Wow! Yesterday was a long day! It started somewhat in advance of 5:00am when my husband got up (I don’t know why) and began moving about the room. (My alarm was set for 6:00am.) Banging here and there, moving in and out, opening and closing doors, he was finally in the shower (I could tell by the light being on) and then his alarm, left in the bedroom, went off at 5:30. So much for pretending to sleep. I gave up and got up.
By 6:30am we were on the way to the airport, together with my nephew, who was visiting for a few days and now on his way back to LA. A short stop in the Admirals Club (For us. Alex’s plane was delayed and he was looking at a good 3 ½ hour wait.) Then onto the plane and off to Miami.
The Miami airport, famous for its enormous distances, was the perfect place to stretch our legs, because for once, our gates were practically right next door to one another. Anticipating our day of sitting, we walked to gate 60 and back (from Gate 3), astonishingly to me only 1.5 miles! But the sky was black, and it felt like night in the airport, and though we boarded our plane for Chicago, we sat through a big thunderstorm for an hour, before we could take off. We were on one of those big wide-bodied planes with the first class seats that almost fully recline. Between the night-time aspect of the sky outside and the style of our plane, it felt as if we were on an overnight flight to Europe. (Factor that in when I get to the end of day and you’ll understand why, psychologically, this was the longest day ever!)
The late departure from Miami was critical because we had to pick up some photographs from the printer before 5 pm in Milwaukee. Arriving is Chicago we still needed an hour and a half to get there – after finding our car at the long term, off-sight parking. It never fails, does it? When you’re in a hurry, everyone else is in super slo-mo! The shuttle to pick up the car took forever to arrive, then the driver waited forever for some of the slowest (late) boarders you have ever seen. Then an extra stop to pick up some no-shows, before we finally pull up at the car place. Yikes! A line to pay. The minutes were ticking off.
Finally, in the car and on our way at 3:50pm … the GPS says we will arrive in an hour and a half. The GPS was calculating the drive speed at the speed limit. Amazing how much time you can save when you go 80mph! Of course, even at 80, on the expressways leaving Chicago, you are never going to be the person who is driving the fastest. The best you can hope for is that you are going to keep up with the car in front of you. Safety in numbers is the operating philosophy, I guess. Any way, we shaved off almost 20 minutes. At 4:50, I called the photo lab and asked if they could p-l-e-a-se, pretty please wait for me; that I would be there at the stroke of 5 (the time they close). Request granted!
We pulled up at 4:57 and I ran inside shouting “I’m here!”. The woman looked at the clock and said “No! You’re early! Go back outside!” (So you see why I like this lab – the people there are really nice!)
Now, take a deep breath. No more deadlines. The 5 pm photo issue was a critical factor in the day. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to spend the night in Milwaukee, pick them up the following day and then continue our trip, because we had reservations for Dairymen’s starting today. (Miser that I am I didn’t want to have to pay for a day I wasn’t there …) I needed the photographs for a show in Northern Wisconsin that I had to drop off on Sunday. My planning wasn’t the greatest, I will admit.
Anyway, now, with photos in our possession, we stopped off at our apartment in Milwaukee to pick up clothes and another photo for the show, and then back in the car and on the road by 6 – headed for Northern, Wisconsin, 4 ½ hours away.
We did make it safely (which was definitely becoming an issue as we got sleepier and sleepier) and rolled in just before midnight. We searched for our cabin in the pitch black, unsure which cabin we were in, and just hoping we weren’t going to walk into someone else’s cabin and scare the living daylights out of them and ourselves. We didn’t. We found an empty bed and got in it, figuring if we were in the wrong cabin, we could sort it out in the morning.
I think you’ll agree: That was one long day.
If you can hold on just a little longer, what I really want to tell you is that the hours from 6:00pm to 8:00pm when I was driving northward, we passed some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in a state that I consider one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. (My love for Wisconsin aside, naturally. I am completely unbiased!)
As the sun was going down, the shadows were long and dramatic. The light on the countryside revealed golden fields of hay, waiting for the mower, flanked by lush green fields of corn and soybeans. The hills are crowned with bright red barns and white farm houses, their colors accented by the evening light, too. The sky above is a deep, darkening blue – it was a breathtaking view we saw again and again.
After 8 and after a stop at Culvers for a quick dinner, the sky was now pink. The trees were very dark, almost black, but the sun was not all the way down. It is so low in the sky now, that the sides of everything are lit. Looking forward down the road, I see what looks like the white fairy, Christmas lights strung between the power poles along the side of the highway. As we approached, the lights moved farther in front of us, and we realized that what we were seeing was the reflection of the sunlight on the sides of the power lines. It was incredible the impression they made: These bright strings of light dancing off into the darkness. Likewise, the railroad tracks to our right, made a beautiful straight line pointing our way!
So despite the long day and hour after hour of sitting on our numb rear ends, our drive was filled with beauty and wonder.