Fall has arrived! It's generally my favorite season of the year, but this year it has failed to capture my heart and steal my affection. My guess is that previously I was a student so I didn't mind it getting dark outside at 4:30 pm because I had been romping around outside all day between classes, but now that I'm working it means that the day is over by the time I get out of work! Boo:( [Ha. Nice pun, in light of the Halloween/Fall season] . Speaking of light, I should just get a summer home in Alaska, then it will be light out all day. I've always wanted to see the Northern lights. But wait, I guess to see the Northern lights it has to be dark out, so summer is probably not gonna work. Oh well. Plus to have a summer home that means you don't work, and let's be honest, urban planning is not exactly a field that's going to send me into early retirement.
Well, I love the changing of seasons so I won't let it get me down. I will continue to lounge on my couch inhaling the sweet aroma of my Pumpkin Spice Yankee candle and bundle up like a blizzard just arrived. Also, I must apologize to my faithful readers for being MIA the past weeks, I was on an excursion of monumental proportions, but didn't forget about you. Where exactly have I been and what exactly have I been doing you wonder? Oh wait no longer!
I went to a wedding in Rockford, Illinois last weekend.
We watched the baseball playoffs. Bad news: Cubs lost. Good news: the Rays are holding strong and playing better than anyone could have imagined they ever would! I enjoyed a week of evenings filled with cable TV and nightly baseball games! But let's be honest, I couldn't stay awake to watch the ending to any of them. And to be more honest, I couldn't even keep myself awake for the debate, which started at 8pm in the central time zone! I make Mr. Bean in Rat Race look less narcoleptic I'm so pathetic.
I went to my first (and possibly last) corn maze!! For those of you who aren't familiar with this crazy autumn activity let me explain. Some entrepreneurial farmer out there decides to make a little dough by creating a maze out of their cornfield. Well, in this case it was a 10 acre corn field with a maze cut through it. The path is about 3 feet wide, the corn is about 8 feet tall and your goal is ...well there are many goals 1) Have fun roaming around in a maze of corn 2) Find the 8 checkpoints in the corn maze 3) Make it out of the corn maze alive and with all limbs. Option 3 was definitely my goal.
So Andrew and I had never been to a corn maze before, so we had this picture in our minds. We thought there would be kids, parents, strollers, clowns, balloons, baseball lights like in the Field of Dreams. Basically, we thought we were going to the county fair. Well to our surprise we pull up at 7 pm and no one is there. "Maybe it's closed. They said they were opened til 8 tonight, maybe they changed their mind," we discussed. Lo and behold, a guy walks out of his house towards his shop and flips on all the lights while we sit in the car wondering what we're thinking. Here's your visual: A house in the middle of the country, surrounded by cornfields, with a barn for his animals (reindeer of course), a Christmas tree farm, a banquet hall that is nothing short of Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, and pitch blackness. Oh, and two people: me and Andrew.
"You open?" we asked.
"Oh yea, I've got a group of 45 coming out in about 20 minutes," he replies.
As we are paying he says, "Oh good, you brought your own flashlight" as he points to a lone flashlight on the counter.
"No we didn't, but can we borrow this?" Andrew asks, with the determination to accept nothing short of 'yes' from the man.
"Alright, here's an index card, there are 8 checkpoints hidden out there with different hole punches for each one so I'll know if you cheat. Good luck."
And that was it.
Andrew and I wandered out into the pitch blackness armed with a flashlight, map, and two index cards! Definitely not the kind of people that would survive Man vs. Wild. I'm not sure if you can imagine what it feels like to wander out into cornfields in pitch blackness on a windy night, but I'll sum it up with four words: Children of the Corn. There was no way we were making it out of there alive. Every wind that blew and crack of a cornstalk freaked us out. There are probably foxes or coyotes or wild raging deer! Are there snakes in cornfields? Probably. Who knows. All I knew was that I wasn't making it out alive.
Well about an hour into our carefully calculated excursion (as planners we used the map like a treasure map to ensure that we covered every square foot to get all 8 hidden posts) we heard voices. "Oh good, there are more people out here than just us now, this will feel safer" we thought...wrong! Imagine what it would be like to be in this already frightening situation with 45 college students now in the corn, probably intoxicated, and traveling in packs like sorority girls on their way to the bathroom. Well if the children of the corn weren't going to get us, a heart attack was. Around every corner was a college student, who in the pitch darkness didn't know that we weren't with their group. So, we now had to actually watch our backs and respond to cracking of corn because there were in fact real people hiding in the corn like a haunted house to grab us or frighten us. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs "We don't know you so don't mess with us--we're that pair of two random people in blue jump suuuuits!!!!" (Yea, that's right, we thought it was going to lack fun and we needed to help out a little bit by wearing all dark clothing and acting Mission Impossible in the maze). Wrong. In the words of my favorite Verizon commercial: We got hosed! Well, as you can predict, since I'm writing this post, we made it out alive. But not after the nice farmer family gave us a tour of the entire operation including the banquet hall and bringing out one of the reindeer to pet. In case you didn't know, there is apparently an actual species called Alaskan reindeer. They are very feisty and their antlers are so sharp they make the running of the bulls look like a safe operation. I was pretty sure little Elizabeth was going to gourd me. Luckily, she was on a leash. Well we left the ranch, went out for some ice cream and called it a night. We try to collect the mini baseball helmets (We've got 4. One from Yankee Stadium (fancy!) and the other 3 from ice cream dates).
Then I worked the rest of the week. Working "remotely" is not remotely fun. Your heart says your on vacation but your brain says you have to work and there is constant inner warfare until you cash in your vacation time.
Lots of baseball, lots of eating, lots of sleeping, lots of shopping. I had the most incredible beef tenderloin fondue and got a killer ski hat with tails!
I went to my first apple orchard and picked apples. I saw my first pumpkin patch and bought an overpriced pumpkin from the vine. We went on a Lake Geneva boat tour and saw the fall colors surrounding beautiful, historic homes. Kids in the tropic of Florida really miss out on this Fall business, this season of harvest, if you will. We do, however, not miss out on the art of pumpkin carving. We bought a pumpkin carving kit and made some pretty awesome pumpkins. Mine is the pirate ship on the far left, Andrew's the window (typical architect) on the far right, and Team Grandma with his sisters made the rockin' bat.
I concluded my trip with a stay at the Grand Emy Hotel in the heart of the University of Chicago campus. We enjoyed a dazzling double date with our men at the Med, a brief stroll through a park only blocks from Obama's house, and a night of random stories and laughs (to come in subsequent blogs). Well, this has turned into a really long blog...that's why I shouldn't allow too much time to pass between postings!