The last part of our busy summer/fall itinerary took us to a campground in Indiana, just south of Chicago. During the course of our five day visit to the area, we were on the move nearly the whole time. We were running on fumes by the end, but we had a blast before heading south to take a break.

Race to Indiana

Because we did everything we could to stay in Vermont and upstate New York as long as possible, we had only two days to get from New York to Indiana. I don’t have much to say about the trip because we spent very little time in each place, so I’ll just let my cell phone photos do the talking….

A quick pass through northwestern Pennsylvania….

Pennsylvania welcome sign

Followed by two nights in Ohio…

Ohio welcome sign

Toledo/Dayton highway sign

Dixie checking out the situation….

Dixie sticking her head out the side window of the RV
Where the hell are we????
Dixie sticking her head out the side window of the RV
“Oh shit… is this Ohio???? I’ve heard about this place….”
Dixie sticking her head out the side window of the RV
“Nothing good happens in Ohio.” *

Welcome to Indiana!!!!

Sign that says "Hell is Real" on the side of the highway

I honestly missed the state sign, but this is good too….

The Chicago Marathon

We’ve gone to several marathons over the years to support Jen (our sister in law and #1 fan of this blog) and it’s always fun and incredibly inspiring. Some marathons are better for spectators than others. Those where the courses are laid out in such a way that you can easily move from one place to another to see “your” runner multiple times during the race are ideal. Chicago is one of these “spectator friendly” courses, so it was a fantastic race for us to watch.

Chicago marathon T-Shirt and cowbell
Both the Chicago marathon and I turned 40 this year, so Jen & Jeremy picked up this “Fortieth Anniversary” shirt for me. Last year, Jeremy had commemorative cowbells made to celebrate Jen’s 20th marathon which we were supposed to attend but missed because of my stupid broken leg. We held on to our cowbell, hoping for another opportunity to annoy the hell out of other marathon spectators, and in Chicago, we finally got our chance!!

Participants are released in waves. Wheelchair racers go first…..

Wheelchair racers at the Chicago Marathon

The elite runners are next – they get the benefit of cooler morning temperatures and empty streets as they make an attempt to actually win the $100,000 first place prize…. (everyone else’s goal is to just “not die.”)

Elite runners at the Chicago Marathon
These guys will have gone home, taken a shower, and made a sandwich by the time most runners cross the finish line….

Then there are usually a group of special needs runners. Blind runners complete the entire course tethered to teammates who run with them….

A blind runner running next to a guide at the Chicago Marathon
That’s right, I’m breaking out the big one: “Amazing!!!”

Participants facing other challenges run with guides to assist and support them as they make their way through the course…**

A runner with prosthetic legs running next to two guides at the Chicago Marathon

Finally, the masses are released in waves… in Chicago there are about 35,000 runners. This is a photo Jen took from her starting corral… a teeny tiny fraction of the runners who took part.

Thousands of runners waiting at the start line of the Chicago Marathon

It is an incredible sight to see, and it obviously requires a massive coordination effort by city workers, first responders, and volunteers. By all indications, it was seamless and seemingly effortless.

As a spectator, you can stand just about anywhere on the course and watch an endless stream of runners go by. Many people run on teams to raise money for various charities.

Runners wearing "World Vision" shirts
There were hundreds of runners supporting World Vision – a global humanitarian group.

Some wear costumes….

a runner in a T-Rex costume at the 2017 Chicago Marathon
T-Rex apparently didn’t make it very far. (He’s always been more of a sprinter….)
A runner in a grass skirt
Say hello to Aloha John….
A runner in a Guns n Roses costume at the 2017 Chicago Marathon
Early in the race, all four members of Guns & Roses were running together. But, sadly, by mile 20, the band had broken up.

While others looked like they were about to rock a power lunch and decided “ya know what? I think I’ll rock a marathon instead.”

A runner wearing makeup and earrings at the 2017 Chicago Marathon
Hair down, fashionable sunglasses, lipstick, earrings…  Just because you’re running 26 miles doesn’t mean you can’t look fabulous while doing it. You go girl!

