Somewhere between Sycamore’s Pumpkin Festival and Indianapolis, we found an ounce of time to take a walk down my own memory lane. We took a brief trip to Naperville, a town that I lived in while in high school, to make an obligatory drive-by of my old home. With a trailer attached, navigating the insanely crazy streets of the very populated Chicago suburb was tricky but, as usual, Chris was brilliant.
When my parents lived here, we lived on a lovely neighborhood street where cars went entirely too fast. As a teenager, I was mortified as my mom would yell “Slow down!” to the passers-by. Mortified. But, after several car accidents caused by speeding around a sharp curve, and many other moms in the neighborhood putting up a good fight with the town council, the town put in traffic circles throughout the neighborhood in an attempt to force cars to reduce their speed. I’m not sure how effective the traffic circles really are for fast drivers, but I can tell you that the small circles put up a good challenge for Airstreams. We made it around the circle, but not before Chris complained about this unpleasant feature of the neighborhood. It was then I had to explain that his mother-in-law was the culprit.
We drove by the house and I was quick to take several pictures (we had a parade of cars behind us) while desperately wanting to pull over, knock on the door, and invite myself in to my former abode. Do they know and appreciate the memories that I have of that home? Spoiling my dog the night before he had to be put to sleep, white Christmases spent with the whole family, my nephew humming “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” as I walked down the stairs in my college cap and gown, and introducing Chris to my parents for the first time. So many memories flooded my brain as we made our quick drive-by.
We then went into historic downtown Naperville. The town definitely has charm with its quaint shopping area and beautiful riverwalk area that offers paddleboats in the summer and ice skating in the winter. I LOVE the Riverwalk and spent many hours walking the trail and enjoying the sights and sounds of the town’s people. Unfortunately, the town has become inundated with overpriced shopping and possibly too many people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still cute and I love to walk the streets and browse the shops, but it lacks that warm feeling. Everyone is too busy to smile and say hello, instead intensely focused on their Blackberries while sipping their “grande, non-fat, half-caf, extra caramel, caramel macchiato” from Starbucks. (Yes, I speak Starbuckian. Fluently.) We somehow found a place to park the Airstream, took a few minutes to walk around, and then I realized that aside from the adorable independent bookstore in town that I absolutely love, the majority of shops and eating establishments were new to me. I felt almost no connection. So, we moved on.
For the next stop down memory lane, we went to my college, Olivet Nazarene University, in well-known (said with extreme sarcasm) Bourbonnais, Illinois. At this point it was dark and we were starving, so I forced Chris to run around campus with me as I pointed out buildings and excitedly told stories. It’s a small campus so the tour only took ten minutes. It was as though I was in college again. Has it really been ten years? I felt the eyes of the students on me. Did I look old? Were they secretly laughing at these two people who were wandering around campus taking pictures? Did I really care? No. It was a delightful moment.
We finally made our way to Indianapolis that night and pulled into Lake Haven Retreat RV park really, really late. I had emailed the park in advance and they were kind enough to leave the information for us in a mailbox and let me pay the next morning. We awoke early the next day to find that our Lake Haven Retreat was in a very industrial area. It was neither a lake, nor a haven, nor a retreat. But, it was an RV park and it provided us exactly what we needed. It was affordable, had laundry, super-clean facilities, necessary amenities, and easy access to Indianapolis and another one of Chris’ family’s favorite eating establishments: Gray’s Brother Cafeteria. If we don’t get out of here soon, the Midwest is going to make me fat.