We just got back from an awesome trip!  Every few years we do this loop through Chicago and Indiana – it isn’t very relaxing but it is a ton of fun.  In six days we stayed in four different beds each, saw fourteen friends, and mooched off of sixteen relatives ranging from age 6 months to 96 years. Whew!

I hypermiled the whole way so I got 89 miles/gallon by pulse-and-gliding and auto-stopping and never had to fill up the car (mom – don’t believe everything you read on the Internet).

Favorite parts of the trip:
Colleen…the lazy river in a water park at Six Flags Great America
Christopher…buying a souvenir bear and sunglasses in Chicago
Megan…going on the double-decker grand carousel at Six Flags Great America (10 stories high!)
Beth…jumping on the beds everywhere we stayed
Dave…friends, family, food, fun

Ok…here come the pics…go get some popcorn and enjoy the show…

How often do you get to hear a macho manly man say “I hope you enjoyed your ride. I’ll be around momentarily to unbuckle you from your fruit cup.”?


Scary ride – cliff ahead!!!


I used to work with Millie in Chicago at KPMG. She and her husband, Bugz (Bogdan), are 110% Polish and made us a great meal…pierogis, golabki, kielbasa, and lots and lots of vodka (well…not so much on the vodka). It was an awesome meal -and another old coworker from KPMG (Dave A.) and his wife also came over. Dave and I were actually roommates on my first big assignment in Pittsburgh – it was fun talking about old times.

We spent the day at Six Flags. Megan kept calling Millie – “Mrs. Bugz” – it was funny.


Beth grew up with a goofy looking Aeridale Terrier and I grew up with magestic, elegant Miniature Schnauzer…and here are Millie and Bugz’ dogs…what a coincidence!


Two years ago we bought reading glasses at the American Girl Place store in Chicago. No lie…within 1 minute of getting home they were broken. Colleen bought glasses again…hopefully they survive the trip home.


We spent a night in downtown Chicago. We ate at a few of our old favorites…Giordanos (Beth’s favorite Chicago-style stuffed pizza), Bela Bacino’s on Wacker (Dave’s favorite heart-healthy Chicago-style stuffed pizza, and Scoozis.

Christopher had to use the bathroom at Giordanos. I thought we were doing a #1 but soon learned that wasn’t the case. So there I am left to hang out in the bathroom….but I soon wandered outside of the restroom to look at some photos on the wall so as to abide by the unwritten rules of urinal/male-bathroom ettiquette (caution for the kiddies – a bunch of crude stuff on this site too):

(1) NO Talking, unless it’s a good friend… but even then, keep it terse and unemotional. This ain’t no clubhouse.
(2) I don’t think I need to tell you, absolutely NO touching of anyone other than yourself. A touch of another’s elbow is of the highest offense.
(3) NO Singing. Period.
(4) Glances are for purposes of acknowledgment only…”Yeah, I see you there. I will not look again”.

After a few minutes I walk back into the bathroom and another guy (older than me) follows me in. Christopher is in a stall and I shout out to him in a slow, drawn-out, sing-songy type of voice that you use when speaking to a child – “How ya doin’ buddy?”. The guy who followed me in to the restroom in the meantime had gone to a urinal and had already started his business…but instead of Christopher replying to me this guy replied to me instead with a “pretty good and you?”. I was clearly in violation of rule #1 (had I been talking to him), but if somebody else calls you buddy while you’re at the urinal and asks how it’s going you…you never, ever reply to them. It was funny when Christopher then replied to me and I could hear the guy at the urinal chuckle to himself (which should be rule #5 – no chuckling to yourself while at the urinal). And, of course, I never said another word to him…because I know the rules.

Here we are playing at the ESPN Zone.


I turn my back for one second and Beth has the kids jumping on the beds. This almost makes up for the $350/night + $55/parking we spent. I hope they have to replace springs in all 3 of these beds!!!


Millenium Park was finally open (parts of it were under construction on the last two trips through town – how hard is it to make a 110-ton, 66 foot long, seamless, shiny jelly bean anyway – common!). Here we are at Cloud Gate – you can walk under it and look at it from many angles. It is actually really cool – I may try to make one out of tinfoil scraps in the backyard.



We told the kids not to get wet because we had lunch reservations in 15 minutes…they all nodded and said they completely understood…and here they are about 10 seconds later playing in the water in the Crown Fountain.


Chicago really energizes me. I love the town and people and food and atmosphere and activity and friendliness and safety and sights and smells. We would both like to live in Chicago sometime again in our lives. Driving anywhere near Chicago is the complete opposite – blah!!! I don’t know how people stand to have cars and sit in all of that traffic.

An hour into Indiana I start to feel home (as much as any place feels like home to me). Here is Lobdell-Emery where I spent a summer working. I was a union worker on a car line – greasy, dirty, hot, and sparks flying everywhere and burning your skin. My dad said I should get a job in a factory so I would know what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life…it was a fun/interesting/learning experience but I think it can quickly take years off of your life. For instance, count the windows in this building…


Mmmm…greasy giant tenderloins.


A trip to Grandma’s wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t cross the dam road and throw some dam sticks into the dam stream.


