Thursday, July 24, 2008

The wheels of cheese are turning

The morning began with cheese. You can say it's too early for cheese but I would not agree. According to advertising of the past, everything goes better with it. In fact, our hotel in Pleasant Prarie was right near the Jelly Belly Headquarters and I chose to indulge my love of cheese rather than fill myself with the sugary magic pebbles. Mom agreed. She's good like that. She knows her cheeses...I mean she's a dynamo, a real Cheese whiz. Ha ha. So off we went to Mars Cheese Castle. We sample lots of yummy cheeses. Mom loves samples as much as I do. The only thing she initially objected any thought of buying the ubiquitous Wisconsin cheese hat. But when peaking at the $20 price tag both of us were in the same frame of mind. So instead we took our picture in the store. A little side note about my mother, Sally, she gets kind of nervous when I come up with goofy ideas like this. So regardless of the fact she didn't like the 3rd or 4th picure of us in our Cheddar Chapaus or the Swiss Berets she kept whining "someone will see us. That's good.." As if you could be arrested in Wisconsin for trying on cheese hats in a gift store that you have no intention of buying. Well, stranger things have happened you know.

Then it was off to Illinois...this time we decided to stop in Oak Park Illinois, where Frank Lloyd Wright made his home and studio. So naturally, Oak Park would contain the world's largest collection of the architect's homes. We did a self-guided walking tour of all the homes on the map with this crazy little MP3 player that Mom and I both were endlessly frustrated with. It kept turning off when we paused it to cross the street. So when we rebooted it, it took quite a bit of time. But the houses were fantastic and very diverse, every inspiration from Tudor to Japanese to even Mayan influence. Amazing!
Here I am in front of Mr. Wright's home. I don't know if he was much of a party man, but I could totally see this place being the perfect spot for a backyard barbeque. Fun stuff... but it was time to get back on the road to Indiana.
Next stop: the Indiana Dunes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tuesday recap

** Please note this blog is a recap, the hotel's internet was down. So humor me.... read it like it happened today...
Monday night we didn't make it to the Indiana state line and just decided to stay the night in Ohio.

Then...after a nice stay in a surprisingly decent $32 a night motel in Perrysburg Ohio we were up and in the car. Over the Indiana state line...Now where to? A quick glance through the tour book revealed that we were not too far from South Bend Indiana... home of Notre Dame and the world famous Fighting Irish!

After some difficulty finding our way to the visitor center, Mom and I were right on time to make the walking tour of campus. Slight problem. Mom needed her hat so she rifled through the car while I ran to meet up with the tour group. There they were...but no Mom. I called out to the tour group as they headed off. One dumb numbnut heard me and never alerted anyone else. I watched the tour walk off at a quick pace while I fumbled with my cell to call Mom. They formed into tiny moving dots in the distance and disappeared around a bend. Mom and I subsequently stalked a group of people on campus for 500 yards until we realized they were not the tour group. Plan B. Get a campus map and try to give ourselves the tour.
An interesting bit of advice for those of you trying to navigate Notre Dame University....

DO NOT TRUST THE MAP. Ask everyone you see instead of trusting the map. Even the friendly groundskeeper that stopped to give us directions to various highlighted buildings said 'that map makes no sense'. Coming from a easily navigable and small upstate NY college perspective Mom and I were overwhelmed...but at our leisurely pace we plodded along. I'm a big fan of the movie Rudy. So I enjoyed every minute of this. Right down to the yummy looking school logo cookies in the cafe. The site of the golden dome was breathtaking.
NOTE TO SELF: Must watch Rudy for 101st time when back home.

Next up we headed through Illinois and bypassed it---save a quick rest-stop visit.
We crossed over into Wisconin in the late afternoon. The first stop was the visitor's center. My first reaction to Wisconsin? These people have it goin' on. Just look at this lovely line up of recycling receptacles. Seriously, I think Wisconisn has something over New York when it comes to environmental friendliness. I counted 5 batches of these recycling clusters just at this one rest stop. I've watched so many people at NY rest stops chuck plastic bottles that it's turned my stomach so this my friends, was a welcome breath of fresh air. Wisconisn, you get my vote of confidence.

