Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Columbus Day

Pretend with me for a moment that Columbus really did discover America. Even though there were plenty of other explorers here first, including Leif Erickson some alleged 500 years prior. I know I misspelled his name, but if you google him they spell it with a "c" on some sites and a "k" on some others so I just used both. None of those sites mention the thousands of Native Americans that were lodging in the undiscovered land.

Not every state celebrates Columbus Day, but Illinois does. We close the schools and the banks and use it as an excuse to play in the beautiful fall leaves. This year even Dan took off work and we decided to take a drive up to Lake Geneva. We had thought about going on Saturday because it was Octoberfest up there but when the temperatures plummeted and the rain came we adjusted our plans. Bonus - Wisconsin doesn't close the schools for this particular "holiday" and so the downtown streets weren't nearly as crowded as we'd expected them to be on the sunny and 62 degree Monday afternoon.

We went first to the place my son had been dreaming about since the last time we were in Lake Geneva...the comic book store. The owner is almost as entertaining as the merchandise. I dare you to stump him on a character or plotline. He makes the Big Bang Theory actors look like actors.

After carefully perusing the myriad shelves of Marvel, D.C., X-Men and other assorted hereos and villains, Ryan selected his five Heroclix figures and laid out his remaining stash of babysitting money. Or he would have had he remembered his wallet. I floated him the loan. That took about an hour.

We walked up and down the cute shops and looked around before ducking into the Caribou ordering one smoothie and one coffee for the five of us and played a board game for another hour. It was glorious.

After our considerable warm up and relaxation we ventured to the beach where the wind was whipping full force off the lake. We let the kids run up and down the docks, take pictures by the fountain in front of the Riveria and pet the horse sadly bridled to the costly carriage ride before making our way to everyone else's favorite store...Kilwins. If you don't know Kilwin's I'm very sorry for you. It's the candy, fudge and ice cream parlor of yore where they make it fresh in front of you, sell it by the weight and you know your purchase will never make it back to the car.

We took a ride through the rustic drive that spans 2.6 miles just west of the town where it winds past the estates that used to belong to the Chicago Wrigley family (yes, THAT Wrigley) and other well-to-do types. We'd be happy to set up camp in any of their gatehouses or servants quarters among the splendor of the autumn trees.

We parked by the Convenant Harbor Christian Camp which has some of the most breathtaking foliage surrounding the lake for the photo op. The state of my hair in the above photo can attest to the velocity of the wind coming off the lake. That or a small dog jumped onto my head at the last minute.

We headed back to town and ate dinner at the famous Popeye's where they were serving a seasonal Octoberfest menu including locally made Bratwurst. Oh. Man.

We left just before sunset and watched the sky turn all shades of pink and orange on the way home. We were back in our driveway at 7pm.

Columbus may not have had much of anything to do with "discovering" America, but I was more than happy to use a holiday in his honor to celebrate the country we live in during my favorite season with my four favorite traveling buddies.

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