The classes at both main schools I worked with ended on the same day, Friday June 3rd. Come early Monday morning, I was off like a Peregrine Falcon in dive sequence, bound for the West-ish. With two solid weeks before I had to return for a two hour beach program, I decided to visit Chicago, Madison, Muscoda and Boulder.
The first day lasted fourteen hours and ended at an Ohio state park with large pines and clear, starry skies. The second day landed me in Chicago and into the arms of a truly beautiful friend. We met the week I got my tattoo, nine years ago. We were both waitresses working a catered event and became instant friends when I asked her to wrap my bra strap in plastic wrap so it wouldn't rub on my newly transformed skin. Who wouldn't love someone forever for that? Fast forward to our reunion at Dollop Coffee Co on E. Ohio Street: nothing had deteriorated or changed. We walked to the most breathtaking view of Chicago and caught up on life, love and everything in between. Our pre-dinner workout included a long walk to The Bean (aka Cloud Gate) and its surrounding areas, then on to Cantina Laredo in the River North section of town. Chips, salsa, margarita, tacos and churros couldn't have been a better meal. Chicago is a terrific meeting of so many cultures which lends itself to varied food of exceedingly palatable sustenance.
Day three brought a visit to Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Badgers, my favorite building (Science Hall on the UW campus), university-made ice cream that will knock your belt off and make you beg for more and, oddly enough, the best yellow curry I've ever eaten. To be truthful, I really returned to Madison, not out of alumni longing but to eat at Sai Bai Thong again as the consistency of the curry is more than perfect and whatever they do to the tofu lust-worthy, even for tofu. From Chicago, I made a beeline for lunch and then walked around the campus to make way for my favorite ice cream of all time. Ever. Babcock Hall ice creams were created the same year as my mom, oddly enough and are made in the dairy plant on campus, along with cheese! Some of you know about my cheese obsession and was speaking to a Mainer worried that "I was never coming back" now that I was in Cheeseland. However, return I did, but not before visiting the family farm land and beyond.
Day four started in a tent on my late grandparent's lawn. A walk through the house brought back olfactory memories of summer and Christmas visits and so much longing to time travel. I was lucky enough to drive away with some old photos, a wooden sign of our last name, a patiently painted ceramic fox and more.
Day four ended in Colorado and there I stayed for the next five days. Hiking and biking, happy hours and food sampling, family time and natural beauty, though slightly too toasty warm, were all in plentiful supply. I'll let some of the photos do the talking now, but this is only a portion of what my tummy and eyes accomplished.
Cover photo: art on the outside of Boulder's art museum, next to the teahouse