Visiting Tom’s Family

My sister-in-law, Sarah, arranged for me to join them for a performance of the musical, Hamilton, in Chicago during May so I decided to visit both sisters at their respective homes before heading to Chicago. On Friday, May 17th, I left home early in the morning to drive to sister-in-law, Lynda, and her husband’s place outside Stryker, OH. Arrived at their place around 4:00 in the afternoon; the drive was uneventful and traffic not very bad. That evening, Lynda fixed hamburgers on the grill; we spent the evening catching up with each other’s lives. The next day we went shopping in Defiance, OH. Because the weather was much colder than the forecast had shown, I needed to purchase some warm clothing so ended up finding a sweatshirt and pair of dressy knit pants. Lynda had pulled a pair of jeans she was giving to Goodwill out of her box and gave them to me. That evening, we ate at “Mom’s” Restaurant in Archbold.

Lynda and Jim
Barnes Residence

On Sunday, the 19th, we drove to Sarah and Mike’s place in Adrian, MI. Once there, we loaded into their vehicle for a drive to Chelsea, MI where we were having a family dinner at nephew, Jason, home. What a beautiful home, nestled among the trees, with design similar to Frank Lloyd Wright. It was an afternoon of delicious food, and great conversations. We arrived back in Adrian around 5:15; Lynda and Jim left for their home while we drove to niece, Jana’s, and her family home. Spent a couple hours talking to Jana, Mark, and the kids. Went back to Sarah and Mike’s where we settled in for the night.

Sarah and Mike
The Family
Lots of Good Food

The next day Sarah and I drove to a new garden nursery she had been wanting to explore. After that, we drove into Tecumseh where we visited a few shops, including one winery where I purchased a bottle of local wine, and had lunch at a real cool place called British Tea Garden. Once we arrived back in Adrian, Sarah and I walked the downtown area where I saw many changes. We also stopped in the Croswell Opera House, an historic theater, that Sarah and Mike support; it is a beautiful place. Mike was playing on a golf league so Sarah and I had pizza at the Pizza Bucket. Since we were leaving early the next morning to catch a train in Jackson for downtown Chicago, we got our bags organized and ready to go.

Early, early, early is the best way to describe the over hour drive to Jackson the next morning. Got on the train for downtown Chicago; because of some delay on the tracks, it took about 5 hours to get to Chicago’s downtown station. Upon arrival, we grabbed a taxi for a ride to the hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, that we had reserved. After checking in and taking luggage to our rooms, we met downstairs and walked to Grand Lux Cafe, a place Sarah and Mike had experienced before and really liked, for lunch. More walking familiarized us with the area. Back at the hotel, we got ready for the evening performance of the musical Hamilton. Before the performance, we met up with the gal who was raised in Adrian and worked at the supervisor of the Costume Department for the theater company; she was able to get us very good seats close to the stage. We met at the bar/restaurant, the Grillroom, across from the theater. After she left to get the cast ready for the performance, we stayed for a bite to eat. When it was time, we walked across the street to the theater where we experienced a fantastic performance; it was very, very enjoyable! After the performance, we were able to go on stage and meet one of the major actors. And then a walk back to the hotel where we settled in for the night.

Train Station @ Jackson
Outside Theater
In front of stage

Wednesday found us, after breakfast at the hotel, heading to Millennium Park which is an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design. The last time I was in downtown Chicago, I did not have a chance to visit the park so really wanted to see it this visit. And it was very enjoyable to walk around and see all the sculptures. We grabbed a taxi for Northerly Island where Hamilton The Exhibition was located. A very detailed, informative exhibit in which we spent close to three hours exploring. And, like many visitors, I had a buy a souvenir at their gift shop. We returned to downtown Chicago where we had lunch at the Weber Grill Restaurant. We then walked down the Miracle Mile; stopped and purchased popcorn at Garrett’s which is well known in Chicago for their caramel popcorn. Back at the hotel, we went to our respective rooms for a few hours of relaxation. That evening we had dinner at an Italian place called Pizzeria Due. After dinner, we stumbled upon a place that had restaurants, gourmet food, deli, and merchandise all rolled into one. It was a great place to explore…even though I cannot remember the name of it. Back to the hotel for the rest of the evening.

Statue in Park
The Bean
Reflection Pool
Hamilton Exhibit

Skyline Downtown Chicago

Thursday was our last day in Chicago before our catching the train back to Jackson at 5:45 that evening. We were checked out of the hotel but left our luggage in storage and took off to explore some shops. There was a Canadian store called Roots that was having a grand opening of a new store in Chicago; Sarah was familiar with the store from their many visits to Canada so she wanted to see what the new store had to offer. And I wanted to find Patagonia for another shopping experience. First, we found Roots but it was not opening for another hour; however, the manager let us into the store and gave us free leather passport handlers that we could have engraved when the store officially opened later in the morning. We proceeded to the address of Patagonia; I found a pair of lightweight sweatpants that I purchased. By the time I completed browsing and made a purchase, Roots was open so we went back to the store. All of us had our leather passport holders engraved with name and design. Purchases were made and we walked back to the hotel. It was mid-afternoon, so we decided to find a lunch/early dinner spot; we went to Rock Bottom Brewery down the street from the hotel. After having a drink and appetizer, we spent time in the lobby of the hotel. Around 4:00, we retrieved our luggage and found a taxi to take us to the train station. Because of the traffic, it took about an hour to arrive at the station. Our train arrived and we were on our way to Jackson. Dinner was a glass of wine from the dining car and the bag of cheesy popcorn I had purchased the day before. We got there around 10:30; found the car and drove back to Adrian where we arrived around 11:45; all of us off to bed.

On Friday, the 24th, I got up at 5:00 in order to be on the road by 5:30. Filled my traveling mugs with coffee and water. Because it was the start of a holiday week end, I wanted to be around Chicago by 11:00 in order to avoid traffic. Made very good time; got around Chicago with no problems and arrived home around 3:30 pm Iowa time. Another successful adventure; it was good to spend time with Tom’s family and being able to see Hamilton at the same time.

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