It all started out last Saturday with a long and uneventful car ride that lasted more than ten hours. Unexciting as it was, the ride was actually as pleasant as they come, what with listening to music, reading, talking, watching movies on my iPod, writing, visiting my alternate reality, and doing a bit of driving myself.
Where was I headed? What glorious adventures awaited me?
The destination was first Milwaukee, and then Chicago. It was just me, my mom, and my three sisters, leaving the guys behind and heading out to brave two great cities.
So to Milwaukee we went. We stayed with an old friend of my mom, Amber (who went to church with my mom 20 some years ago) and her family. The two girls, Clare and Elise, are Brooke's and Tess's ages, so they became fast friends.
We were hardly expecting Amber, Jon, and their girls to spend much time with us besides letting us invade their house for two days and three nights. But the first thing they did was offer to take us out on their boat.
This being lake country, we were thrilled and all too readily agreed.
The first chance we got, we headed out to Lake Okauchee, where they had their boat. There's something magical about sailing over the water. The occasional wave slaps your face, the wind lifts through your hair, the sun glistens off the water, and the whole atmosphere breathes, "Life is good." It's thrilling, really.
I also went tubing (pulled behind the boat in--guess what?--a tube!). It was a blast, though Brooke and I, since we were in the tube together, kept knocking into each other as we soared over the waves made by the boat's wake.
Only eight people could fit in the boat, and there were nine of us in all. So my mom and I both took a turn out. Honestly, I'm so very glad I did. At first I thought I'd watch part of a movie on my iPod as I waited for them, but I got so very wrapped up in something much better: Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.
The rest of the group was gone for more than an hour, but I sat on the dock, completely content, pouring over the pages of Jane Austen's perfection. The crickets were chirping, the owls were constantly calling into the evening, and I would occasionally hear a splash as a frog jumped into the water. It was beautiful.
The main thing that struck me about Milwaukee were the colors. From the varying shades of brick to the bright windows to the turquoise lampposts and traffic lights, everything seemed splashed with color.
We walked through downtown, enjoying some shops and art, and of course some yummy food. Cherry scone = delicious.
Browsing casually through shops and such was super relaxing and fun, and by the end of it, we were more than ready for our lunch.
There's something breathtaking about seeing boats nestled quietly between the city behind and the endless water before. Makes me want to sail away.
George Watt's was next on the hit list--a cute little tea shop where we spent the afternoon. My tea wasn't spectacular, sadly, but we still had an enjoyable time.
So. We set out to see the city, and the city was seen. But soon we had to say farewell to Jon, Amber, Clare, and Elise and prepare ourselves for new adventures--and to get completely lost on our way to Chicago.
When we finally did arrive, it was late. Through a Christian travel organization, we were able to stay with a couple who lives in the suburbs of Chicago.
Their house (or rather, half a house...they lived in the bottom and rented out the top...we were crammed) is within walking distance of the "L." The L is shortened from elevated subway, and it's Chicago's huge system of public transportation. Think of a subway, but above ground. Kinda like a train.
Riding the L made the Chicago experience complete. Our few days there wouldn't have been the same without it. I loved it, and we had many adventures because of it. Despite some confusion in getting our L passes, we got it done at last.
We were ready to take on that huge, magnificent, and wild city known as Chicago. Here we come.
ps--photos with my watermark (most of them) taken by me. the few others mostly taken by Cassie.