Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Last Ride

One of the last things on the "before we leave" list was to drop the car off at Ann's sister's house so it can make its way south to my parent's for storage. It seemed like an arduous task. The timing of trains to get back to Wisconsin meant that I would have to leave before sunrise and spend about four hours between trains waiting. I have a few books I'm working on on the Kindle, so I figured I'd make some good progress on those.

That's not quite what happened.

The drive down was uneventful. It took me pat O'Hare where I used to sit in the airline clubs eating breakfast before flying off to my next job site. I was able to catch my future brother in law before he left for work and say another goodbye. Then a great friend of mine was able to meet me for coffee before he started his day and we got to hang out for a while as he showed me his work.

For lunch, I wasn't far away, so I walked down to my Alma Mater and got a sandwich from Fontano's, my favorite lunch spot for 3 years of college. I stopped in and saw the adviser of the Veterans in Engineering group that helped me get through undergrad as a non-traditional student. The campus was alive with everyone passing between classes.

I walked past a few places where we had good times with good friends. The condo that Ann's cousin had in the city. The towers that our friends used to live in at the end of the tracks.

The train station had the distinct Chicago aroma of Garrett's Popcorn. It's a smell that both airports had (though it was a copycat in Midway). It always signaled the end of a trip and the return home.

The Metra line that would take me through the last leg held even more memories. I used to run along these tracks down Ravenswood for years. It took me past the Beat Buy I worked at while going to school, my first job in the city. Of course, my old stop in Rogers Park, a block from our condo that is now home to someone else.

The next leg was my old commute. The same route I took for years as I started my career. A line that holds memories of train crawls and laughing with friends on the way home from work. 

Past Wilmette where I helped my old boss rebuild the home he's raising his family in now.

Ravinia Park, where we spent many evenings on the lawn sitting with friends watching movies while the orchestra played the score. Listening to concerts that were highlighted by the company we were in. Sitting in the reserved seats so Ann could achieve her goal of seeing James Taylor live.

Past my first "home" in the Chicago area, the Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes. The place that transformed me from a dirty nasty civilian into a proper Sailor. And next door, the Veteran's hospital that treats the problems that came from that.

Past the boat yard that we first saw Interlude in all those years ago and where we returned later to buy her and store her for 2 seasons.

The Waukegan Station power plant is easily visible from the train. The 4 DSI silos that were part of a project I was involved with from the initial conception phase. I was there when the first loads of material were delivered to them while the cold Lake Michigan wind ripped through the air.

This was supposed to be another chore to accomplish. Another thing that had to be done to help us get where we're going. It turned into a trip down memory lane. A reminder of all the steps that have been taken along the long path to where we are now. A beautiful book end to our time in our old Sweet Home, Chicago.