Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Saturday afternoon we arrived in Winnetka, where we spent the night with David Lower and his family.  We had watched him grow up, living two doors down from us in Atlanta, where he and his brothers were constantly in and out of our house, with our kids.  His dad and I were law partners and his mom and Trisha were the best of friends.  Tragically, at age 38 Jean was taken by cancer, but through her gallant fight against this disease, Trisha became the de facto leader of the neighborhood response, helping people learn how to respond to the situation.  This experience was much of the spark that started Trisha on the path to becoming a minister, as she is just a natural at pastoral care.  Before Jean died, Trisha told her we would be there with her boys at every significant event in their lives, and we have, from all their weddings, to Trisha participating in David's ordination service when he became a Presbyterian pastor.  He's now the senior pastor at Winnetka Presbyterian Church, so we planned our visit for the weekend so we could be in church to hear him preach.

He and his wife, Amanda, have two beautiful children, 7 year old Matt, and 5 year old Anna Jean, and we had the most wonderful visit with the whole family!  When we were arranging the visit, David told us how Matt had been telling him how much he wanted his family to get an RV, even before he knew we were coming, so when David told Matt that there would be an RV parked in his driveway he just went wild!  When we came down the street to their house, the whole family was out in the yard with their cameras, snapping pictures as we pulled into the drive.  The kids were so excited to see in the RV  they went running to get their friends to show them.  When they discovered that we have a TV and a DVD player, they ran to the house to get a movie to watch!  Matt wanted to spend the night in the RV, so we fixed up the cabover bed like we had it when our grandson was with us and he had a blast.  That night we all rode in the RV to go to dinner at a nearby restaurant, and as we were walking into the restaurant, Matt asked his mom if he could get his dinner to go, so he could go back to the RV and eat at the dinette.  At one point he said to me, "Jack, I just had a brilliant idea--how about if we trade you my Dad's car for this RV!"  What a hoot!  And little Anna Jean is quite the fashionista!  Trisha had found a cute little outfit for her so when she opened it up she immediately ran to her room to put it on, and when she came back downstairs she just put on a little fashion runway show, voguing all the way!  So precious!

Sunday we had just the most incredible worship experience at their church.  The very first thing, David's welcoming remarks were so great:  "No matter who you are, what you look like, who you love, all are welcome here."  We know so many LGBT people who have been hurt by the church; it's so wonderful to hear a pastor so openly proclaiming such a welcoming message!  David's sermon and text were based on the Creation story in Genesis, and his exegesis was that this is a "why" story and not a "how" story--brilliantly showing how it isn't intended as a literal rendition of facts, but rather as an underpinning of faith, and thus it is not inconsistent with what we know of the scientifically established facts of the origin of the world.  And one of the surprise treats was that Amanda, who is an incredibly gifted dancer, danced the Creation story as David read the text.  She is so talented, and it was just amazing how she brought things to life--we were both in tears through the whole service, thinking of David's parents, and how miraculously Amanda had come through her own harrowing brush with a life threatening heart episode earlier this year.  As I overheard one of the parishioners in the pew behind us whispering to his wife when David finished his sermon:  "It doesn't get any better than this!"  For  anyone who may be interested, here's a link to an audio recording of the sermon:

We had lunch with the family after church, along with another couple from David's home church, Central Presbyterian in Atlanta, who were in town, then headed on to Elgin, where we set up in this marvelous county park campground.  It's just amazing that there is such a lovely place in a county park, with lots of open space and big shady campsites.  We never would have found it except for our friend, Lynne, having recommended it to us.  She is the person who has been so helpful to us with her blog about her Winnebago View--she has been a constant source of information, advice and counsel, and ever since I discovered her blog in the months leading up to our departure on our trip she has been so willing to answer any questions I have had and give us the benefit of her experience with various aspects of RVing.  She is also the inspiration for our new way toward a healthy way of eating--she and two of her friends who all met RVing became vegans sometime ago and started another blog, Vegan Vagabonds.  This blog focuses on how they each came to the vegan way of eating, and how you can do this simply and easily, especially while living in an RV.  Lynne's posts on this blog, particularly how she explained that you can do this without being a slave to it--it's okay to eat nonvegan foods occasionally, just no longer making a habit of it--just really resonated with me when I read them.  She had posted a picture of the spinach and kale smoothie she has for breakfast on the blog, along with the recipe and it just flipped a switch for me.  I just knew this would be something I could do--I've struggled with my weight all my life and have tried every conceivable diet, only to gain back what I have lost, many times over.  So, when I suggested to Trisha that we do this, she readily agreed and it's been a life transforming thing for us.  Both of us have lost significant amounts of weight, and my doctor has taken me off two of the three blood pressure meds I've been on for years; hopefully by the time we get home she will be able to take me off the last one as well.  So we owe a great debt of gratitude to Lynne and her compatriots--thank you Tessa and Evelyn, too!

So we were so excited to be able to work it out to meet her in person, when we realized that she lives not too far from Elgin, where we were planning to visit some other friends on Monday.  So she recommended this beautiful campground, Paul Wolff Campground not far from her house, which we had not seen on any of the sites we use to find campgrounds.  Sunday evening she picked us up and we went to a lovely Thai restaurant in Elgin for a delicious vegan dinner.  We had such fun visiting together, and it was like we had all known each other for years!  We're so happy to have been able to meet her in person, what a treat!!  I'm just so frustrated with myself for not getting any pictures of us all together.  I had taken my camera with me, intending to get someone at the restaurant to take our picture, but we were so engrossed in conversation the whole evening, I just totally forgot about it--need to find some vegan food that can restore my memory!!