At the rest stop we grabbed a bunch of those travel brochures and hotel coupon booklets. By the way if you are travelling on a road trip...this is the ONLY way to get hotels. Reservations are for the birds. Show up with that booklet and you'll save a lot of cash.
We drove into Kenosha Wisconsin and into Racine. Once you get through the dingier parts of Racine you come to a kind of cute downtown area and some really cool waterfront finds. Mom and I selected a restaurant randomly called Chartroom Charlie's which overlooked a marina. By the time we got there it was pretty late for dinner.
The parking lot was virtually empty, we almost turned around but took a second look and boy am I glad we did. Inside the restaurant was colorful strung with lights and a whimsical playground for the imaginative mood we were both in. And the food ? YUMMMMY.

Tuesday night we forked over a little more moola for a LaQuinta in Pleasant Prarie Wisconsin. Not the uber bargain from the other night, but we paid for the promise of superior internet. Supposedly, according to the advertising...La Quinta is Spanish for internet. As you can see from the lateness of this post that advertising is decidely false.
Although it pays to complain politely. Because I must say the LaQuinta manager knocked some of our bill off for the inconvenience.

Monday, July 21, 2008

End of a day's journey

What a wonderful Mom I have. She agreed to accompany me on my roadtrip before the LiveStrong Summit. The single goal of this pre-Summit roadtrip is to pick up three states (three of the four remaining to complete my goal of 30 states visited in my 30th year).

So as life's journey's often happen, the unexpected and the unplanned are often the most meaningful. We found a little town called Vermillion Ohio where we ate dinner. I have a soft spot in my heart for charming lake-side little villages and Vermillion is certainly high on my list of undiscovered jewels, for sure. Mom and I had dinner at a restaurant overlooking a river and watched the comings and goings of boaters. It was a nice way to end a day's drive. We then drove over to the public beach just in time to see the sunset over Lake Erie. Beautiful, isn't it? No really, I actually took this picture. Stay tuned. This intrepid traveller can't wait to share with you the next stops on the journey. Tomorrow's itinerary: Indiana.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Brand new blog...Check it out

Hello readers-

Insider Magazine asked me to write a blog for them about life after cancer.
I was touched that they would ask and thrilled that they would want to help bring awareness in this way. Obviously the demographic is fairly young and this could be a powerful reminder that cancer is not to be ignored by us in our "unsinkable, invincible" years.

Awareness and writing. A combo I can believe in.

They track whose blogs gets the most hits, so I'd be delighted if you added to my clicks.
I'll still post here, but this one's just a little more promoted.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Where is Obama?

It is now a little over 2 weeks until the Livestrong Summit.
I am so excited about it and I've drawn a circle on my map with Columbus in the center. I will be one of 1,000 delegates who will represent a desire to make cancer and issues related to survivorship a national priority. But there's one thing I can't quite get out of my mind.

As of this blog Senator Barack Obama has not confirmed his appearance or participation at the Summit. Senator John McCain is slated to speak in what is being titled a Presidential Townhall on Cancer. But where is OBAMA?

I've written several empassioned pleas to the Obama camps' websites and only get those cheesy automatic form letters back asking me to contribute to the campaign. Wait one minute. Obama is my guy, and I'm not ashamed to admit it...but he sure is letting me down if he doesn't show up in Columbus. What else could he have to do that's more important than this? He's making me hold my breath here...

It is so vital for the masses gathering there in Columbus to see what Senator Obama brings to the table and to know his plan for the 10 million cancer survivors of this country.
I can't imagine what could be more of a priority than making this powerful statement to those of us in the audience. There just isn't any other way around it. In order to make it clear you place cancer as a priority it's a no-brainer. But what is keeping him from signing on?

Accepting this challenge to speak out before this strong coalition of survivors, advocates and crusaders is the ultimate gesture of commitment to their fight. With this one step he would clarify his position, not just under the generic umbrella of healthcare but on a disease that takes 1,500 American lives every day and forever changes millions of others who survive.

I am afraid Senator Obama might send a strong message without saying a word. I'm not saying that this could lose him the election, but frankly, would you want an audience to think your opponent has the better plan simply just because you don't show up?
We know he has a plan...we just want to hear it.