About a week before my planned vacation was to begin, my mom asked me where we were going.
“Going? I don’t know,” was my reply. I hadn’t really thought about going anywhere. I was in the midst of stitching a hardanger table runner, the house needed a good fall clean-up and I had a stash of books stacked on the staircase that I wanted to read.
But, the question had been asked … and the urge to travel had been sparked.
Things to see inNew Orleans,NashvilleandKentuckywere pondered, but we opted for a four-state loop that took us along the shores of Lake Michigan, into the heart ofChicagoand through corn and soybean country in centralIllinois.
In other words, it was the Lighthouse andLincolntour.
While I could plan an entire trip around lighthouses, lighthouse tours, lake walks, maritime museums and needlework shops, my parents would prefer to see other things … like the Jelly Belly Factory, corn and soybean fields and the Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.
Motel brochures and Greta Garmin’s suggestions helped round out our 1,600-mile, five-day, four-state loop.
While I’d love to share a little bit about each of the 12 lighthouses we visited on this journey, there simply isn’t enough space. The highlights included tours of North Point Light atMilwaukeeand Old Southport Light atKenosha, both of which are quite picturesque. Other favorites were Wind Point Light,Port Washingtonand Rawley Point lights.
Prior to the journey, I’d never intended to see the Chicago Harbor Light, but after two days on the road with Greta Garmin, I was feeling like I could drive anywhere and get us out of any mess thanks to Greta’s lovely method of “recalculating.”
Besides, a brochure we’d found about the Navy Pier made a stop sound rather appealing. I was even thinking of taking a ride on the pier’s Ferris Wheel to see theChicagoskyline. (The Ferris Wheel wasn’t operating that day — it may have had something to do with it being a Monday in the middle of October. Nevertheless, I can confidently say I did not chicken out!)
The drive out ofChicagowas worse than the drive in. We were stuck in traffic, and some really angry guy actually jumped out of his truck in the middle of it to shout obscenities and lunge at the car next to him. We wide-eyed Minnesotans made sure our doors were locked and said a little prayer that Greta would get us safely out of the city!
It was shortly after that experience that Dad, riding in the back seat, started to ask questions about Greta, the know-it-all GPS system that directed me through inner-city traffic and along interstate highways.
He wanted to know how it worked, what direction it was taking us and … most of all, how she knew so much.
I simply shrugged and said it didn’t matter. Appreciate Greta for what she can do — put us on the right path, direct us to a nearby motel and give us an array of restaurants, from any cuisine, to choose from — all at the touch of a fingertip.
So, still sitting inChicagotraffic, I said, “It’s the Christmas gift that keeps on giving. Thanks again, Mom and Dad!”
Next time, however, I say we stay out ofChicago.