Thursday, July 26, 2007

To Toot or not to Toot????

No, that is not really the question because the answer would always be yes, yes and yes. We spent four days in Chicago running around, shopping, creating and eating but what makes tootfest really toot is the laughter. The non-stop laughter, well except for Jane's brief ribbon moment, erased the cares and concerns of our everyday life and we simply lived for the moment. From our arrival at Midway greeted by Laura to our last deep dish the trip lived up to all to all the anticipation and hype.

Thursday started out with a trip to Portillos....hamburgers, chicago hot dogs, italian beef, chopped salad we had it all...and as you know from our Valley Ridge posts, a trip to Chicago is not complete without a feast at Portillos. Following in tradition's footsteps, we headed to LaGrange for the trek to Jackson Square Antique can see Laura and Kim outside with their treasures. Knowing my short attention span in antique malls - I headed to the hardware store for some wire and plexiglass and then to the bike store for a couple supplies.

Kim is pictured above tucked in the tootfestmobile that flawlessly guided us around the nightly chicagoland and later in the weekend to Indiana......oh no.......more antiques. After Jackson square we checked into our hotel, welcomed Trish to the party ...more fun was had at dinner at Buca di Beppo..then back to the hotel for evening art..........Friday off to bella luna a bead gallery kim has dying to visit in East Dundee. Deborah then guided us to Benedicts for actually had a tree growing through the roof! Friday also marked the day Noreen was introduced to the is Noreen with her long time pal Liberace who she misses dearly....(yes, it is me but don't worry my own mother didn't even recognize me).........
Jane joins us in the evening, we head back guessed it...portillos for dinner. Following dinner more creating....I carved the umbrella stamp you see here. Trish and Jane worked on swap projects, Laura on her alphabetica journal and Kim worked on Trish's journal.........

Saturday already, it seems as if we just landed. Anyway, we are off to another couple stores, Stampology, attempted to go to Carolina Moon but it was closed luckily Bodacious Beads right next door was open...then out for some Mexican....before we head back to our hotel so our resident book nut (Laura) can pick up the last Harry Potter books.....that girl has more books than barnes and noble...but she does inspire us all to read more which is always a good thing...back safely at the Embassy Suites our last night is capped off with Jane's ribbon dying demonstration....look at all those colors we had fun and made such a mess.

After checking out we were off for more antiquing in Crown Point, Indiana....oh no there are multiple antique establishments...but wait there is also a bar open, on Sunday and serving...but I resisted the temptation and meandered from person to person checking out their "finds of the day"........the shopping was topped off with some great deep dish on our way back to Midway...sorry no pictures it was gone too too fast!! We arrived back home about 1am Monday morning, Monday I was off to golf with a client, Wednesday off to Cleveland and back to CBus to lead a mountain bike ride..........finally able to get some words out here....but you better believe I would do it all again....I have been lucky to have had a couple of the best months...valley ridge to valley ridge to ann arbor to has been quite an experience to spend time with some amazing people, so different in their personalities, different life experiences...I loved every minute of it and look forward to the next time our paths cross.........I'll leave you with a few random images of the trip.......

Monday, July 16, 2007

What a weekend!!

I left you midway through our weekend on Saturday afternoon........let's just say the rest of the weekend did not disappoint. Kim's afternoon/evening class was with Lani Gerity who we met at Artfest last spring. Lani is coming to Columbus in September as a keynote speaker at The Buckeye Art Therapy Association Annual Symposium but we were lucky enough to sneak in a quick visit in Michigan. While Kim was in class, I ventured into Ann Arbor and found the Arbor Brewing Company. With nothing else pressing on the agenda, I nestled up to the bar ordered a Brassierie Blond. It can't compete with my favorite Spotted Cow but it was palatable.
Later in the evening, we took a brief drive around the University of Michigan campus with Shari Beaubini :) -- it was fun, lots of random pictures like this one of Kim in the car.......

Back at the hotel we said our goodbyes to Ms Beaubini as we had 10pm dinner plans with Lani. Our time with Shari was really incredible. I am still amazed how it feels like we have been friends for a lifetime even though our paths crossed only a mere two weeks ago....parting shots:

Dinner with Lani was so interesting as our time with Lani always is....we ate at Zingerman's a crazy little place down the road from our hotel. They have specialties from all over the US...fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, enchiladas and it goes on and on. Our conversation strayed from Artfest memories, to today's events and more importantly to our next meeting in September. Ellen will be coming up from Little Rock and we will have a little artfest reunion at Good Manor.

