Life presents you with opportunities. You can’t control anything in life except how you react to those moments…
Chicago started out great. We had a personal tour guide around Lincoln Park Zoo, with our friend’s dad, Rick. I approached armed with my Phoenix Zoo Reciprocal Membership card ready to see what discount I would receive on tickets only to be pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s a free zoo paid for by private donors! Our guide was so patient with our kids and questions. We saw a sloth and hippo up close for the first time! After the zoo we thanked Rick and our adventure began.
We knew we wanted to eat Chicago Style deep dish pizza and see “The Bean”. Besides that we were up for wandering. We got an Uber and stumbled upon a free blues concert. The venue was large, grassy, beautiful and everyone seemed to be having a good time. We decided to get closer, and closer, and squirmed up to the front to sit. James, our son, was the the most quiet and appreciative of the performance. We have never taken the kids to a blues show before. Daddy James and I could not believe how amazing the band was.
I liked Lee Fields & The Expressions on Facebook immediately and sat through the encore and then finally we were on our way to The Bean. That was cool. Copa America was also going on so we saw a bunch of excited football/soccer fans shouting the “Ole” song below us. Then we were drawn to fountains that were large, had images of peoples faces that would spout out water and there was a model photo shoot going on around them. I mean really… Chicago had so much culture going on!!
After one kid falling into the fountain and multiple annoying trips to the bathroom because that’s what happens when you roll with 4 kids and a lot of walking when ended up at Giordano’s, a Chicago Style Deep Dish pizza restaurant! We got our table, selected the pizza we wanted, cringed when we saw it took 45 minutes to cook and then looked at our watches. It was 10:30pm and we were supposed to get back to our RV by 11pm because of parking.
We stared into each other’s eyes and decided at the same time “Fuck it”. We have since described this as our “Linchpin Moment”. This is when we really started embracing the adventure, stopped trying to control everything and see what comes our way. We had a super yummy dinner. Two kids fell asleep before the pizza came. We carried them out to the Uber after dinner and the older two dragged their feet behind us. We were able to safely get back to our RV and uneventfully drive out early the next morning once the gates were open again.
Deciding to enjoy the moment was the linchpin. It caused a series of changes in our plans and we ended up parking in a truck marshalling parking lot. James took a walk around the parking lot to find the safest path to bike to city sights. While walking, James saw another RV in the lot and he glimpsed some kids bouncing around in the front. He just kept walking but then he saw their bikes and thought, maybe they’re traveling like us. As he walked up toward their RV, a man stepped out. He had seen James walk by and thought “I must meet this man.” It turns out they are another family traveling in an RV, like us. They are only towing bicycles, like us. They have 4 kids (3 boys, 1 girl) like us. They work from the road, like us. They blog, like us. They homeschool, like us. And most freaky of all they started traveling for a year with their family April 1st just like us!!
The next few days we played around Chicago together and James really connected with Juan, the father. We spoke a lot of Spanish since they are from Argentina originally and Cata and the kids are still learning. It was fun and tiring to think all day in Spanish and to compare travel experiences. When we parted ways to drive to our previous commitments it was too soon and sad.
We went to the Blues Festival & enjoyed free samples of pizza that came with mustaches!
That linchpin moment has changed everything. I write this to you now as we are about to reconnect with our friends again 6 1/2 weeks later (it’s been too long!) so we can travel together.
Our adventurous spirit brought us to a great family that is fun and we will continue to make memories with as we wander west. I am so glad we decided to sit and eat that pizza in Giordano’s.