My dad’s 69 Cougar has been in Rochester for the past year or two getting worked on by my cousin. This is his baby and it is looking good – except for the fact that you have to open the door with a coat hanger 🙂 My cousin Brent is doing an awesome job – it will be the coolest, green, 40-year-old car out there soon!!! And throw in the blip-blip-blip turn signals – that car is cherry. Dad- the bad news is that is already taken. The good news is that his car looks like crap compared to yours, although I must admit some of his Sturgis pictures distracted me…



I don’t know how my dad or any of his siblings still have all of their digits. This is the fan that they grew up with. Solid metal blades with no real guard to prevent little fingers from wandering. I guess it only takes once and you learn where not to put your fingers again…


They don’t make ’em like they used to…(thankfully)…yikes…I didn’t see any of these in the American Girl Place!


And here’s that other special woman in my life…Grandma T! I’ll have to write more about her later – truly an inspiration in my life. Just got her driver’s license renewed for two years and has been out racing for pink slips 😉


Aunt B. Go Purdue!!! Boiler Up!!!


A trip to Rochester isn’t complete without visiting the Flagpole. I guess their ice cream has changed (for the worse per the pig’s dinner experts) but we ate it just the same.


Our only real daytime rain of the trip. Amazingly the rain kept missing us the entire week. The sun followed us around despite the pessimistic weatherpeople.



This sign has been here for years and years. It’s fun to watch your kid’s faces light up when they “get” it. Bodily function humor never gets old.


And we finally made it to our last stop – Indianapolis. Home of Aunt Becka and “the shark” (as Megan kept calling him). It only took him dunking her once in the pool for her to now run in fear every time she hears his voice. The shark told me repeatedly that he will never visit this web site, which is good, because now I can say whatever I want about him 🙂

Megan with her new baby 🙂 I think the tongue-sticking-out thing is all from Beth…did I ever do that growing up?


Colleen getting braver…


This doll looked so life-like it freaked all of us out at some point during our stay.


I didn’t know who all would show up until we actually got to Indy, but three old roommates were able to drive over and spend some time hanging out (from Bloomington and Lafayette). It was a great day – hanging out by the pool, relaxing, catching up on some old times, perfect weather, great food & drink – that’s what this trip was all about and this was a perfect way to end it. I am very grateful to Aunt Becka and the shark for opening their home and pool up to us. Thank you!!! Here are most of the kids from that day…Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Doc, Happy, Bashful, Grumpy – note: the order is taken from here so save your hatemail 🙂


Colleen and I rocked out on the Wii. This was our first time playing on the Wii – it was fun!!!


The shark getting Megan…


Getting ready for the big fireworks show (thanks cousin Tom!)


Double trouble…


And finally, one of the very few signs of intelligent life in Indiana 🙂


4 Responses to “Chi-ca-go”

  1. Brooks Thompson says:

    What a great trip you all had – now I wish I would have joined you!!! I can’t wait for two more weeks to see you all, but especially Colleen, Christopher and Miss Megan. Colleen looks so grown up with her cute new hair style. Christopher and Megan look so much older too – can’t believe it’s been so long since we’ve seen them. David, you’ll have to teach me how to do the auto-stopping thing in your car when I’m out there???!!!

    Dad and I will have to go to Chicago sometime – it looks like so much fun. I would love to see that neat fountain in Millenium Park. So glad you got to see everyone in Indiana – next time I’ll definitely join you!!!

  2. Grandpa T says:

    Finally got around to log onto your blog. (I took your advice and went down stairs and brought up the bag of kettle corn.) Looks like a great time was had by all ! ! You’ll never regret the time you take to enjoy family and friends. Chicago looks even better than when we visited it a few years ago with you. We’ll definitely have to make it back there sometime. Maybe that would be a good place for a “family outing” one of these years.

    Thanks for all the pics – enjoyed them all. Do you have to bribe the kids often? They all seem quite willing to pose – that’s nice.

    Keep up the good work on the blog. It obviously requires some time and effort, but we enjoy seeing what your family is up to and watching our grandchildren grow up. Wish we were closer so we could see all of you more often. Also enjoy the links to other sites. Hadn’t seen the urinal rules before, but I think I’ve been fairly good at abiding by them. Will have to make a copy of the positioning rules, so I’ll know which one is most appropriate.

    If you do teach mom the auto-stopping thing, make sure she understands that it only works when you’re driving a Mazda 3.

  3. Aunt Katherine says:

    Hey! I love this post. Makes me wish we could have joined you. Looks like a great time overall. I love the picture of the kids and you on the Wiggles Ride, where you’re all making scared faces, and little Megan is sitting in the back looking bored… too funny. I also love the picture of the kids reflection in the “jelly bean”. You look good behind the wheel of the Cougar. Can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures (hint, hint).

  4. Dave says:

    Sounds like everybody wants to come next time – awesome. Aunt K – Megan calls that her “mean” face and she said she was doing it on purpose. Stinker. That jelly-bean-reflection picture is the wallpaper on my computer (I know…it should be the green shag carpeting…sorry…are you using that one?). What other pictures are you “hint, hinting” at getting? You want more pictures?!?!?

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