The next morning at Lani's recommendation, we had our morning caffeine fix at Zingerman's coffee shop conveniently located in their parking lot......After coffee, we were off one more quick swing through Ann Arbor and then home again just to unpack and pack again for Chicago............I can't wait to see everyone and Chi-town and belly up to another Chicago hot dog!!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Quick Trip Up North

We made it to Ann Arbor and the 3 hour drive was like a walk in the park compared to the 9 hours to Wisconsin. We were warmly greeted by Shari Beaubini (aka Shari Beaubien)while checking into the Best Western home of Altercations -- the accommodations are nothing to write home about but the company is 5 star. Kim will be taking a Shari's tissue box class and then a quick evening class with Lani from Nova Scotia. Today, I was off to Novi which is a suburb of Detroit a mere 30 minutes NE of Ann Arbor. I was headed to LakeShore Park to hit the 10 miles of singletrack calling my name. The trails were fabulous tight and twisty combined with fast and flowing sections....great trail design. These trails are maintained by the MMBA and were in great shape today as they are holding a race in the morning. (Michigan Mountain Bike Association) This trail has great "crater features" and even a dirt pump track along side of the trails; however, the trails flowed so well I didn't get off my bike much to snap many shots. Here are two shots that I did manage to snag:

Back on Ann Arbor I snuck in and took a quick snap shot of Kim and Shari in Shari's class. Everyone's creations were well underway.........
So, here you have a quick intro to our weekend in Michigan -- I am sure there will be much more to come.....stay tuned!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Perfect Sunday

I have been going on and on about the beautiful places I have visited in Wisconsin - the green pastures, bountiful woods and blue skies but it was on Sunday while mowing the grass I noticed the beauty right here at home......

I don't know what if it was the grain farm across the street, the cornfield with blue sky as the perfect backdrop but everything just seemed right. At least for now, this is were we are supposed to be.....yes, we have contemplated moving to various places over the past year Bexley, Chicago and Granville but for now this is home and there is quite a bit to enjoy. Don't fret my Chicago buddies if that perfect opportunity arises we'll be there in a flash.

This is the Jackson Farm, a working grain farm directly across the street. This year is corn, last year soybeans, corn the previous year so you get the rotation. The Jackson's are great people, we don't know them all that well but our interactions have been gracious. Mrs. Jackson is a cancer survivor and they are strong advocates and fund raisers for the Relay for Life cancer campaign. They have an annual pig roast where all proceeds go to the charity. This year they also had an ice cream social but unfortunately we were out of town.

Here are a few snapshots from around the property.....everything is growing and the gardens are starting to take shape.

Sunday ended with a quick trip to Heather and Leonard's on our way home from Kim's parents house. I dropped off some Spotted Cows for Leonard and we got a sneak peak at the nursery. Wow, a couple months and little Alexander will be here...I can't believe it. And oh I so wish I had a picture of Leonard and Heather on the porch when we were leaving, it was very comical; however, I think Heather would kill me if a posted it.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Wisconsin Take Two

.......after our first trip to Valley Ridge which you have read about we are back on the road to WI. Another opportunity to explore the country side and soak up all Valley Ridge has to offer, as well as spending some more time with the lovely Nina.
While Kim spent her days in class, I had the opportunity to wander around on two wheels explore the area and connect with myself. My days were filled with self exploration and my
evening spent with fun and laughter meeting new people and forging new friendships you will soon learn about as we proceed through the weekend. I will take you on a virtual tour of my weekend narrated by the pictures below.

I started my Friday ride in Barneveld on the Military Ridge trail en route to Blue Mounds State Park to hit the local singletrack.....singletrack trails are approx 18 inches in width usually mountain bike specific maintained by local volunteers. These trails were maintained by WORBA and were in great shape. (Wisconsin Off Road Bike Association)

Here is an example of the singletrack at Blue Mounds -- lots of roots and rocks keeps you on your toes!!This is a HUGE boulder just off the trail, you will see it again later.....
After a hot ride, I made it back to Barneveld about 18 miles total for the day, not a lot but enough when exploring on my own. My next stop was the New Glarus Brewery which was a priority this trip to pick up a case of Spotted Cow beer that one can not buy in Ohio.

The next surprise of this trip was the wonderful evenings we spent with Tracie and her husband Earl and Shari...who I like to call Shari Beaubini! We spent three evenings together telling stories, laughing and making sugar packets come to life. One would have thought we had all known each other for years....they all really made this trip special......and we get to see Shari again this weekend on a very random and spontaneous trip to Ann Arbor.

My biking adventures of day two took place at Governor Dodge State Park in Dodgeville - here is a view from the trailhead..just beautiful.

This park had so much to offer from wide open fields, to two lakes, to ravines and of course more large boulders as seen here with my bike. Never a dull moment.....But my day did end a little early with a flat tire...but I was close enough to the car that I didn't have to change the tube out on the trail.

Since I was done on the bike, I headed over to Stephen's Falls and took the short hike in...

Following my outdoor activities, I headed to Platteville which is about 20 west Mineral Point and 10 miles south of Valley Ridge. Here is a picture of the student center at UW-Platteville. I was interested in visiting campus as we played UW-Platteville in various softball tournaments during my collegiate career.

I arrived back at Valley Ridge each evening between 4:30 and 5:00 to pick up Kim and make plans with our evening plans with our dinner crew.

Sunday I spent most of the day simply hanging out at Valley Ridge doing absolutely nothing, something I have not done for a long time, well maybe never. Anyway, it was a great way to end these two journeys to Valley Ridge. I just love these pictures of Kim and Nina below -- they simply exemplify the love, laughter and sense of expression I experienced during my time here...

Monday was an extremely long and exhausting ride home but nothing, including our three hour trip through Chicago traffic will tarnish the experiences and memories I have from my first experiences at Valley Ridge. I can't wait to get back......

Now that you know what I was up to I'll share a few self portraits I took while entertaining myself throughout this weekend.....yes it was nice to have some time alone but as those of you who know me know I do not have that long of an attention span so here I am messing around here and there.......