Monday, December 19, 2011

Tour de Fat

Chicago, IL. July took us on an adventure through 7 states in 9 days and numerous stops for local treats.

The road trip stemmed from Don’s desire to experience the Tour de Fat – a bicycle-centric festival sponsored by the New Belgium Brewing Company.

The festival was held in Palmer Square, a park on the outskirts of Chicago. Highlights included a performance by synchronized bicycle dancers (think synchronized swimming, but using bicycles instead of water), a bicycle parade, and The Bike Pit (artistically altered bicycles anyone could ride – Ashley’s favorite had a series of shoes in lieu of tires). There were also bicycle-themed skits and activities.

While in Chicago we walked along Lake Michigan, around downtown and on the Magnificent Mile, visiting the American Girl Store and the Disney Store. 

The trip turned into a personal “Tour de Fat.” It coincided with a major heat wave and each stop included sampling local ice cream and other sweets.

Our first stop was Columbus, OH. We stayed with Aunt Debra and Uncle Tom Smith. After touring Slate Run (a historic site), we stopped at Fantasy Cupcakes in Canal Winchester, OH with them and Cousin Laura. Later we visited Tom’s mom, Marge Smith, and his sister, Joanie Smith Morris. Joanie, my running partner, happened to be in Bexley at the same time, so we went on our only training run together. It was great running with her, and great to have a chance to burn off some calories.

While in Columbus, we visited with our friend Heidi Harendza, a New Jersey transplant living in the German Village section of the city. She took us to Jeni’s, a new ice cream parlor that is rapidly spreading beyond its Columbus origins. We also visited Cousin David Smith at his new job at Tim Horton’s, where we had a fruit smoothie.

Continuing west, our next stop was Beaver Creek, OH for lunch with Joe
Langer, a friend of Don’s from high school. We met at Mimi’s CafĂ© for lunch and shared a dessert trio.

The next leg of the trip (the drive to Chicago) was not so sweet. We sat for 2¼ hours in a traffic jam, or should I say we stood in a traffic jam since we were able to get out of our car and walk around meeting people. If only Indiana had a site I could have sent them some great pictures.

After the Tour de Fat festival in Chicago, we continued to Washington, IL to visit our friend Rebecca Weltmann. We have known her since she was a teen. Now she is the solo pastor of Washington Presbyterian Church. The timing allowed us to hear her preach and go out to lunch with her. Lunch was followed by Key Lime Pie over ice cream.

A benefit of going to the Tour de Fat festival in Chicago was visiting my 85-year-old great aunt, Lee Thomas. Three years ago she moved from New Jersey to an assisted living residence in Illinois. It was great seeing her looking so well.

Barbara, Scott, Blaire and Haleigh Theurerkoff (Aunt Lee’s daughter and her family) joined us for Gino’s Chicago deep dish pizza, followed by ice cream at Oberweis Dairy.

The trip home we took a different route. We spent two days in East Lansing, MI with Jennie, Chris, Emma, Bella and Luke Waters. Emma and Ashley are best friends from kindergarten, but had not seen each other in three years. They picked up as if only three days had passed. It was hard to separate them at the end of our stay. The Waters family took us to the Michigan State University Dairy Store. Ice cream is produced there as part of their Food Science program.

While Ashley stayed with Emma and her family, Don and I drove to Grand Rapids to visit Steve Paulsen. Steve, Don and I worked together many years ago. Steve navigated us to Holland, MI where we toured Steve’s alma mater, Hope College, and watched the sun set over Lake Michigan. Though we did not have dessert with Mr. Paulsen, Don did have a tasty beer called Dragon’s Milk.

We continued east with a stop in Bethel Park, PA to visit Bruce and Debbie Thomas, Aunt Lee’s son and daughter-in-law. Debbie cooked a wonderful meal, including homemade peanut butter ice cream for dessert. Yum!

After the last five hours on the road, we celebrated coming home with Chinese food from Tiger Noodle. Based on the rest of this trip, we should have had Purple Cow Ice Cream instead.      

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