Champaign Fireworks: July 4, 2014

We sat in lawn chairs in our building’s parking lot and watched fireworks with the neighbors Friday night. It was an enjoyable 30 minutes, even with the power lines in the way, because we didn’t have to deal with a crowd or drive anywhere special to see them.

Champaign was not my first choice for relocation last year when I was job hunting. I really, really, really wanted to move to Milwaukee. But for this and many other reasons, Champaign keeps growing on me.

champaign illinois fireworks

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Milwaukee, Summerfest, and Dave Matthews Band

Milwaukee July 2014
Clockwise from top left: Milwaukee skyline from Marcus Amphitheater lawn; Lake Michigan shoreline from Marcus Amphitheater lawn; DMB plays Marcus Amphitheater; Grant Park Beach; Kopp’s Frozen Custard.

Bad News First

On Wednesday, we went to Milwaukee for a couple of days to catch Dave Matthews Band at Summerfest and hang out with Dan’s mom. It was the kind of mini-vacation that threatened not to be a vacation at all. First, it was 57° and misting the entire time we were at “Summer”fest. Yes, we were in Wisconsin…but damn!

Then, during DMB’s second set, the speakers went out. If you had lawn tickets–and we did–then you were treated to the muffled sounds of a band the size of ants being drowned out by Bonnie Raitt playing the next stage over. (Nothing against Bonnie Raitt at all, but I paid for DMB tickets.) I understand that we live in an imperfect world. Things happen; there are technical glitches. However, when the second half of a performance blows, there’s no recovering.

But it was our stay at Candlewood Suites that really sucked. The room they put us in had a bum door. It was nearly impossible to open and we knew it when we dropped off our bags at check-in, but we had places to be–namely, Summerfest. We left thinking the door would be nothing more than a minor inconvenience. We got back to the room many hours later, completely exhausted after the concert. All we wanted to do was crash, so we threw our hips and shoulders into the door to get it open. We were in, and went quickly to sleep.

It turned into a real problem the morning when Dan went out to Dunkin’ Donuts to grab breakfast while I slept in. When he came back, he couldn’t get the door open from the outside, and I couldn’t get it open from the inside. Much crankiness ensued, including some rage Tweets and a Facebook post warning all who were watching not to ever book a room at the Candlewood Suites hotel in Milwaukee. We got moved to a different room after the maintenance guy judged the problem to be to complicated for a quick fix. We took the problem to the front desk and ended up with a downgrade to a Queen from a King room. When the hotel staff told us, “Don’t worry, it’s a cheaper rate,” our response was “Damn right it is.”

The only thing worse than an uncomfortable bed? A smaller uncomfortable bed. And that’s exactly what we got.

And Now the Good News

Despite the problems, the trip still had plenty of great moments. On Friday morning, we drove to Grant Park Beach in Dan’s hometown to watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan. It was a breathtaking 10 minutes. When it was over, we went back to the hotel and slept until checkout.

grant park beach sun rise south milwaukee
Sunrise over Lake Michigan. Grant Park Beach, South Milwaukee, WI.

For lunch we went to Kopp’s Frozen Custard, where we didn’t order frozen custard at all. Instead we ordered jumbo cheeseburgers. It was the best diner-style cheeseburger I’ve ever had the pleasure of cramming in my pie hole.

We spent some time with Dan’s mom too. On Thursday evening, we sprung her from her retirement home, and in return she treated us to Trattoria di Carlo. She talked about her grandmother and grandfather who went to college here in Champaign-Urbana at the University of Illinois (total coincidence we ended up here–my father went to U of I too), how her mother taught for a while in Homer, Illinois (another crazy coincidence), and how when Dan was little they caught him literally swinging from a chandelier. (There are other great Baby Dan stories too…maybe another post?)

Somehow, toward’s the end of our meal the dinner conversation turned to pot. Dan mentioned that (legally) smoking pot was on my bucket list, when I corrected him and said, “Actually, I don’t want to smoke it. I’d prefer to try mine in brownie form.” To which my mother-in-law replied, “Me too!”

 

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Charting My Resolve with Weight Watchers and Fitbit

Thinking of using Weight Watchers online or Fitbit yourself? Ask your questions in the comments.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m trying to wean myself of some bad eating habits while working to reverse a vitamin D deficiency. It’s not exactly easy, but as of this writing I still consider it doable.

As far as exercise is concerned, some days are better than others. The most depressing thing for me at present is that walking more than 2.5 miles a day is next to impossible. By the end of my second lap around the walking path at my neighborhood park, my muscles don’t want to carry me. I’m not exaggerating when I say I stumble back to our apartment building like a drunk. I guess it’s lack of strength and muscle coordination. I don’t know. It’s frustrating.

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