Monday we spent the day with our friends, Patty and Bill, who had been in Cherry Log when we first moved there, as Bill was the interim pastor at our church.  It was great to reconnect with them and we had a wonderful day.  One of their daughters is an architect, and her husband is a chef of some considerable renown, and they have two restaurants in Chicago, one a Japanese themed restaurant called Yusho, and the other more of a tavern, Billy Sundays, both located in the Logan Square area of Chicago.  So we drove into the city Monday evening to go to both places, first at Billy Sundays, for drinks and appetizers, and then on to Yusho for dinner.  Boy was this a special treat!  Each place was great, each different, but quite wonderful.  At Yusho's the whole menu is set up as a vast array of choices of small plates, intended to be shared by the whole table, and all are some of the most unique and delectable combinations imaginable.  The waiter was so knowledgeable about each and every ingredient, many of which we'd never heard of, and how they were each prepared, and it was just a fabulous experience.  We met just about everyone on the staff, from the waiters to the bartenders, to the manager, and of course Matt, their son-in-law the chef.  The whole approach is that everyone is part of the team, and not just a waiter, or a runner, or something else, but all together.   All this makes for a really delightful dining experience, with as much effort put into the service as into the food.  Anyway, if you're ever in Chicago, we highly recommend that you go there for an unforgettable gustatory treat!!

So, as we head out today for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, my only regret is that I didn't do such a good job with getting pictures of this weekend.  Forgot my camera sometimes, and at others, like when we were at dinner with Lynne, even when I had my camera in my pocket, we were having so much fun I just forgot to get the camera out and get some pics.  So sorry for that, but here are the few we did get.

Anna Jean, the fashionista!
 Our beautiful campsite at Kane County's Burnidge Forest Preserve

 Stopped back by David's church on Tuesday on our way out of town, as we had forgotten to pick up some mail; this is in the staff library of the church
 Beautiful sanctuary of Winnetka Presbyterian Church

 Gorgeous baptismal font; just love this wooden carving of the dove
 This beautiful wood carving on the front of the pulpit reminded us of the block prints done by Robert Hodgell, the artist in residence at Eckerd College when we were there
 Beautiful weaving, hanging in the hall of the church, done with fabric and other items contributed by members, signifying how all elements of the life of the community are woven together.
 Bill and Patty Crowl, dinner at Yusho, the fabulous Japanese themed restaurant of their son-in-law, Matt; here showing one of about 8 or so different little dishes we all shared
 Bowl of the delicious tofu donuts we had for dessert--yum!
 Various shots of the Milwaukee skyline as we drove through

How could we pass through Milwaukee without a shot of a beer ad???  Trisha  enjoyed several Leinenkugels while we were in the Apostle Islands
 A couple shots of the some of the beautiful barns we passed driving through Wisconsin

 Lake Michigan, as we drove into Manitowoc


  1. Enjoyed reading about your adventures in Chicago area. I love Chicago. You and Trisha just keep looking better and better.

    1. Genie, Chicago has always been one of my favorite cities, too--in the spring and summer, that is! I spent some time there on business in the past smack dab in the middle of winter and it was awfully cold! While we've tried to avoid interstates and cities as much as we could on this trip, we have made city stops to see friends and family, and we certainly enjoyed visiting with so many friends in the Windy City. Thanks for your kind comments about us--we really are feeling great!

  2. Such wonderful pictures and I especially love seeing Wisconsin.......have relatives in Manitowoc. Well I really have enjoyed riding along with you both on this grand adventure. I don't know - maybe Art and I will head out in the Airstream at some point?? :):)

    1. Kathy, I never knew you had relatives in Manitowoc! We had a wonderful bike ride along the Mariners Trail by Lake Michigan this morning before we took the ferry across the lake to Luddington, MI, where we are tonight. Hope you and Art do take to the roads in the Airstream--I'm sure that baby will be well customized and fully tricked out by the time Art finishes working his magic on it!

  3. Great seeing you and Trisha. Wouldn't you know that I brought my camera along for our dinner too, and forgot to pull it out and use it for the same reasons-- too much good conversation going on!

    I didn't realize until reading here now that you've just done 2 of the bucket list things I've been wanting to do for years-- the sea cave kayak tours of Lake Superior, and taking the ferry across Lake Michigan! Wow, what fun you two are having!! Can't wait to see/read your Michigan posts!

  4. Lynne had that same effect on me too! We went for Thai food when she stopped by on her way through Tenn. after buying her Lynnebago. I was so excited to catch up, I forgot I had a camera in my pocket!

    So glad you guys got to meet. What fun!

    I am enjoying following along to a place that has long been on my bucket list. Can't wait to hear all about the UP!

  5. Suzanne, that Lynne is something else, isn't she?? Amazing how similar our experiences were. She has been such a help to us as we've embarked on this new way of life with the RV, and especially with the new approach to eating. We were so glad to get to meet her in person--but one of these days, we and you will just have to remember to take our our cameras! She was the one who linked us to your blog and I really enjoy it! Hope we can cross paths with you one day!