Numerous participants carry flags…

Chicago Marathon runner carrying American flag

Runner carrying flag over his head at the 2017 Chicago Marathon

Runner carrying flag with sign on his shirt at the 2017 Chicago Marathon

while some, like the guy above, run in honor of someone important to them.  (His shirt says: “I dedicate this run to my mom Maria Chavez who has always supported me and is kicking the $hit out of cancer.”)

Supporters line the sidewalks and cheer on the runners. Participants are given trackers that report their location on a phone app, so spectators can keep track of the people they are supporting, but folks hanging out on the sidelines are really great – cheering everyone on. Many runners write their names on their clothing so strangers on the sidewalk can refer to them by name as they run by.

Kevin, Laura, and Jeremy on the sidelines of the 2017 Chicago Marathon
Our cheering committee….

It is undoubtedly inspiring to watch men and women of different ages, races, and nationalities, those who are able bodied, and those facing serious challenges, complete this incredible test of physical and mental fortitude. This one was especially grueling because temperatures were much higher than normal. We were hot standing on the sidelines. We can only imagine how difficult it was for the runners.

Participants in the 2017 Chicago Marathon

Speaking of which, we were there to support Jen and she did great… coming off a year hiatus to heal from injuries and facing an extremely warm day, per the usual, she had a smile on her face the whole time.

Smiling while we all carb-loaded at Maggiano’s the night before the race….

Smiling at the Start Line

Selfie at the Start line

Smiling while running 26.2 miles in 80+ degree temperatures….

Jen running during the 2017 Chicago marathon

REALLY smiling at the Finish Line…

Jen with her Finishers Medal at the 2017 Chicago Marathon

Number 21 is in the books and we are incredibly proud of her! Congratulations to her and all those who participated in the Chicago Marathon!

That Whole Serendipity Thing

There are several RV bloggers who talk about serendipity… the happy accidents that lead to unexpected opportunities. I don’t think there’s anything particular about living in an RV that creates these moments. I think it’s simply life and it’s up to us to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. To that end, I’m a big believer in the power of saying yes. When given an opportunity to do anything, go anywhere, or try something new, the answer should usually be yes. What’s the worst that could happen? You humiliate yourself and die broke and alone. But just try not to think about that…

Anyway, the point is, this leg of our travels gave rise to several of these opportunities and we said yes to each one.

For starters, I’m always looking for good blogs to follow and one night I happened upon this article written by a girl named Liz Wilcox. Liz maintains a pretty popular website that specializes in the humorous side of RV life, something I try to do as well, so I was happy to find her page and subscribe. The next day she emailed me saying that she’d recognized my email handle from my subscription. She told me that one of her friends had sent her my spider article a week or two earlier because she thought Liz would find it funny. And she did! She then asked if I’d be willing to write a guest post for her site.

I very much enjoy this writing stuff and I’d like to get better at it. When the well regarded international travel blog Hecktic Travels put out a call for guest writers a couple months ago, I jumped at the opportunity and submitted this guest post which they published. Since then, I’ve been looking into other opportunities to write, to get formal training and feedback, and to grow this site’s readership. Needless to say, I was thrilled when Liz asked me to write something for her page. Here’s the article I wrote.

While all of that was happening, one of our neighbors from D.C. who has followed our travels since the beginning, emailed us and said that his brother had a talk radio show in Michigan and suggested that we come on as guests when we were in town. John Smietanka’s show is a local public interest talk show that has featured everyone from Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl) to Robert Mueller (yeah, THAT Robert Mueller) to all kinds of writers, scientists, musicians, and community figures. Being that both John and Ray (our former neighbor) are attorneys, they thought our decision to take some time off to travel was pretty cool and our story might be of interest to the show’s listeners.

Swallowing our terror at the idea of being on the radio, we said “Sure!” And it was fun…in a terrifying way. Both John and Ray are incredibly warm, friendly people (Suspicions about midwesterners being exceedingly nice people: Confirmed), so they are very easy to talk to. Of course, Kevin and I would love to have a do-over so we could be less nervous now that we are experienced radio professionals, but such is life. About halfway through, I think we did get a bit more comfortable, but yeah…we were still nervous. Anyway, here’s the link for the broadcast. All in all, it was a fun experience and definitely one of those bucket list items: “Be a guest on a radio show and don’t do anything to prompt an FCC investigation.” Done and done!

