Enjoying the Heartland with Family and Friends

Me & baby brother Al.

As we pushed farther into the Midwest, or what some know as the heartland of this country, we were hoping for some quality time with my youngest brother and family. We knew that with three very active children and two busy jobs, time would be limited, so we scheduled our visit accordingly. I was hoping that with the crazy schedule the kids have, we would at least get a glimpse of all three and a quick hug. As luck would have it, we got more than that. 🙂

A small town in Illinois, population 1,500, is where our road trip took us, a town next door to where I grew up as a kid. Even back there I guess I had wanderlust as I spread my wings and flew west right out of high school, but seeing this community again, and the tight group of friends my brother’s family has, it is obvious that it’s been a great place for them to raise their family.

Even before we arrived we discovered that our niece Paige was scheduled to play in an out-of-town volleyball game, one of just a few sports she excels at. As luck would have it, it was not far from where we were so we made a detour and joined mother and grandmother in the bleachers to cheer her team on. The night was a disappointment for her team, with a very unusual loss for them, but we were grateful that we were able to see her play.

And our nephews, being boys through-and-through, showed us their skill on their dirt bikes. Our youngest nephew Blake had recently healed from a rather serious break due to a dirt bike accident, but as is often the case with the youth, he “got back on the horse” as soon as he healed. His older brother Seth did much the same thing when he had a scary dirt bike accident a few years ago.

Getting kids to sit still at all, much less when aunts and uncles visit, is a tough job, so we were grateful they took some time to slow down while we were passing through.

We had good weather until that weekend, when high winds came through, damaging their new pool, followed by another storm later that day, bringing rain/snow showers. Looks like no Indian summer this year.

While in Patagonia earlier this year, a couple of dear friends, as well as neighbors, moved back to Evanston, IL to be closer to family. We were saddened by the news so we knew that, if within striking distance of their new home, a visit would be on our agenda.

Most of our time in Evanston was spent just catching up on our lives, but our friends, Kent and Cookie, also agreed to be our personal tour guides of the lovely city they now call home.

One of the more memorable stops was to the Bahá’í Temple in Wilmette. The grounds were lovely, even this late in the year, and the architecture striking, but the Bahá’í vision was what resonated most of all, a vision of hope and healing.

“All peoples and nations are of one family, the children of one Father, and should be to one another as brothers and sisters.”   ~  Bahá’u’lláh

As much as we enjoyed our visit with our friends, the four-legged member of their family, Petie, almost always steals the show, and this visit was no exception. I wondered if he would remember us after this long of an absence, but as soon as we walked into the door he jumped up on my leg, threw his head back and howled, a sure sign that he recognized us. Hugs to all three of our Evanston friends. We are grateful for your generosity.

Me and my buddy Petie.

33 thoughts on “Enjoying the Heartland with Family and Friends

  • How wonderful to get caught up with family and friends! You were a special aunt to be hanging with the kids!!

    It’s always a treat to get back to your roots!

  • Looks like a fun time with family. Glad that the niece and nephews were able to put on a few shows. Dirt bikers are a crazy group. Petie is a real cutie. I hope you brought treats!

    • It was so nice to see all three kids as it is typically like herding cats to get them all together with their schedules. You are the treat lady my friend. He has special treats that our friends give him, and I was able to be the gifter, so I had a buddy all the while we were there.

  • Such wonderful photos of you and your family, LuAnn. It sounds like you had a really good visit, and how fun for you to see the kids in action in their various sports. Also sweet to have time with good friends. Petie is adorable!

    • Thanks Laurel. As I said to Pam, given the kids’ schedules, it has been like herding cats to get them all together in the past. It was great to be able to visit with all of them. Petie is able as cute as he can be, with quite the personality.

  • Looks like you all had so much fun. Evanston is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Chicago given that it is on the lake and close to many ethnic neighborhoods such as the Indian Devon Street and Argyle Street which is Vietnamese. It also is quite the cultural place and I attended painting classes there at the Art Center for many years when my children were little. Ben even lived in Evanston for a while when he first moved to Chicago. And today my niece attends NorthWestern University.

    Your photos of the Bahai Temple bring back wonderful memories of the many times we visited there.



  • Enjoyed reading this fun and heartwarming account of your visit with family and friends LuAnn. The Bahai temple is beautiful, and it’s vision so relevant today.

  • I’m from Iowa, and I’ll be heading there soon….so I really enjoyed reading your post about visiting family (and Kent and Cookie!) Heartwarming!

  • Visiting family is always heart warming! I just learned that you grew up in the heartland 🙂 Weather was not exactly what we had hoped for as well but all we could do is make do of what we are dealt with.

    • I grew up in such a small town and, although many of my friends and family still live there, I could not see a future there for me. As for the weather, Mother Nature has final say on that, doesn’t she? So glad you have safely survived all the storms swirling around you.

  • OMG, you are so close. We just got home last night from a month in Europe including a river cruise and transatlantic crossing with Cheryl and Zeke. How long will you be around? Know visiting family is first priority, but let us know if you have a free couple hours to meet. .

    • I felt bad that other friends in the area wanted to visit as well and we didn’t have the time to do so. We moved on from IL a couple of weeks ago but would certainly love to hear about your river cruise, as that is high on our list. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to catch up this trip.

  • Hi LuAnn! So nice to follow along on your travels. And yes to spending quality time with friends and family. That is definitely one of my core values too. And I am still not able to sign up for email notifications? Hmmm….It does say I am subscribed to your blog but I just go to a page where it lists the other blogs I follow. I wonder if it is a setting of mine? I will check that out because I don’t want to miss any of your posts. Happy travels! ~Kathy

    • Each of every one of your posts are so thought-provoking Kathy. So glad to be following along. A question for you: When you go onto my site, do you see a widget on the side bar that allows you to put in your email address? I went into my settings and deleted and then added that widget again. I haven’t had anyone else mention this, although some may like to find posts from their Reader. I, for you, do not and would rather go into my email account daily and find new posts. I will also look into it again on my end.

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