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….
Followed by two nights in Ohio…
Dixie checking out the situation….
Welcome to Indiana!!!!
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.
Participants are released in waves. Wheelchair racers go first…..
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.”)
Then there are usually a group of special needs runners. Blind runners complete the entire course tethered to teammates who run with them….
Participants facing other challenges run with guides to assist and support them as they make their way through the course…**
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.
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.
Some wear costumes….
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.”
Numerous participants carry flags…
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.
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.
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
Smiling while running 26.2 miles in 80+ degree temperatures….
REALLY smiling at the Finish Line…
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. 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