Headin’ North Along Lake Michigan

We’ve both spent a lot of time in Chicago over the years. Suzanne’s dad lives there, Kevin went to grad school there and the company Suzanne works for is based there. The Chicago visit for us was definitely more about seeing friends and family than it was about seeing the sights, but no trip to Chicago would be complete without a segway tour led by Ken Mooney.

Now, Ken Mooney doesn’t actually lead the segway tours, just to be clear. But the number of segway tours he has been on over the years combined with the fact that he knows so much about so many things and is so good at teaching those things means that he really should be leading segway tours. Until he starts his own company, however, we will continue to segway with Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours (they are awesome!) and we’ll have Ken Mooney be our unofficial tour guide.

We went on the Lakefront/Museum Campus tour and it was a perfect day for it. Blue skies and just a light breeze in the windy city. We covered about 7 miles during this two-hour tour and saw Grant Park, Millenium Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Planetarium and lots of beautiful views of the Chicago skyline. Our tour guide let Suzanne wear the special flower helmet, which must usually be used as the birthday helmet because she got wished a “Happy Birthday” by random strangers several different times throughout the tour.

In addition to the segway tour, we spent lots of quality time with Ken Mooney and his sweetheart, Mary. Suzanne’s dad met Mary a few years ago on a bus tour and she has since become part of the family. We went out to dinner with them a few times, enjoyed an outdoor Irish music concert together at Cantigny Park and even had them over for dinner at the RV. Unlike the elegant dinner scene in this picture to the right, the RV dinner took place in the parking lot of a Best Western Hotel in Hillside, Illinois. It was the best place we could find to park the RV in the Chicago area, so when Dad and Mary pulled up we had the grill set up outside on the asphalt parking lot and we were surrounded by semi-trucks and buses. Despite the unique ambiance, dinner went well and we had lots of fun. We do think the dogs considered bailing on this whole RV trip thing and going home with Mary that evening after all of the love and attention she gave them. They were feelin’ the love!

While we were in town we also had the opportunity to visit with a few more of Kevin’s grad school friends from Kellogg School of Management. We enjoyed a delicious tapas dinner with his friend Rob at People Lounge and then Suzanne went home and Rob and Kevin went out for a night on the town, meeting up with their friend Elizabeth at some point and probably meeting up with the sunrise as well. We had dinner with Elizabeth another night and enjoyed checking out her new condo and its incredible lakefront views.

Suzanne also had the opportunity to see her friend Nikki while we were in Chicago. Nikki doesn’t live in Chicago nor had she and Suzanne planned to meet up in Chicago. This was one of those awesome and unexpected moments in life that happens when you least expect it. Here’s how it went down: Suzanne was walking through a SuperTarget in one of Chicago’s western suburbs, thinking about what she needed to buy so we could make dinner for Dad and Mary. She sees a tall blond girl a few aisles ahead of her and thinks, “Gosh, that looks a lot like Nikki.” That quickly turned into, “Wait a minute…”, which turned into “What the…?” It WAS Nikki! Suzanne and Nikki are in a running club together in Seattle. We repeat, Nikki lives in Seattle and here they both were in a SuperTarget in Chicago. Nikki was in town to meet her newest nephew and was running a few errands with her sister, hence her presence at Target. This particular store isn’t one that her sister normally frequents but for some reason she chose to go there that day and – ta da! – a happy Seattle running buddy reunion took place. So much fun!

We eventually said good-bye to Chicago and continued north along Lake Michigan. We got an early start that morning so we could put in a few hours before work and then we stopped for the day to work from a park near Milwaukee. That was where we encountered the “RV Watchers”. We were parked off by ourselves, minding our own business, when we saw a couple drive up and park across from us. They pulled out their lawn chairs, including one for their little dog, of course, and they proceeded to sit and eat snacks and watch…our RV. There were plenty of spots on the other side of us where they could have parked and watched: the lake, the trees, the birds, anything else! But they chose to watch our RV. It was the strangest thing. We kept thinking maybe a parade was coming through and we were in the way of the parade route, but the parade never came. Kevin even joked with them at one point when he went out to get something from the car and said, “You can enjoy this view until 3pm and then we’re heading out.” The RV watchers just nodded and smiled. The Pace Arrow Vision is nice to look at, don’t get us wrong, we just didn’t think we would ever be someone’s tourist destination.

That evening we continued north to Suamico, WI where we overnighted in the driveway of our friends Chad and Sara. Chad is yet another one of Kevin’s classmates from Kellogg and when he heard about our trip he offered to host us at his house and show us around Wisconsin. Suzanne had a big project due for work that week so she missed out on the tour of Green Bay, but Kevin got to visit Lambeau Field and we enjoyed some good eating while we were in town. In addition to a delicious dinner at Chives, which is Chad and Sara’s favorite local restaurant, Chad made blueberry pancakes for breakfast one morning after we all went on a run together and then he made up a quick batch of chocolate-chip peanut butter cookies to send on the road with us. Mmm….cookies.

When we left Suamico we continued north along Lake Michigan and found a quiet little state park just south of Escanaba, Michigan. We parked our RV on the beach for the night and wish we could have stayed longer. Coming from the west coast, we think we have some pretty nice beaches. It turns out that Wisconsin and Michigan can hold their own though. If you like to travel and you like beaches and you haven’t visited this part of the country yet, we highly recommend that you put it on your list. There are miles and miles of beautiful scenery and expansive water views, especially as you head east through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula along Highway 2. Our goal for this stretch of the trip was to make it to St. Ignace, Michigan, where we would be set up for a convenient trip over to Mackinac Island that weekend. We did make it to St. Ignace, found a state park near the water and set out to check out the town. We’ll tell you all about Mackinac Island next time, but for now we’ll leave you with a picture we took while we were out and about with Dad and Mary. When Ken Mooney saw this sign and where it was placed he said something like, “Of course it’s drop-off only, it’s a port-a potty! Who would want to pick something up there!”

See you on down the road!

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