Thanks for the opportunity Ray and John!! (And Oprah, if you’re reading this – and I’m pretty sure that you are – CALL ME!!!)

Hitting the Brakes, Finally

Once we finished out trip to Northern Indiana (and Illinois, and Michigan), we headed south for the Indiana/Kentucky border where we enjoyed nine glorious days sitting on our butts doing nothing. More on that next time….

NOTE: Just as I was about to hit “publish” on this article, I received the newest update from WheelingIt, an excellent RV blog that we routinely read and rely on. Nina’s newest post is about the 2018 health insurance options on the exchange. (Most pre-Medicare age RVers buy their own health insurance, so this information is crucial to us.) Over the past year, we have received a number of questions from blog readers about what we do for insurance. While we’re always happy to answer questions, this guide, and the links she refers to in this article, offer a lot more information than what we can offer, so I wanted to pass it along. Here is the link.

________________________________________________________________________

*I promise I’m just joking about Ohio. I’m sure it is perfectly lovely and, obviously, it would be pretty shortsighted of me to make fun of a state that produces a disproportionate number of our country’s serial killers. 🙂

**The first several photos in the marathon section of this post are courtesy of my brother who was actually at the starting area when the runners took off. Kevin and I missed the beginning of the race (damned trains…) so Jeremy was nice enough to share his photos with me. Thanks J!!

Featured Image courtesy of Bert Kaufman on Flickr

20 COMMENTS

  1. Awww! Thanks, Laura! I may be a bit biased, but this post comes at the top of my list 🙂 Thank you so much for capturing all the magic and inspiration of running 26.2. I am always in awe of the runners around me, especially of the ones with challenges. No matter what might be going on for me – tendonitis, a bee sting, whatevs! I see the other runners and they inspire me to keep going. What else inspires me is having my family and friends there and knowing where along the route I’ll see everyone. Chicago was great. When I was feeling fatigued, I’d just say to myself, just “x” more miles and I’ll see Jeremy, Laura and Kevin! It really keeps you going. Thanks so much for making this part of your travels and for the (I’ll say it) AMAZING support you all have given me over the years. I do love reading your blog and eagerly await the next post! Now, if you want to make my next marathon, figure out how to make Barney float to Hawaii 😊

    • You know Kevin is gonna start working on a way to make Barney float, right? I mean, he IS an engineer and he DOES have a lot of time on his hands these days. 🙂 Anyway, we had a GREAT time at the race. It really is a fun experience and it’s one of the few big sporting events where spectators can seriously feel like their encouragement from the sidelines might actually have an impact on some of the participants. We definitely saw some people flagging at the end who perked up when they heard people cheering them on. It’s nice to think that all that cowbell racket really does matter. 😉 We’re also continuously amazed by your willingness to do what it takes to train for these races year after year. I don’t think most people realize just how many hours of training go into running a marathon. We certainly didn’t until you started doing them. Now that we do, we will always be more than willing to go to Hawaii to support you. 🙂

  2. As usual a great post. You are a great writer. Family members are always telling me how much they enjoy the blog and how funny you are. We all think this is your calling.

    We look forward to seeing you’ll in Gulf Shores especially Dixie. 😜

    • Aw thank you! I do appreciate the encouragement! I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I used to do it to put people in jail and now I get to try to make people laugh. Seems like a nice trade….. 🙂

      We are looking forward to seeing you guys too! Thanksgiving at the beach will be a new experience and we’re looking forward to the challenge of cooking a (kinda) traditional Thanksgiving dinner in the RV. Should be interesting (and yes, I’ll figure out what restaurants are open that day just in case it all goes to hell and we need a Plan B.)

  3. It was great spending time together in Chicago. Appreciate all the photo tips and tricks. Glad I was able to help with your blog. – J

    • We had a fantastic time. Just wish we could have hung out longer…. Luckily, we’ll be spending WEEKS with you all in Hawaii, so no problem there!!!! 🙂 And we’re more than happy to help with Lightroom. It’s overwhelming at first, but you really only need to get comfortable with a couple concepts and you’ll be good to go. Let me know if you have other questions. And thanks again for the awesome photos!!

