Showing posts from October, 2015

Fall vacation: Day 7

Last day of vacation. Mellow. Productive. Fun.

We took the car back to the rental car place, then picked up one last SuperDawg at Michael's request. I wrote a lot today; Lori read a lot today. The boys went for a bike ride and saw a movie with the grandfather. I took a long walk on the forest preserve bike trail and back through Wildwood. Dad bought Lou Malnati's pizza for dinner one more time, and I'm again thoroughly full. We played Ticket to Ride, and Ben won again. We're just about packed and ready to go for our morning flight.

This trip was way too short -- we may have spoiled ourselves on our previous trips that lasted 10 or more days. Or maybe we just needed a longer break after a busy two months. But it was a great trip back nonetheless. I'll be sad to leave but will be glad to get home and focus on the rest of the year. Only 9 1/2 weeks until Christmas, 72 days until 2016.

Time to fly in about 10 hours ...

Autumns: 1


The leaves is Chicago seem greener than they should be for Oct. 19. Of course, they were completely green in front of our house when we left Salt Lake; even the maple that goes a pretty shade of maroon hadn't quite changed. Perhaps we will see more color when we return. Here, there is mostly green with some yellow. The lawn in front of my father's house will need to be raked soon -- that hasn't changed over the years at this date -- but it's not covered yet.

Autumn technically stretches all the way into December, but don't kid yourself, Thanksgiving is the mental end of the season. That puts mid-October right in the middle of it.

September and October of eighth grade may have been the most pleasant months of any fall in my youth. Every memory is a sunny day, the scant need for a sweatshirt, and the leaves.

And a song. And a music video.

The music of this fall keeps coming back to me, over and over. I would tape "Friday Night Videos" and watch it …

Fall vacation, day 6

This morning, I got to enjoy the Madison I remembered so well.

We went to the Badger game yesterday, and that's part of the Madison I remember, too. We walk/drove through some of our favorite neighborhoods -- the ones we would have moved to if we stayed in Wisconsin instead of moving to Utah in 2000.

I used to walk a lot in Madison, for exercise and just to get out. I still do, but the Madison walks, for some reason, still resonate. Because I worked so early, I had whole afternoons to get outside. My Friday mornings were like this too on those weeks I worked Friday nights. My two favorite walks were the cross country skiing trails at Elver Park and the long trail at Governor Nelson State Park on the north side of Lake Mendota. Both were wooded and/or rustic trails that provided a nice hike and a chance to think, surrounded by a little bit of nature.

The condo we stayed at this weekend is near the Pheasant Ride Conservancy in Middleton. The land borders a Middleton Park and a state…

Fall vacation: Day 5

Jump around! Jump around" Jump up, jump up, and get down!

We took the boys to their first University of Wisconsin football game today. This was also our first in 16 years -- since the last fall we lived in Madison. We were looking forward to the experience as much as them, maybe more, especially for Lori, who was attending games in the 1980s. We woke up early, bundled up (the temperature really dropped today, even with the sun shining), and headed for Camp Randall Stadium.

Our first stop was Target on University Avenue and Midvale Boulevard to get cash and a couple supplies. We weaved our way through the West Side, past the church Lori and I were married in, and parked near West High School. I didn't think we'd get a spot close, and the mile-or-so walk through one of our favorite Madison neighborhoods was nice. We got to the stadium and witnessed the usual flurry of Game Day activity. We got a free hat and mittens from a Toyota promotion and saw Ron Dayne. We witnessed th…

Fall vacation: Day 4

We drove from Chicago to Madison today in advance of attending the University of Wisconsin football game Saturday. I needed to work in the car, so Lori drove in a trip that seemed amazingly quick. After some perfect fall weather, temperatures had dropped a bit, so the experience was a little chilly but still fun. We ate at Ella's for lunch (meeting Lori's parents there) and drove down to campus, where we wandered up Bascom Hill, walked along Lake Mendota, ate ice cream in the union, and went to the bookstore to purchase Badger gear for the homecoming game.

Afterward, we went to the condo in Middleton we reserved on Airbnb. Driving down University Avenue for the first time in 15 years was an experience -- I had completely forgotten about Lombardino's and Octopus Car Wash. After settling in, we drove to Waunakee for a fish fry dinner at Rex's Innkeeper. Back at the condo, Michael and I watched a "Family Ties" episode that was ironically about the kids using the…

Fall vacation: Day 3

Almost every year when I come back to Chicago, I do something trying to reinvigorate a memory from years past. I've visited my old grade school or the park I used to hang out at. I've taken the drive into my old neighborhood that my dad and I made every day for a month after we moved farther out into the city. Even Wednesday night, I hiked into the woods where we ran cross country meets.

Thursday, I tried something different -- recreating a memory not from my childhood, but from the experience of my son and me.

In 2006, we were in Chicago for a friend's wedding, and Michael and I came back a few days earlier while Lori and 4-month-old Ben stayed in Salt Lake City. My parents and grandma got to spend some extra time with Michael, and I got a few days of break that I desperately needed at a particularly stressful period of work. On two of those nights, my sister Kate had soccer practice on the large field next to Taft High School. With nothing else to do, we tagged along, an…

Fall vacation, day 2

It never fails: After a long stretch of craziness, the first day of vacation, no matter how much you intend it to be chock full of excitement and adventure, is a catch-up day to relax.

Today was that day. And boy, was it needed.

I slept soundly last night and woke up at 8:30. I had a little work I needed to do, but once I finished, I wasn't in a hurry to go full-throttle on vacation. Neither was Lori. We picked up SuperDawg for lunch, which was yummy, and the two of us did a little shopping (I bought a Cubs hat but couldn't find a W flag for under $20). The boys had a super fun day with their Grandpa, walking dogs, playing basketball and going for a bike ride. I manged to get a little walk into Bunker Hill woods (and saw four deer, including a buck) and also managed a little nap. We played two games of Ticket to Ride (I won once and Ben won once) and had cheeseburgers and salad for dinner.

I'm planning on writing more tomorrow, and I do have to get a few hours of work in. …

Fall vacation, day 1

We flew to Chicago today, and there's not too much to report -- we took a 5 p.m. flight, so when we finally got into town, we just went to my dad's house and settled in for the night. The flight seemed super quick. I managed to get a little work done, and also was able to confirm through the Southwest WiFi channel that the Cubs clinched their NLDS series against the Cardinals with a 6-4 victory. The atmosphere was cool when we emerged from the Midway terminal -- an unfamiliar feeling for us given we are used to visiting during the summer and being blasted with heat and humidity as soon as we first step outside.

One day down, seven more to go ...