"The earth gives us food to nourish our bodies, and we prepare the food with love to feed our souls and we serve it with compassion to make us whole." -Le Tresor Pistoulet
Adventures of a Country Gal

Country Gal Travels to the Windy City

It was a typical winter day in February and my daughter Mariah and I were headed to Chicago with some very dear friends of ours, for a cheer competition.  My daughter used to do competitive cheer with her friend Faith and that is how Karla and I met.  The four of us have always had a great time traveling together and we decided to join them on this trip.  The trip from Southern Indiana to Chicago is an interesting one – you go from the city of Evansville, through the farmlands of Indiana and Illinois before you reach the city of Chicago.

The best of buddies!

We loaded the car with enough stuff for a month, even though we were only going for a weekend because of course, we needed all of those things.  I can feel the men rolling their eyes, thinking no one needs that much stuff.  Wait a minute; let me turn down the volume on my psychic abilities…We saw no harm in taking that much, we were driving and had the space.  Excited about our adventure, we started on down the road.  We got started later then we had wanted to and would be traveling unfamiliar roads in the dark, but I’m a pretty good navigator and we were not worried.  I think we were in the car about two minutes before the girls started into the “snack bag”.  What is it about a road trip that triggers hunger?  Well, at least they had enough restraint to make it two minutes!

The girls were busy playing and eating and Karla and I filled the time with catching up – well, truth be told, I probably did most of the talking, which my husband tells me is a family trait, but that’s a story for another day.  Anyway, about two hours had passed and we noticed that the temperature outside was beginning to drop.  At this point, it had dropped about five degrees.  And continued to drop another five degrees each hour we were on the road.  Whose idea was it to go north in February?  To make matters worse, it started to rain and then when the temperature was low enough the rain turned to snow.  It was now dark…and windy…and snowing.  We must be getting close to the windy city!  But no… I looked at the map – we still had about another three hours.  Visibility was getting worse and Karla, who has a very sunny disposition says, “Girls, look at the snow.  Isn’t it beautiful?”  Beautiful?  Maybe it would be beautiful if I were sitting in front of a warm fire place, sipping on hot cocoa and staring out of a big picture window.  I wasn’t sure it was beautiful from my little cubby hole in the front seat.  Whose idea was it to bring this much stuff?  I could barely move my feet.  Maybe I would think it were more beautiful if my eyes weren’t tired from straining to see the road.

Isn't it beautiful

I look over at Karla, whose knuckles were white from holding on to the steering wheel so tight and tell her that I think our turn is coming up soon.  We had to turn off of the main highway and travel down some two lane roads to cut over to the next highway.  Not having to drive as fast on the highway with all of the traffic surely will offer some relief.  So, we turn.  I try to keep Karla loose by keeping the conversation light. “Doesn’t anyone use street lights around here?  I think I see a light up there about three miles.  Look, there is another one over there to the left about five miles down the road.”  Seriously though, it was dark and the snow was blowing in our faces, so it was very difficult to see.  I wanted to keep Karla as relaxed as possible because driving in that mess is very stressful. GPS was not picking up the country roads we were on – surprise, surprise.  But, there was a semi-truck in front of us that looked like he knew where he was going, so we rode his tailgate all the way over to the highway.  We were in the clear – we could now make up some time.  The snow was tapering off, there were street lights and we had about an hour and a half left to our destination.  We stopped to get something to eat and it was back on the road.  Relaxed, content and feeling rejuvenated – we would be there soon.

Wrong.  What should have taken us an hour and a half actually took us about two to two and a half hours because the wet, muddy spray from the other cars kept freezing on the windows!  It was so cold out that if Karla sprayed windshield wiper fluid on the window while we were moving it would freeze immediately!  After stopping every fifteen minutes to clear off a three by six inch rectangle for Karla to see through, and stopping at all of the unattended, just mail in your money, toll booths, we finally made it – safe and sound.  We were in pretty good spirits considering all that had happened. Karla parked and went to check in.  She comes back and says, “Okay, let’s go”.  I hop out of the car and realize that the wind is so cold that it is hurting my skin.  “Where is the bell-hop?” I ask.  “There is no bell-hop,” she answered.  What?  No bell-hop?  The girls run inside to get out of the cold and leave Karla and I to unload the car.  Who’s idea was it to come north in February, anyway?  And did we really need all of this stuff?

We made it up to our room, changed, put the breakfast order on the door and climbed into bed.  Mariah and I were asleep before Karla and Faith even made it out of the bathroom.  We had plans for the next morning to sleep in a little, get room service and head over to the cheer competition and then go to a dinner theater that evening.  Tomorrow was going to be a great day!

The next day, we woke up feeling refreshed and hungry.  Thank goodness we had put our order on the door the night before.  It was almost ten and we had asked to have our breakfast delivered between ten and ten-fifteen.  Don’t you love that service?

My stomach was growling.  I looked at the clock – it was 10:30 and we still hadn’t gotten our breakfast.  Maybe they were just running late.  Karla opened the door to look out into the hallway and noticed that our form was still hanging on the door.  Oh great… So, she calls down to the kitchen and with her sunny disposition speaks to the person on the other end who says they can have breakfast up to us in fifteen minutes.  Okay, that will work.  We still have time to eat and get Faith ready to compete.  Forty-five minutes goes by – no breakfast.  Karla went over to the phone again; her eyes glassed over this time and called down to the kitchen.  This time there was no sunny disposition.  “We want our food now,” she demanded.  This is a Karla I had never seen before.  After she was through talking at the person on the other end I said, “Dang girl, if I ever have a problem with someone I’m going to sick you on them!”

Was this day going to be a continuation of yesterday, I wondered?  But, alas it was not. The competition went well, Mariah and I got to see old friends and spend good quality time with our buddies.  After the competition, we had reservations at a dinner theater called Medieval Times.  This is one of those shows where you are a part of the production.  You are a guest of the King for dinner and invited to watch a jousting competition – complete with knights and horses. We ate as the people did in medieval times – with our hands.  We cheered on the Red Knight and raised our mugs in appreciation of the tournament!  The King even talked to Karla directly.  I wondered if he had heard about the incident earlier and wanted to make sure she was happy.  We all had a wonderful time at the show and I was kind of digging being called M’lady.

Medieval Times

Cheers Red Knight!

The next day, Faith had to perform one more time and then after the awards, we headed home.  The girls began to worry immediately about how much more time they had together.  We kept telling them, it’s a seven hour drive girls.

The drive home was uneventful.  The countryside was beautiful during the daytime – when it was not snowing.  It was great to return to familiar territory.  There is always something special about coming home, isn’t there?  We had had a wonderful time!  Karla’s sunny disposition had returned and all was well.

Although a wonderful trip, it left me with a few questions.  First, is physically being in the city contrary to having a sunny disposition?  Can people really be trusted to mail in their tolls?  Is the city struggling so much they cannot afford to hire toll booth attendants?  Can’t they make washer fluid that can withstand colder temperatures?  Why didn’t the titles of M’lady and M’lord make it to modern times?

Hmm, I don’t know if I’ll ever get the answers to my questions.  But, what I do know is that I’m thankful for family and good friends and that I’m happy to be just a Country Gal!


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