  4. I’m normally unproductive at work the mornings that your blogs are posted. But this morning I’ve been epically unproductive reading (and listening) to all your guest blogs! Congrats – so cool, and so well deserved. It really is only a matter of time before Oprah calls.
    Miss you all!

    • HA! I’m glad I can play a little part in your completely screwing off at work. Just don’t be cursing my name when you’re stuck working late some night because of it. It’s not my fault!!! Seriously – I appreciate all the encouragement and support. It really does mean a lot. And we miss you all too. If you decide you’re in need of some perfect hair days in the desert, let me know. We’ll be heading out that way soon!

  5. **Loud throat clearing** I’m from Ohio! LOL! Wonderful post on the marathon. Congratulations on the whole serendipity thing–I love when blessings come in unexpected ways. Dying cold, alone, and broke isn’t quite the finish line I’m hoping for, but I’m a firm believer in saying, “YES!” Safe travels! Dawn

    • Ohio, you say? Hmmmm. Well. That’s a bit awkward, isn’t it? Oh, I’m just kidding! Ohio is surely wonderful… I mean, at least it’s not New Jersey…. Sooooo…. it’s got that going for it, right? OK!!! I’m just gonna stop talking before I dig this hole any deeper. Safe travels to you as well!! 🙂

  6. Holy crap! I can’t wait to listen to the radio newscast!! Spot on about Ohio! ha ha ah aha ha! Congratulations to your sister-in-law!!

    • Thanks Shelby! Let me know how it all is. You know how your voice sounds totally different on court recordings than you think it does? It’s like that for me…. Super weird. I can’t believe you let me sound like that in court…. Oh well. I loved the girls’ Halloween costumes! They are so freaken cute! Hope you guys are doing well!

  7. Hi to you two on your Odyssey in search of the perfect place to settle down at. I enjoyed doing that show with Kevin and you. Ok, a little nervous to start with, but your friends, families and followers (note the alliteration…it’s cool) should hit the link. You did well!

    Carry on, O Home on Wheels! Keep checking your emails, because Oprah will surely be writing. Remember that I was your first host.

    As to Ohio, I always wondered about why the are the Home of Presidents AND serial killers. Is there a story line there for my show?

    John

    • YES! There is definitely a story line there – I’m telling you…Ohio’s got some weird stuff going on. Get Mueller on it!!

      Anyway, thank you again for having us on! It was truly a fun experience that will stand as a highlight of our travels. It certainly helped that you were so easy to chat with. The hour really did just fly by!

      Stay well and we’ll let you both know when we make our way back to Michigan!

  8. “Yes” is good. Well, almost always. 🙂 Wow, those people who against all odds run 26 miles. So inspiring! Anyone who finishes a marathon is inspiring! I always enjoy your posts, congratulations on gaining an even wider audience!

    • Thank you Laurel! I’m just happy to have met so many incredibly nice RVers through these blogs. It’s been a huge benefit of starting one. And yes, I agree completely… anyone who completes a marathon is inspiring. Hell, anyone who STARTS a marathon is inspiring. I would be sitting on the side of the road eating a cheeseburger trying to convince myself to just jog for a mile or two. 26 is unimaginable!

  9. Great post as usual. I am so impressed with anyone who runs a marathon, much less those who do it with disabilities. Thanks so much for linking to the radio show. I really enjoyed it and feel like I really know you guys better. Kevin sounds so much like my husband (who was also a military brat), and is a scientist. We are just like the two of you where we are joined at the hip. When were thinking of moving into an RV, we realized although we had a large house we spent most our time in the same room as each other anyway!

    • Yeah, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve run into the advice to not do what we do. But like I said in the interview, I don’t know why it works… it just does. And after 17 years of success, I’m not about to change what we do. It works for us and we’re happy, so whatever. Hopefully we will all cross paths sooner rather than later. It sure does seem like we’ve got lots in common and we’d love to meet up!

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