Earl and I are back at home after a wonderful vacation. I took the laptop along and typed up a log entry every night before going to bed, with hopes of uploading it to my blog when I got home. Apparently, Mr. Bill Gates didn’t agree with that philosophy, as his handiwork (read ‘Windows 2000 Professional’) chewed up and spit out my blog entries. I certainly hope it wasn’t an editorial comment of some sort. Nevertheless, I am installing Red Hat Linux on my laptop as I type this on my workstation. I’m switching this over to RedHat as well over the weekend.

Anyways, we had an absolutely wonderful time in the midwest. We left Tuesday afternoon, around 3 p.m. and headed for our first hotel stop, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. This was a planned overnight stay on our way to Madison, Wisconsin. I’ve been complaining a little bit about the lack of thunderstorms this year and someone must have heard my complaints, because we had quite the storm that night around 2 a.m. The wind was gusting around 40 MPH, the thunder and lightning was crazy, it was GREAT! Best part? The hotel fire alarm system went off and we had to evacuate in the middle of it. Since we were on vacation, we didn’t really care. No reason to stress.

After a quick breakfast, we were on the road. We ended up driving right through the middle of Chicago. Apparently, the folks in Illinois don’t really know the meaning of “express”, as we spent two hours in a parking lot on the express lanes of I-90.

After a bit of that, we finally arrived at our hotel in Janesville, Wisconsin. A nice little Hampton Inn, with lots of Harley riders since it was the 100th anniversary of Harley-Davidson and everyone was celebrating.

It was refreshing to see that Wisconsin is rather laid back when it comes to laws and legal stuff. There’s no helmet law for motorcyclists. You can walk on the street drinking a beer (apparently). People can talk on their cell phones while driving. I could go on. I find New York State to be entirely too stifling when it comes to that stuff. Government is too busy worrying about everyone else and making a law to cover everything. I feel that a motorcyclist should be wearing a helmet. But I don’t believe there should be a law saying that he or she has to wear the helmet. Government is there to be leaders, not baby sitters. Sorry about that little rant.

Anyways, Wisconsin is absolutely beautiful. It’s sort of like the Colorado, east of Denver (to the west is the Rocky Mountains). I really like the flat areas of the midwest.

We ended up eating at an Olive Garden in Janesville on Wednesday night. You know what that means. J.P. had a little too much wine to drink! Earl ended up driving us back to the hotel. And I had a headache the next morning.

On Thursday we went to Spring Green, Wisconsin by way of Madison. I picked up a modem for the laptop at CompUSA (much lower sales tax… 5.5% in Wisconsin, 8.25% here in New York!) and then we proceeded to Spring Green. Our first stop was the House on the Rock, which is an architectural wonder of a house built around a 60-foot chimney rock. If that’s not enough, the owner collected anything and everything and just about anything you can think of is on the grounds at the House on the Rock! Google yourself over to their website. It’s quite interesting.

After a quick picnic lunch at a scenic rest area, we proceeded to Taliesin, the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect. Earl and I had visited Taliesin West when we were in Arizona this past spring, so we were anxious to compare it to Mr. Wright’s “summer home”. In fact, it was one of the principal reasons for this trip. We weren’t disappointed. We decided on the house tour, as we really wanted to see the inside of his house. When Earl and I build a house, we really want it to be in the Frank Lloyd Wright style… words can’t really describe it. Google yourself over to their site as well. It’s pretty cool.

We headed back to Janesville after supper at Chili’s and walking around one of the malls in Madison. We decided to call it any early night.

On Friday we were on the road again headed for Chicago. We stopped by Earl’s Aunt Olive’s house in St. Charles, but alas, no one was home. We were hoping to surprise them with a visit. So we proceeded to our hotel. We decided to stay at the Sheraton near O’Hare. I could do some plane spotting, plus it was very conveniently located in that we could jump on the train at O’Hare to go into the city.

We had dinner at the Webber Grill, as we both wanted to eat on the street. Plus, I really like the taste of grilled vegetables. The waiter was taken aback that I’m a vegetarian, but he muddled through it o.k. Afterwards, We went and saw “Mamma Mia”, the Broadway play based on songs by Abba. It was one of the better musicals I’ve seen. We both really enjoyed it.

On Saturday we took the train into Chicago and were a couple of tourists. We went to the aquarium and the planetarium, and then walked along Lake Shore Drive to the Navy Pier. Had dinner on the pier as well as did some sightseeing and then headed to Hancock Observatory at the top of the Hancock Tower to cap off our evening.

On Sunday we headed home by way of Michigan, across Canada from Port Huron to Niagara Falls and then along the N.Y. Thruway. We were originally going to stay in London, Ontario for the night, but we were really making good time, so we were able to make it all the way home before midnight. All told, we drove a little less than 2,000 miles.

All in all, it was a really enjoyable, relaxing trip. Honestly, I prefer driving over flying simply because I like to know what’s between here and there.

I’ve posted some pictures in the photo gallery.