather relentless throughout our trek through Chicago, but on the walk back to the car we got blueberry macarons and coffee, and it helped warm our soggy little souls.

About that rain... holy hell.  Illinois was a soggy shit show.  There was flooding everywhere.  I heard on the news that 44 counties declared a state of emergency.  During our drive from Chicago on the 80 we saw the extent of damage clearly.  Every little town looked just like the last; the tops of street signs sticking out of water, ruined cars that had been long since abandoned littering the streets.  Our little destination, LaSalle, was no different.  The Illinois River reached record levels and washed into the city  further than it ever has before, and Bahb and I were left to marvel in amazement.

The houses of my aunts and uncles and grandpa and cousins all fared well luckily, save for some slight flooding in the basement, so our trip, along with my Grandpa's birthday celebration commenced as planned.

Bahb and I had some family activities to attend to, like my Grandpa's birthday dinner, a large family BBQ on Sunday and an all-day all-women (plus one very understanding and patient Bahb) shopping excursion, but besides that, we were mainly left to explore on our own.

We drove around county roads, getting lost and thrown all around by a wonky GPS.  We stopped in little ice cream shops and found a soccer field and soccer ball to entertain ourselves.

I showed him all of the places from my childhood, like my grandmother's house.  My Noni passed away on Christmas this year, and it ached way more than I thought it would to drive by her house and know I can't go inside and that her fabulous chocolate chip cookies aren't sitting there waiting for me.  That house always made me happy; that field on the  right could occupy me for hours, whether I was just laying and reading or catching fireflies as the sun set.  We would always joke that we flew 1500 miles to sit on a porch, because when we would visit we always found ourselves sitting on the porch in rocking chairs for hours.

But on that day, we just drove by and I took a few pictures.

We also paid a visit to another place nearby that I have found myself surprisingly fond of over the years, Lock 3 of the I&M (or is it Hennepin...) Canal.  That particular area did not fare the deluge well, however. The parking lot was flooded, the water levels were at least twice as high as usual in the canal and the influx of flow had taken its toll on the sidewalks which were, at least partially, washed away in areas.  Lock 3 is usually lush and overgrown and has a meandering, paved path that practically begs for it to be leisurely strolled upon.  Although the weather had yet to warm up and restore the area to all of its green, leafy glory, we still ambled along the path lazily until we were brought back to reality by the amount of ticks we saw and hurried back to the safety of our economy rental car.

Another area not even remotely restored to an iota of its potential beauty is Matthiessen State Park.  When the leaves fill in, I can't imagine a more striking place.  The waterfalls and vines and dense covering of leaves makes it as close to a rainforest as you can get in the middle of goddamn nowhere Illinois.  Maybe its due to me being an Arizona kid who sees very little green at any given point in time, but this place is a fucking sanctuary in summer.

During the tail end of winter, however, it leaves a little bit to be desired.  Meh... But we still wandered around and saw some waterfalls.  It was oddly reminiscent to hiking in war-torn Poland, at least as near as we could figure.  It is remarkable the difference a month will make to this place...

So Bahb and I had some crummy weather (some snow, quite a bit or rain, temperatures in the 40's), some crummy scenery (dead trees as far as the eye can see and endless amounts of mud), a bit of family drama (as can be expected when seven female relatives are thrust together for five days), an astoundingly low-quality rental car and a GPS possessed by Satan, but I love the time we got to spend together.  

A man who is willing to enter with you into a veritable treasure trove of familial issues and weirdness just to make you happy and get to know your relatives is such a goddamn keeper it's not even funny.  

But next time... we're probably going to pool our resources for a bit longer and head to Spain... :)


  1. Aww haha love this post! Also love the picture of you guys at the bean :D but it seems like you did have a nice trip all in all :) (btw love the green pants too :D)

  2. You. Guys. Are. So. Freaking. Cute.


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