Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Anticipation can be such sweet torture. Waiting for something wonderful you know is about to happen. As a child, waiting for Santa to come; waiting outside of Rip's in Ladd to go in and get a table and get your fried chicken (it's an Illinois thing), etc. These days I find myself living in anticipation of our summer vacation this year.

If "home is where the heart is", then Sheridan, Illinois, will always be part "home" to me. We lived there for just 13 years -- but it was the home where we raised our children, where we made good friends and where I wanted to grow old. We've been in Georgia for 18 years now and I love our life here...but Sheridan will always be "home", too. Some of the good memories I have from living there were the 4th of July celebrations. They always have a great parade. Our kids got more candy on the side of the road on the 4th of July than they did Trick-or-Treating for Halloween! Those people know how to parade! Then, when Jerry coached the girls' little league teams, we would be IN the parade...and throwing candy. One year we had "Put Me In, Coach" playing the entire time. I will never forget that song. The only thing they do better than the parade is the fireworks. They are AMAZING...every single year. We haven't been back there for a 4th of July in 15 years, but it is on my mind -- and in my heart -- every year no matter where I am or what I'm doing. (This picture was taken while waiting for the fireworks on July 4th, 1993.) My BFF Shirley has forgiven me for the picture I posted here earlier, so we are re-invited to stay with them. Their house is on the parade route, so I should get lots of candy just by sitting in a lawn chair in the front yard.

We will be rolling into Sheridan on the 3rd of July and staying for a few days. "Timing is everything" they say, and we have timed this just right. Not only will we be there for the holiday festivities, but for some really good eating. Uncle Ken (Shirley's hubby) is going to Grill Master School in Denver in June. I'm sooo looking forward to finding out what he learned. I can just picture us sitting on their beautiful patio, sipping margaritas (did you know they are great with a shot of Amaretto on the side?) and sampling the Grill Mater's fare. I know the air is going to smell like "home" to me. Beyond that, I hope to see lots of friends that we haven't seen in too long and enjoy being with these fun folks again for a while.

That, in itself, would be a wonderful trip...and something worthy of anticipation. But that is only half of this year's vacation story.

Two years ago, our friends from Illinois -- Bob and Joan -- flew down here and the 4 of us drove to Charleston and Savannah. Jerry and I had been there before, but we enjoyed sharing it with friends. We all enjoyed these two beautiful, old, historic southern cities...and the B&Bs we found for lodging. So last year, we said, "Let's go someplace again." It was in the middle of summer, so we opted for a cooler destination and headed for the mountains of North Carolina. We went to the towns of Blowing Rock, and Asheville. Found two more really neat B&Bs and, of course, had to go to The Biltmore House. Another great trip. Two such nice vacation trips had us asking, "Where can we go this year?" I figured that it was our turn to travel north to meet up with them and decided I wanted to vacation in Chicago!

Growing up, I lived about 80 miles southwest of Chicago. But I had an aunt and uncle who lived in the city and we would go see them occasionally. It always truly was an "occasion". I can remember them taking us to Grant Park to see Buckingham Fountain lit up at night...and their apartment was within walking distance of the Museum of Science of Industry. I can still remember the first time I saw Colleen Moore's Doll House and went down into the coal mine. When our girls were in school, their 8th grade trip was to Chicago. Since I worked at the school, Jerry and I got to be chaperones the year Jess' class went (She could have done without that!). We stayed at the Palmer House Hotel, ate dinner at The Berghoff restaurant (now no longer open), visited China Town and went to a Cubs' game. Great times. Great memories.

Joan said that she and Bob had taken the train into Chicago for their anniversary this year and had a fun day. We agreed that Chicago is a neat city and would be fun to visit together. So we've been making plans. While looking at hotel accommodations, Joan said, "Too bad we can't get a B&B in Chicago...we've had such good luck with them." Well...we found one! We have reservations at the Gold Coast Inn B&B and we can't wait to see it. It is a renovated 1873 brick town home only a 10-minute stroll from the Magnificent Mile. We are envisioning ourselves eating breakfast while enjoying the view of the lush, 2-level garden.

For the past couple of years I've been mentioning to Jerry that I'd like to see a Cubs' game at Wrigley Field again before they tear it down...or it falls down. So we have tickets to a baseball game, too. And the Cubs are playing AWESOME this year. Keep it up, boys...I'm on my way! They're having a promotion that evening and the first 10,000 fans get a 1908 Cubs' hat. I plan to get to the park early. There are so many cool and wonderful things to do there that it was hard to decide. But among our planned activities are: strolling Navy Pier and getting a cheese burger ("Cheeburger, cheeburger...cheeps/no fries" for those of you old enough to remember the early days of Saturday Night Live), taking the architectural tour by boat, going to see Jersey Boys, and walking through Millennium Park. Those are our "musts" at this point...but we're leaving room for the Adler Planetarium, a walk over to Oak Street Beach, getting a deep dish Chicago pizza, or anything else that strikes our fancy. We will be taking the train in from Dwight, and that will be fun, too.

So we are going to bite the bullet and put $4.00 per gallon gas in the car and drive up north. Wikipedia defines anticipation as "an emotion involving pleasure in considering some expected or longed-for good event." Yep. I would say that fits!


Jackie said...

Be sure to walk barefoot in that great IL grass!

Jess said...

If nothing else, maybe it'll provide for some more up-to-date pictures of BFF Shirley!! :)

(btw- you need to check out the latest Mercy Me clip - Bart's sportin' a sweet Cubs shirt) :)


jodi said...

You are going to have so much fun!

Squirrelly Shirley said...

We are looking forward to you trip to Sheridan too! We have had so much rain that everything is so lush and green. Hope it stays that way for your visit.