Homecoming (June 30 – September 18, 2016)

On June 30, we returned to the Chicago area for Phil’s 2 ½ month contract assignment at Methode Electronics. Methode is based in Harwood Heights, just west of Chicago. Unfortunately there are no campgrounds close to this area so we will be spending our 2 ½ months in Marengo, IL and Phil will have a 46 mile commute each way to and from work.

June 30th was a very long day for us. We left Goshen, IN at about 9:30 am and made the 200 mile drive to Marengo, IL. We drove a somewhat longer than necessary route to avoid driving through Chicago but there was no way to totally avoid the heavy traffic. We managed to complete the trip without incident. We drove through extensive construction zones along I-90 between Schaumburg and Elgin. This was bad news since Phil will be driving through these areas on his way to work, making a long commute even longer.

We are camped at Lehman’s Lakeside RV Resort.  Although it’s not really what we would consider a resort, we have a decent sized site with a concrete pad. Unfortunately the pad is not level with the ground and Phil tore one of the mud flaps off the truck when he was backing the rig into place. In a rather strange arrangement, the sewer hookup is in the middle of the concrete pad and required crawling under the rig to hook up the sewer hose. Our site is along one edge of the campground and we have a large cornfield within 50’of our bedroom.

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The cornfield reminded Jan of the movie Children of the Corn so she was prepared to see children coming out of the field. Likewise, it reminded Phil of the movie Field of Dreams so he was expecting to see ball players coming out of the field.

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We had tickets to see James Taylor and Jackson Browne in concert at Wrigley Field the night of June 30th. We left our campsite around 4 pm and didn’t get to our seats in Wrigley until 7:15 pm. This was a quick reminder of how horrible Chicago traffic can be. We have not missed the traffic after getting spoiled by the wide-open spaces in the Southwest. The concert was very good and the weather was perfect but we didn’t get back home until 1 am. Phil had to get up and go to work in the morning but, fortunately, didn’t need to arrive until 10 am.

Phil got to enjoy the 3-day July 4th weekend off from work. On Memorial Day weekend, Phil hadn’t been working so the long weekend was just like every other day. This time, although Phil had just worked a few hours on July 1st, the long weekend felt like a welcome break. Lehman’s Lakeside RV Resort had a few scheduled activities for the weekend. On July 2nd, we walked down to the lake to watch the parade of decorated golf carts and bicycles. Later in the day, we partook of free hot dogs and corn on the cob down by the beach.

On July 3rd, there was a pot luck supper at the beach along with a deejay. We had to leave early to drive to Crystal Lake to watch the fireworks. We parked by a local park and sat atop a hill to watch the show.

A few days later we met a few of our neighbors who could be best described as “good old boys.” Our next door neighbor has a mobile bar that he constructed on the chassis of an old riding lawnmower. He took a group of us on a tour of the campground. This is the third generation of such vehicles that he’s built. He’s already planning the next generation which he says will have hydraulic steering.

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Although there’s not been a lot of action at the campground after the July 4th weekend, Jan has enjoyed walking around and snapping pictures of our surroundings and the livestock. She particularly enjoys watching the sunsets over the cornfield.

On July 14th we were able to spend some time with our daughter and son-in-law, Alison and Bill Lynch, on their way through town. We had an enjoyable lunch at Gino’s East. It was our first deep dish pizza since returning to the Chicago area.

On the evening of July 16th we experienced a true homecoming when we returned to Schaumburg for a Summer Breeze concert in the park by Hip Pockit. It was a reminder of why we had enjoyed our six years as Schaumburg residents. It was a beautiful night, the crowd was large, and the band was very good. We picked up a Lou Malnati’s pizza and picnicked in the park before the concert began.

On July 20th Phil played hooky from work and we took in an afternoon Cubs game at Wrigley Field against the New York Mets. It was a beautiful day for a ballgame and the Cubs won 6-2. It was also Jake Arrieta bobblehead day so we had to get there early to make sure we got our bobbleheads. The only real negative of watching a game at Wrigley Field is that many of the seats have obstructed views and, for this game, we had a pole right in front of us. Fortunately the guys next to us left early and we were able to slide down so the pole was no longer a problem.

The balance of July passed with little that was noteworthy. We watched the wasp nest hanging in the tree by our front door as it grew larger and larger. We had a hot air balloon float over our campground.

On July 30th there was a concert on Gilligan’s Island at the campground to celebrate one couple’s new rig. The band played classic Southern rock and was surprisingly good.

On July 31st we went to the Fizz Ehrler memorial Turning Back Time Car Show in Sycamore, IL. The streets of Sycamore were lined with vintage cars and motorcycles. It was by far the largest car show of its type that we’d ever seen. Phil even found a 1975 AMC Gremlin that similar to his first new car, although much sportier. We had never been to Sycamore before and found that it was quite an impressive little town, with lots of old Victorian style homes.

On August 8th Phil’s contract job took him to Malta for nearly 3 weeks. Malta is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Italy and north of Libya. Despite its small size (only 17 miles x 9 miles), Malta is one of the most densely populated places on earth with over 400,000 residents. Phil stayed at the Westin Dragonara Resort and had a room with a balcony that overlooked the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, having to go to work every day cut in to his ability to use the resort’s facilities as much as he would have liked.

On his second Sunday in Malta, Phil took a hop on, hop off bus tour of Malta with three of his co-workers. Despite the small size of the island, the bus tour took four hours to complete a single loop if you went non-stop so they didn’t hop off very many times. Malta is a country that has a long history and has been owned by many different countries over its history. They gained their independence from Great Britain in 1964. One of the stops was at Mdina, an ancient walled city that had once served as the capital of Malta.

While Phil was in Malta, Jan’s girlfriends, Sheila Gaskin and Michele DeBartolo, came to visit for a few days of girl time. They spent a day shopping near the campground, then spent two nights at a hotel in Chicago.

After a week back in the USA, Phil left again for a 2-week assignment in Shanghai on September 3rd. This was Phil’s 10th trip to China and it may very well be the last one. The traffic in Shanghai was terrible and it took at least 45 minutes each way to and from the office. Fortunately, the company had a driver that managed to get the team around town without incident. Phil and his co-workers had dinner at a very nice steakhouse that overlooked Shanghai’s Bund district. The views were incredible!

Our older son, Jason Bain, came to visit on September 3rd. Jan and Jason enjoyed a couple of Cubs games. The Cubs cooperated by winning both games. The first game was at Wrigley Field against the San Francisco Giants and lasted 13 innings. The next day, Jan and Jason drove up to Milwaukee to watch the Cubs play the Brewers at Miller Park.

On September 14th Jan connected with her cousin, Lori Davis, at Midway Airport and then traveled to NYC together. They visited her niece, Katie Schlegel, and had lots of adventures, including being in the audience for the Today Show and Late Night with Stephen Colbert. They also went to the 9/11 Memorial site, Little Italy and Chinatown, among other places.

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