I left TN early Saturday morning on the 27th of March. I packed the car the night before, so I would be sure to leave early and not forget anything. There I was, traveling along enjoying the Tennessee landscape. I figured I would pull off with a half tank of gas to fill up; and I would make it through Nashville with out a problem. Then WHAMO! I opened my billfold and realized my debit/ATM card was missing. Dang. I must have left it back at home. CRAP. I racked my brain to try and figure out how to get money and keep heading North. That was a no go. I HAD to turn around and head home to get my card. Double crap. After I finished cussing and throwing a temper tantrum I calmed down and tried to remember where in the "H" I had left it...AHHHH HAAAAAA!!! My favorite pair of jeans, that I packed in my suitcase!!!!! So very very excited. I pulled off the interstate ripped open my suitcase and snatched up my card. Thank goodness. The entire fiasco only derailed me by 1.5 hours, but I was 10 times more exhausted than I was when I started.
On the road again. I had 4 growlers of TN/GA beer (for Mick and Geno), 1 frozen pilated woodpecker (for ISU's collection), and the punisher (for my epic ride in Blonormal). I was set.
The rest of the road trip was pretty uneventful. I even took a different route (on Dad's suggestion). Typically, I get lost trying to find my way out of a paper bag, so the fact I was successful in taking a different route than planned, was monumental -- to say the least. I owe it all to my new phone, the Droid Eris. Google Maps is a standard application. I think it is my favorite function on my phone.
For the first part of my trip, I was at my parent's house in Aurora. My family threw a birthday party for all who were celebrating a birthday in March/April (me, my mom, Amanda, and her boyfriend Josh). I baked an apple pie and made black eyed peas. The pie was a hit...the peas not so much. I liked them, but I think the 'northern' taste buds are not ready for black eyed peas just yet. Later that night we played Rock Band. Similar to Guitar Hero. Josh had the whole set up. 2 guitars, microphone, and drums. I am going to try to upload a video soon...totally hilarious.
The rest of the visit was pretty casual. Dad and I went on a 10 mile bike ride on the bike trail. (my first in over 5 months ;-) Amanda and I made a German chocolate cake for my mom's birthday on the 30th. Then the morning of the 31st, I headed off to Peoria, IL to see Elaine and Al.
I was able to see Nate (Andy's cousin) perform at his last talent show at St. Mary's grade school. Nate is graduating this year and will be the last of the Schaidle clan to go to St. Mary's (this was Chris and Andy's grade school). It was so neat to see where Elaine taught and where the boys went to school. After getting settled in at the house, Elaine and I went on a 5 mile hike. It was strange to hike someplace so flat. It was still a little challenging, since I have not done much except yoga for the past 2 months. For dinner that night, we went to Jim's Steakhouse in Peoria. Very fancy. I had a filet mignon ala oscar style (bearnaise sauce on the side ;-))
The next day I headed to Bloomington/Normal. I was able to stay with Mick and Nancy Hannah. Such nice people to let such a vagabond crash in their spare bedroom. We all headed to Lucca Pizza and Pasta for some pie. My favorite is the Ala Baldini. Yum. There were a bunch of peeps that were able to make it (Mike, Nancy, Geno, Becky, Shawn, Tamara, and Jessica). We planned to ride the next day at 2 pm. UGH. What a ride. 30 mph head winds out of the South is not my idea of a fun ride. On the way out to Lake Bloomington it was stellar~30 mph tail wind rocks. On the way back, I was wishing I was climbing the back side of Raccoon Mtn. (the hardest climb I have ever done) The way I see it, I can improve on a mountain climb. I don't think I will ever FEEL like I have improved in 30 mph winds. Central IL--you can have your wind. I will take my mountains any day. :)
That night I was able to meet up with Chris, Cara, Jonah, and Larry. I was able to see Chris and Cara's new house in Lexington. It is a beautiful old home that has a ton of potential. They have already done some really great things that I am super impressed with. (Nice job guys). It was great to see Larry and catch up with everything going on with the Sweet side of the family. Cara and Jonah had just gotten in from a week in Las Vegas visiting Frank and Sue; and Chris had also just gotten home from a 2 day conference in St. Louis. As I was running out of steam as well, we visited for a couple of hours and then I was back on the road to Peoria.
Saturday was my birthday. I woke up to some beautiful Easter lilies, chocolates, and a card from Andy. Big smiles. It made my birthday (that I was NOT looking forward to) so much better. We headed to Princeville, IL for a 5k. Since I have not ran since January, it was a hard race to start. It was down pouring and I was debating on bailing. But then, a birthday miracle happened. The weather cleared up 5 minutes before the race and I finished in a decent time. For not running too much I am happy. (26:34) After the race we went back to Elaine's and she and I made Grandma Schaidle's cinnamon rolls. I have had the recipe for 3 years, but have been too intimidated to try it on my own. Elaine showed me all the 'tricks' and 'tips.' Hopefully, I can do these on my own for Andy next time.
Saturday night we had a game night. We played Catch Phrase and Quelf. I have played Catch Phrase before, very fun game. Now Quelf on the other hand...I think the person(s) who created this game were high. Seriously. I think they were smoking some serious hydroponics when they thought this one up. I can't explain it. You gotta try it for sure. It is fun, but really "out there."Easter was awesome. My dress turned out great (thanks Amanda). I wished Andy could have been up. I got to see almost all of his family on the Schaidle side. They seemed to enjoy the cinnamon rolls I made. Either they enjoyed them or they are really good liars. Not sure ;-) After everyone left, I was exhausted. I tried to relax, but 10 days away from our home/Andy/dogs. I was UBER homesick. Elaine and I packed up the car (with the addition of Andy's childhood crap, I needed the help--haha) and went to bed.
I woke up early again to get on the road before the morning rush hour traffic. The drive home was so different from what it was a little over 1 year ago. Last year, I was excited to start a new chapter of my life. I realized on this 10.5 hour drive (1 hour of traffic outside of Nashville...grrrr) that Tennessee is my home. I don't want to live anywhere else. The weather is mild and beautiful. The mountains are amazing. The rivers/creeks are breathtaking. My life is in Tennessee. I will always love going back to IL to see friends and family, but that chapter of my life is closed now and I am so looking forward to our adventures here in the Southeast.
Also, I have been inspired to get my lazy a$% off the couch and start running, biking, and swimming again. It is way too hard to try and do all the stuff I love without being in good shape ;-) To all my TN friends...let's go play!
BTW-- I will say, the ONLY thing that totally bites about Tennessee are the drivers. Seriously, I think they get their driver's licenses from Cracker Jack boxes. Absolutely no concept of turn signals, cruise control, or left lane/right lane etiquette.