Sunday, July 09, 2006

Florida & the 4th of July

Let's see... Where to begin?

Wednesday - The Last Day
It dawned on me on the train ride towards Kankakee that Wednesday night could very well be the last night my family all lived together in the same state. See, I've already talked about my sisters moving to Florida, but I haven't talked much about the fact that my parents have sold their house effective next summer, and they're considering moving down towards Tennessee or North Carolina. I grew up in the same house from two years old. My sisters both moved out of there permanently this past weekend.

I thought that, since I left after lunchtime, I'd be able to avoid most of the packing duties that would have otherwise been mine. And, while I did miss a lot of the small stuff, I did happen show up in just enough time to lend a hand loading (and unloading and reloading) the big stuff. Not cool. My brother also had me and my dad come with him to load a set of stairs in a trailer at the festival grounds. My life flashed before my eyes briefly as I could feel the weight of the stairs begin to break my strength. I should really start to work out more often.

The family then went out to Chicago Dough, our old stomping ground, to scarf down some pizzas and have a quiet chat for a bit. Some people at the table next to us were talking about loose stool.

The whole neighborhood then came over to say goodbye to Lindsey and Erin. We laughed and joked, and we collectively readjusted a few more things in the moving truck, and...

my grandpa conned a ride in a hot sports car from my parents' next door neighbor. My grandpa is a speed freak, by the way. He's been pulled over twice in the past two years - once in Kentucky and once in New Mexico - doing 92mph both times. I guess he figures that, at the age of 82, he better get things moving along as fast as possible.

Before we went to bed, I taught my sisters and my brother how to play a little Texas Hold 'Em. Lindsey won the game, though we weren't playing for cash. She cleaned up on the final hand with a fours full of fives full house. She also knocked out Erin, my other sister, with a straight to Erin's set of kings. Congrats, Linds.

Thursday - The Drive

We were out and on the road by 6:30am, and made our first pit-stop at a Starbucks in Kankakee. We had two cars and the moving truck, which was towing a third car for their new roommate, who is moving into the apartment next month.

Lindsey and I shared the first drive, and asked Erin and Andy to hook us up with some chocolate milk chugs from a gas station along the way. They get the genius idea to buy quart chugs instead of pint chugs. It was one of the rare times in my life where I had more chocolate milk than I could drink, and I thank them both for that.

Typical passenger responsibility on a 19-hour road trip: sleep. Lindsey, above, demonstrates the proper passenger-seat sleeping position - head against window, arms folded across chest, eyes closed.

Andy thought he was hot stuff because he drove the truck for quite a bit of the trip. I optioned out of that responsibility as soon as we hit a patchy spot five miles into the trip and the car on the back of the truck looked like it was going to bounce off the trailer. I didn't want to deal with that kind of responsibility. So they let this guy do it instead. Again, another genius move.

We stopped at a rest area in Tennessee, and it was completely and totally packed. By far the busiest rest area I've seen in my entire life. Mind-blowing, to be quite honest.

I closed out the first day's trip with a foot-long chili cheese dog at some Dairy Queen in southern Georgia. We still had about an hour-and-a-half until we hit the hotel. I scarfed it down in five minutes, though everyone else left us behind. We told them we'd catch up, and kindly asked that they give us updates if they saw state troopers along the way. Wouldn't you believe we ran across five squad cars sitting in the median in the middle of the night with their running lights off in the span of about thirty miles? I'm amazed I made it through without getting a ticket.

Last note about Thursday: the cab in the moving truck, we discovered during a late-night rainstorm, let water flow through in quite tremendous amounts. My dad and my little brother were soaked. The next morning, as we made our way through Florida, my dad and my sister got soaked.

Friday - The Move

We arrived at their new pad at about noon and we had them all moved in just before 2pm, thanks in large part to the fact that we were able to back the moving ramp to the stoop which lead directly into their living room. How awesome is that? We sandbagged quite a bit of the smaller items and only teamed up on the larger things like mattresses and furniture.

It was kind of surreal having to come to terms with the fact that my little sisters are both half a country away now, and that I may not see them again until Thanksgiving or Christmas at the latest. I am proud of them and I know that they will thrive in their new environment. This picture's for you, kids. Enjoy.

My flight left Orlando at 6:15pm and I was back at my apartment in Chicago by 9pm. It's amazing to think that it took us about 19 hours to drive there, and less than four to get me all the way back again.

Side note: I do not miss flying on a weekly basis at all.

Saturday - 4th of July Party
Now why, you are probably asking yourself, did he rush to get back home so soon? Well, it was Annie's family's annual 4th of July Party in Rockford. Nothing but fun, games, and food, that's all.

Every year there is a red, white, and blue contest. This year the contest was to create a red, white, and blue-filled basket. Annie filled up a trash can with red, white, and blue trash. Her sister took a small basket and filled it with red, white, and blue clay hands along with the word "HELL" crafted from clay - Hell in a handbasket. Quite clever, both entries. They received honorable mentions. Pictured above is their cousin Todd's entry: a "Red, Wheat, and Blue Beer 'Basket'" (aka Beer Garden), which he erected in the back corner of the year. He had a large metal bucket filled with Red Seal Ale, Blueberry Ale, and Wheat Ale, and, since everyone at the party wears red, white, and blue clothing, his "beer basket" was also filled with appropriately-dressed patrons, as well. Infinitely clever. He got my vote. First prize was a lawn chair complete with a sun umbrella, pictured above.

Bingo's one of the big games everyone plays with prizes for pretty much everyone. I took in this mosquito head net for completing my BINGO during the second round. I'll wear it faithfully during the camping trip at the beginning of August.

Did I also mention that there's enough food there to feed a small country, too?

All-in-all, it is one of my favorite family functions of the year. We just got home today, and are trying to recup from all of the motion over the course of the past week. Now I guess we just have to prepare ourselves for our own big move.


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