Picking up where I left off, Day 2 was pretty uneventful. We left the comfort of the Comfort Inn and headed back out on the road. This day, however, was the worst of the entire trip. Why? I can sum that up in one word: Chicago. Chicago is probably a great city, as far as cities go. I know that it is far superior to The Mogadishu of the Midwest where I grew up, but driving in and around it is a pain in the Fourth Point of Contact. First, there are the toll roads. Now, one of the things that has dimmed my enthusiasm for this trip is the fact that I have made it four times in eighteen months. During that time, the tolls have doubled, without any discernible improvement in the roads or traffic flow. Moreover, last time, I made the mistake of getting caught in The Loop, the highway that circumvents the city proper and, as near as I can tell, contains a perpetual traffic jam.
Fortunately for us, our new GPS managed to route us away from that furball and took us a faster way. That is not to say that it wasn't a long, arduous drive, but at least we didn't have to go through the middle of town. Also, we managed to find one awesome Gyro's place; Chiggy's Gyros. They make a spicy gyro that is a little bundle of Heaven on pita bread. I mean, I love living where we live. The scenery, the people, and the environment are all topnotch. BUT, I sometimes long for some ethnic food. Something with spice and flavor. On the prairie, people think spicy food is food that contains salt and pepper. We do have a pretty good Chinese Restaurant, but a gyro is just a thing of legends to the plains people. Chiggy's, on the other hand, makes gyros the way God intended them to be made; fresh ingredients, hot, and too much meat to fit into the pita bread. PLUS, the spicy one is, well, spicy. It was sooo good, I made us turn around and get seconds. After that brief interlude, we continued on our way.
We drove for what seemed like an eternity until we finally arrived at the home that my father-in-law shares with his new wife. Being exhausted, we unpacked our stuff, put the kids to bed, and went to bed ourselves. My in-laws, ever the cordial hosts, provided the most comfortable night's sleep we had had for a couple of days; soft bed, quiet room, and big, comfy, blankets. Which brought us to:
We woke up, had breakfast, and went to the John Ball Zoo, where we met up with sister number three, The Peacemaker.
There are a total of four girls in the family, whom I have titled in my own mind, in order of birth, Central Planning, The Sleep Nazi, The Peacemaker, and The Fireball. My wife, Central Planning, is one of those people that just naturally, almost uncontrollably, organizes things. She has a spreadsheet to keep track of her spreadsheets. I can honestly say that my life would be a mess without her. The Sleep Nazi was christened that by her sisters. When it's bedtime, IT. IS. BEDTIME. And woe be unto the unfortunate soul that awakens her before she is ready, for her wrath will rain down upon them like ash from a volcano. Other than that, she's a sweetheart. Her husband, Dr. Teeth, is a dentist and is a joy to be around. He's charismatic, engaging, and fun. The Peacemaker is, as the name indicates, the one that irons out the disagreements between family members. She's also ordained as a Pastor (a process which had its own unique brand of BS thrown her way). Her husband, The Prof is a teacher. Being trapped in a building with dozens of kids all day is a small slice of Hell to me, but he does it and loves it. The Fireball is, ummmm, volatile. Most of the time, she's sweet, fun, and a hoot to talk to. BUT, occasionally, she blows up and the heat drives you away. For awhile. It's hard to stay away for long. Her husband, Long Drink of Silence, is perfect for her and a heckuva nice guy on top of it.
Where was I? Oh! The zoo. The main zoo attraction (for me) was the pool where they had stingrays swimming around. If you stuck your hand in the water, were real still, and patient, you occasionally would feel one under your hand as it passed by. The problem was, this was a new exhibit and the stingrays weren't too crazy about the idea, so they stayed in a nice, tight, little circle out of everyone's reach. Diswan was mightily put out by this as he wanted to touch a stingray. Their evasion of his efforts made him more angry and upset, I think, about being rejected. I guess being rejected by a fish is a big blow to a ten-year-old's ego, so I took him aside and said, "How would you feel if a thousand people a day wanted to touch you while you were swimming?" He looked off into the distance for a minute ( I swear I could actually hear the gears turning) and replied, "Good point." My oldest is nothing if not logical. All in all, it was a good time, both ours and The Preacher's kids got along well, and it was a nice, relaxing experience.
Afterwards, we all went over to The Preacher's house where she and her husband spoiled us with an abundance of awesome food and good conversation. The Prof, and I both enjoy movies and books, so it was refreshing to talk to someone with whom I had something in common. It was tough to leave (literally, I was so full that getting into the car was a chore.) but leave we had to. From there, we went to spend time with The Sleep Nazi and her husband, Dr. Teeth.
Next: Inferiority Complexes and More Food.