Thursday, February 21, 2013

Weekend Visit to Chicago, January 25-27

My cousins Larry and Jim and I were very close when we  were growing up in southeastern PA.  At family reunions, we always sat around and talked, and Larry and Jim told jokes while I mostly laughed.  Over the years we had promised that the three of us would get together again sometime.  When I retired last fall, we decided that it was time to do it.  This weekend seemed best, and I could visit them on my way to Duluth, MN for winter specialty birds. 

Friday, January 25 started snowy and cold in Cincinnati.  I first went to the Motor Vehicle office with my title to get my permanent license plates, because my temporary ones would expire during my trip to Duluth.  Once I had the plates, I could not figure out how to attach the front plate, so before heading home I stopped by the dealer where I bought the car.  They solved that problem.  Then I contacted Larry and his wife Alethea  to inquire about the weather in Chicago.  I also checked the Indiana and Illinois DOT sites.  The roads appeared clear though IN and IL and with no problems with lake effect snow just east of Chicago.  I left Cincinnati between 3:00 and 3:30 pm.  The trip to Larry and Alethea's house in Wheaton, IL took about 5.5 hours.  Upon my arrival, we left immediately for late dinner. 

Saturday morning after breakfast, Larry took me on a tour of Wheaton college where he taught chemistry for his whole career.  We discovered that Larry and Alethea's typical breakfast is nearly identical to mine after only occasional contact over the past 30 to 40 years!  Larry is six days older than me.  He was born on Christmas.  I was born on my grandpa Lehman's birthday, New Year's Eve.  How it was that both Larry and I became chemists with advanced degrees (PhD), the first in grandpa's lineage, is still a mystery.  I shared some digital photos of my brother Dallas and his wife Mary with their new grandchildren, Ava and Lana, daughters of son Erik and his wife Kim, and Sean, the son of daughter Amy and husband Ryan.  Then I packed up my belongings and drove Larry and me to Elgin, IL to meet Jim at a Denny's for brunch/lunch and a typical long talk session about our lives, etc.  We then went to a restaurant in Elgin for dinner, where we met up with Alethea and Peg, Jim's wife, and Joseph, Jim's nephew who is living with them.  Joseph is in high school and interested in science.  After a great meal and wonderful company, we departed and I stayed with Peg and Jim for the night.  Sunday morning I went to church with Peg and Jim, a shared service with the a local Elgin black church in which both congregations and choirs attend each others services.  After the two services, we went to Peg and Jim's house for a lunch, which was also almost identical to my typical lunch!  I spent some time with Joseph showing him the kinds of work I did in my career in the prescription and over-the counter pharmaceutical industry to give him and idea of what a career in chemistry could be.  I also showed Jim and Peg the same digital photos of parts of my family that they had not seen for a while or ever!

The weather in Chicago was snowy with freezing rain and icy conditions forecasted, so I stayed the night and left on Monday morning, thanks to Jim's and Peg's hospitality.  I decided to not go directly to Duluth, because the reports of winter rarities were still somewhat limited.  So, I went to Milwaukee first to look for Snowy Owl, two were reported at the Coast Guard inlet, white-winged gulls, Glaucous, Iceland and Thayer's, and a Hoary Redpoll had been reported in the area.             

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