Last weekend I went to Chicago, by myself, on a train. My parents gave me many directives on how to monitor my personal safety, which I thought was cute, since I have definitely reached an age where I can take care of myself. But I will still always be their child, so I guess it is ok.
The train ride on the way to Chicago was so pleasant and calm ~ I have never traveled so comfortably or serenely. As the train chugged us through Ypsilanti, I witnessed a spectacular sunrise - I have never in my life been so upset not to have my camera. It was a singular, perfect moment - the fuschia, pinks and yellows lit up the sky, but not yet so bright that you had to look away. The sun was just peeking up over the tops of trees which lined the shore of the Huron River, with this old Pennisular Paper Co. sign standing by the edge of the water. It made me think it should have been a book cover. I also was surprised at how much wildlife I glimpsed from the train car - Sandhill Cranes, deer, Blue Herons, ducks and geese. For awhile, it was a birdwatchers dream.
I had a great time visiting my cousin Meghan and her fiancée Mike - Meghan planned a day that seemed perfectly planned to my personality, which I am sure she actually did plan that way. We spent Saturday at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museuem, which everyone must check out while in Chicago, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. The Nature Museum had a butterfly room, which Meghan described as being an earthly paradise, and I have to agree. We stood still, silently watching as butterflies of all colors and sizes, some as big as our hands, flitted about. We wished one would land on our hands, to make us feel like a chosen part of the scene, like the butterflies welcomed us into their land. Unfortunately that did not happen. We enjoyed reading the names of the butterflies living in this Eden, such as the Small Postman and the Scarlett Mormon. I, of course, loved the Owl Butterfly. After exploring these sights, which I have to say were all free except for the Nature Museum (unless you are an educator), we met up with Mike and went to the movies. I cried my way through the National Geographic movie, The Last Lions, which was powerful, moving, and tragically sad. I do recommend it, and urge everyone to visit their website to learn more about the plight of lions on earth. In 50 years, we have gone from 450,000 lions to only 40,000. It is terrifying to realize we may watch one of nature's most awesome creatures become extinct.
They also took me to two fabulous restaurants, Irazu, a Costa Rican place, and Jane's. I fell in love with Jane's goat cheese, tofu and veggie burrito - and insist that everyone try it if ever in Chicago. We spent much of the weekend talking and getting to know each other better as adults, and I was grateful for this time we spent together. When you get older and the only time you see each other is at family holidays, you don't often get to have the best conversations, and I felt that we had great conversations over the weekend. For not being raised that closely, Meghan and I are so similar - I guess it is in the blood. We all talked about how we missed Billy too - I would go to point something out to him and he wouldn't be there. I did go home with many stories to tell him though, and I made plans for us to visit Chicago together.
But then, all good things must end - Sunday morning rolled around, Meghan made us perfect pancakes, each one the ideal size and golden color, a wonderful last moment in the trip. Then I left for Union Station, where I boarded the most jam packed train and experienced the most uncomfortable ride home - not nearly the idyllic ride that I enjoyed on my way to Chicago. After 7 excruciating hours, we pulled into Dearborn, where Billy was waiting. The best way to end a trip by far, with your husband waiting for you with a smile, welcoming you back home.