Monday, July 26, 2010

There's No Place Like Home.....Day 11

I know, from the lack of frantic emails from any of you, that you all know I was in a motel that had poor WiFi service last night.  There were at least 3 people in the lobby with their computers at the Comfort Inn in Portage, Indiana, frantically trying to connect.  I was one of them only for a short time.  I give up more easily than some, I guess.  After 3 calls to the front desk, they wanted me to place a call to Calcutta to find out how to "fix" my problem.  I stopped at that point. (You notice, of course, that I have given you the name of this motel so that it will never happen to YOU!!!)

Yesterday, Sunday, was a lovely day.  We drove the most miles of any day of this trip, going south through Wisconsin.  The big question seemed to be whether to go to Chicago or not.  As a person with "undiagnosed ADD" I dealt with this problem by ignoring it and looking elsewhere on the map.  (We've been to Chicago, and really did not feel like going through that traffic.)

We nearly stumbled over Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  Remember that book I used last summer called 1001 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die, that I carried around like a religious tome?  It was in the back seat, and it helped us to decide to go to Lake Geneva.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, was an early resort area, as far back as the Civil War.  Wealthy people who had lost their homes in the great fire in Chicago also came there to build summer homes to get away from the city during the rebuilding.  One of these was the Wrigley family, but there are many more whose names you would recognize.

It was a summer Sunday, and it was crowded. The lake was busy with thousands of boats and swimmers. The parks were full, all the benches were being sat upon, the restaurants were bustling.  It was, all in all, a fun and exciting place to spend an afternoon.

One really cool feature of Lake Geneva is that the wealthy people who own mansions on the lake more or less "invite" you to walk along the lakefront and look at their homes.  A sign by a narrow walkway tells you to stay on the path, don't litter, and other rules that most of us know and follow, and we viewed the lifestyles of the rich and famous for a short while.  Lake Geneva is called the Newport of the Midwest.

The hugest mansion turned out to be a wedding gift that was turned down by some wealthy daughter.(Poor thing!  I can't help but wonder what she DID want!!!)  The mansion sat empty for many years, then sold to another family.  Since this "home" looks like Buckingham Palace, the upkeep must have been hideous, and we were nearly relieved to find that it is now divided into condominiums.

I took lots of photos, of course. One woman, a realtor who knows that she is fortunate to live in a home so wonderful, had painted motivational sayings all over a fence next to the walkway, I suppose to encourage us to work hard and maybe be so lucky.  A gate leading to her home (locked, of course) said "Expect a Miracle."  We do.

The little town of Lake Geneva is full of antique buildings and some very exciting looking shops.  No time for shopping, though, so we just window-shopped. 

Hunger hit, and we saw a sign that said "Chicago Pizza" on a cute little corner place.  Once inside, we ordered a small Chicago-style pizza, and a Chicago hot dog.  There not being an Akron pizza or an Akron hot dog probably made this all the more exciting.  The hot dog was interesting.........a poppy-seeded hot dog bun (I can't even buy those!) with a big deep red hot dog, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, dill pickle slices, and some hot peppers, all crammed into the bun.  Yum!

While we waited for this feast, we read a newspaper review which was taped into the table top for posterity. It told of "Jackie," one of the 5 children of the pizza parlor owner, who had gone to Italy to compete in the World's Best Pizza competition. (Sort of an Iron Chef type thing.....)  She had made the deep dish Chicago pizza that we had just ordered, and WON the World's BEST Chicago-Style Pizza!

This pizza has TWO crusts! on top and one on the bottom. Our waitress, Jessica, also one of the 5 children raised in the pizza parlor, gave us all the details.  She told us that Jackie now lives in Medina, Ohio (11 miles up the road from our house) and is marrying a fellow who started Romeo's Pizza Parlor in Medina...............they apparently met while attending pizza parlor owner events. (Life is good.) Can you imagine them cooking together?  What do you think they'll make?

The pizza WAS fabulous.  I will be googling this topic later this week, of course.  I also need to find some poppy-seeded hot dog buns.

Thelma took us towards "home."  We hit the "Take us home" button, and Thelma never hesitates to go right for the gusto, so in spite of our wishes, we ended up last night driving through Chicago's network of expressways, seeing downtown up close and personal, before we finally exited Illinois and entered Indiana.

I put a call in to my cousin, Carrie Yarger, and asked if we could visit my other cousin, her dad, Hugh Warren, and his wife Lois.  They are located at an assisted living home outside of South Bend.  We set a date for Monday, checked into yet another Comfort Inn, and after the sad saga of the ineffective internet, went to bed.

This morning we headed out to visit the Warrens, and forgetting that a time change was going to happen to us, we were "late" getting there.  We arrived as Hugh and Lois were having lunch, which looked scrumptious, and we sat and visited with them both in the dining room and then in one of their rooms.  My relatives are truly precious to me, as I do not have a lot of them, so it was a special hour or so, enjoying being with folks who "look like me," and have the same DNA.

We overruled Thelma, and took the roads less traveled by to get home today. We traveled on Rt. 6 across Indiana and into Ohio, then Rt 20 and then Rt. 18.  We toyed with the idea of stopping at Romeo's Pizza Parlor in Medina to give Jackie a hello from her sister back in Lake Geneva, but we had eaten enough pizza, and really wanted to go home.

Here we are!  I've unloaded my teensy tiny suitcase and thrown all the clothes I used down the laundry chute already.  99% of what I packed, I used.  My one and only souvenir, a yellow ball cap that says "Mackinac Island" on it, has been added to my stack of hats.  The little bottles of shampoo and conditioner await your visits.

I always feel sad when we come home. It's over.

To be perfectly truthful, we really did not plan to visit all 5 of the Great Lakes, in one trip.  We always say to each other, "What was your favorite thing?"  then " What was your least favorite thing?" when we rehash our trips.

My favorite: Mackinac Island and the Lucy and Desi Museum.  My least favorite: poor internet service

I've already ordered The Long Long Trailer, starring Lucy and Desi, from 

I received an email from Choice Hotels, asking me to evaluate the hotel near Buffalo where we spent one night.  I have to admit that I don't even REMEMBER the hotel near Buffalo.  I've slept since then.

That's why I write a journal!  Thanks for following along.  I will let you know when we're heading out the next time, so we can travel together again.