One word about the Chicago area freeways: TOLLS. We were in no way prepared for the multitudes of 80-cent toll ways every 20 miles. You come upon them very fast and suddenly you need a handful of change; it was quite stressful. I emptied my purse, which was woefully devoid of change and Sasha did not have much either. We were able to scrape enough together for the areas that required exact change and had enough dollar bills to get us through the areas where there was a tollbooth operator ready to take our paper money. Of course we were just as ill prepared on our return trip, but whatever.
We got to our Holiday Inn where many of Sasha’s family were staying and we were wondering where we would find everyone. It took one peak in the hotel bar to have that question answered. The bar would become home base for the next two days.
We were there for a memorial for Sasha’s grandfather and it was a true celebration with all the kids, the grandkids and great-grandkids. We got to see the family plot, the home where grandpa grew up and the quaint town that held some special memories for his children.
The rest of the time was spent eating and drinking way too much. We closed down the bar each night and had a grand-hooting-fun time. The change in time zones made it difficult for those early mornings and we are still hurting.
After saying goodbye to the family, we decided to take an extra day to cruise down to Madison Wisconsin to see some old friends of Sasha’s. We called them for the first time when we were about 20 minutes away from their home to let them know we were on our way over. I expected some type of excuse that they were too busy or at least some annoyed reluctance to have us crash their quiet Sunday, but they responded excitedly and told us to come right over. This was an old friend of Sasha’s from growing up in a commune-style farming community and his wife and 3 young kids. They welcomed us brightly, made us a wonderful dinner and dessert and generally made us feel at home.
We left after a few hours to spend the night with one of Sasha’s oldest friends who drives a car that runs entirely on vegetable oil. We liked following behind him in our rental, because he smelled like French fries.
We left early in the morning to head back to O’Hare in time to catch our flight on the world’s most compact plane; it was a can of claustrophobia and leg cramps.
They don’t feed you anymore on American airlines, but you can buy a box of snack food for $3 that includes a little cup of coagulated cheese, salsa, stale chips, a “meat” stick and a small pack of cookies. We tried it on the way there and it was horrendous, so we knew better than to purchase one on the way back. I wanted to warn this girl across the aisle from buying one, but she was starving. I watched her take a bite of the “meat” stick, look at it hard, drop it back in the box and then spit out the remaining “meat” bits with a tremendous shutter.
That is all I have to say about that.