Summer in Illinois 2008

Once again, the kids and I spent a couple of weeks in Illinois. They went a little something like this…

July 4th: After a nutritious lunch of 7-Eleven hot dogs and Slurpees in front of the store, we took a taxi to the Albany hotel where the airport shuttle takes off from. Hung out in the lobby for about 45 minutes, playing checkers as we waited for the shuttle to arrive. The shuttle trip took about 2 hours and was slightly cheaper than an Amtrak, especially considering we didn’t have to take the Max to the airport after we arrived. Took another shuttle to our hotel and hung out in the pool area for a couple hours. Took the Max to Skidmore Fountain, walked around a bunch for about an hour and then watched the fireworks display. Was lots of fun. Went back home (actually beat the huge crowd to the Max somehow and got on the first one) and to bed by midnight.

July 5th: Up at 5:30am to get ready to leave. Pretty uneventful flights. Watched a movie with Payton on the laptop for about 90 minutes of it. Read my book a lot. (Yet another Mark Twain biography) Hung out in Chicago’s airport for a nearly 2 hours for our layover. Ate at Johnny Rockets in the airport and it was an insane $40 for just 3 of us. Played on the pay phones for awhile. I was having the kids dial random things, like ANI numbers, and I noticed that they didn’t know you’re supposed to wait for the dial tone to start dialing. When I said they had to wait for the dial tone, they didn’t even know what that was. They’re so used to using cell phones. Got into Illinois at 5:15pm.

July 6th: Woke up and looked at my phone – 5:30am. So I tried to fall back asleep for awhile. Then I remembered that yesterday my phone hadn’t switched time zones yet, so I called Alton’s time and temperature number to find out it was actually 7:30am. Still too early, but I got up anyway. The kids and I rode bikes for awhile and stopped at Vanpreter Park. Ate lunch at Steak N Shake with everyone. Went to see Wall-E in Edwardsville, which was great. On the way there, I glanced at Walgreens and noticed that the 254-7111 pay phone was missing! Yet another casualty in the pay phone deaths of 2008. I’ll miss that one most of all. I wonder if the Vanpreter Park pay phones are gone yet. Tonight I went to a concert at Haskel Park. Emily found a huge, unfolded pocket knife in the playground area. 6″ blade, I think. Gotta love Alton…

July 7th: Went to my dentist at noon. After 2.5 years, I still don’t have a dentist in Oregon so I made an appointment with my old Illinois dentist while I was in town. Luckily I didn’t have any cavities since I probably wouldn’t be here long enough to make an appointment to come back. This evening I got to meet John Sever. Yes, the celebrity from the John Sever Fan Club. I was a little star struck, but I tried to play it cool as if I hung out with celebrities all the time. The kids and I went to his parents, ate, swam, caught up, etc. I hadn’t seen his dad in about 20 years and his mom in about 10 years. I traumatized John’s kids by forcing them into the pool against their will and he traumatized mine by hitting Emily in the face with a volleyball and picking up Payton by his ears. Good times…

July 9th: Left at 3:30pm to go to John Sever’s house (without my kids), which is about an 80 minute drive from me. Had tacos for supper there, then went ditch exploring! (You should click here to read about The Ditch.) His wife and kids explored one direction of the ditch with us, then we went back home. After the kids were in bed, we headed to the ditch again and eventually ended up exploring the tunnel side of it. By this time our shoes were soaked. It was approaching dusk and it was pitch black inside. We each had a tiny LED flashlight that put out just enough light to keep us from tripping over anything, but they didn’t give us any light into the distance. Just as we were about to turn around and go back, we saw a hint of light in the distance so we kept going and ended up underneath a manhole cover with open vents on the sides. I turned on my GPS and stuck it outside the vent to find out where we were, which ended up being a couple blocks from his house. John lifted the manhole cover and we climbed out. A car parked on the side of the road with its headlights on seemed to completely ignore us and eventually drove off. John replaced the cover to keep people from falling through and we walked back to his house. John’s account of this whole thing is much more detailed and hilarious. Read it here:

July 10th: Payton and I took a bike ride and ended up at the Icee stand. Patty was working and gave us free Icees and asked if I could come by their house and fix their computers. Said she’d give us free Icees for the rest of the week if I stopped by. So that’s cool, even though I hate fixing computers.

July 11th: Emily and I went for a ride this evening and ended up at Piasa Pantry (it’s a BP now) for some Slushies. Around 8:30ish I went to Mark and Patty’s to fix their wireless router issues. The kids came with me since they wanted to see the kids too. It took about an hour to get everything working. Now we have free Icees for the next week and they gave us some drive-in movie passes for some place in Belleville. I’ve never been to a drive-in movie before. Got to hear all kinds of gossip about my old neighbors.

July 12th: Got up around 9 and Payton and I went to get donuts. Went to Raging Rivers for the day, which ended up being a half day since it started storming and they closed the pool. We were all pretty exhausted anyway though. We were too lazy to hang around and ensure that they were closing so we could get free passes for next week.

July 13th: I’m a little sunburned today. It’s Payton’s birthday. We had a cake, tons of pizza and a pinata. And this evening we went to see Hancock at Eastgate.

July 15th: Got up at 7am and left for the City Museum by 9am. The City Museum was the same as always, which is unusual. Usually there’s always something new there. We stayed until they closed, though, and had fun. Emily ended up with a bunch of free Crusin’ USA games somehow (it just kept giving her free games) and was playing forever and me and Payton tried to convince her to come and do something else with us. Once when she protested, Payton replied, “Puh-lease, this game is so easy we could play it on paper!” I don’t know exactly what that means, but it sounded pretty awesome. He always says the weirdest things.

When we got home, my mom told me that Paige called and would be at a game in Vanpreter Park. So we went there and met up with Paige, Gary, Richard and Shirley. Oh, and Casey. Was nice to catch up with them all.

July 17th: Visited Wood River pool all day. Kids got busted several times for stopping on the waterslide so they would run into each other. I finished reading Fight Club, which was supposed to be my book to read on the plane ride home. Now I have to find something else to read. It was a good book and gave lots more detail than the movie, but I still like the movie better. I’m officially going to Defcon this year – I ordered my tickets today.

July 18th: Met John, Liz and their kids at the zoo today and spent all afternoon there. Went to their house afterwards, moved a couch and a giant TV. We didn’t do anything very destructive or crazy, just had fun with all the kids. (Well, I did redirect a sprinkler into a crowd of old people.) John and Liz, you guys are awesome. I hate myself for not getting together when we all actually lived in the same area.

July 19th: Time to go home. Got to the airport around 11am. I guess I shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to get there because check-in was super quick and so was the security checkpoint. We had nearly 2 hours to kill before our plane left. Our layover in Denver was another 2 full hours. Emily wheelchaired all over Denver airport until some airport guy yelled at her and took her wheelchair away. I kept trying to get her to greet passing wheelchair users with, “Hello, fellow cripple!” but she wouldn’t do it. Got into Portland around 7:30pm and into Albany at 10pm, all of us completely exhausted.

I spiced up the barf bags during one of our flights. The pictures are here:

The PLA Panel at HOPE happened on the 19th too. On our shuttle ride home from the airport, I sent text messages to murd0c and RTF, hoping that I would see them check their cell phones during the presentation on the video. murd0c called me last night and told me that the panel ran about 45 minutes late, so I guess my texting was in vain. He told me the crowd liked my Rickroll. I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but doing a Rick Astley parody was extremely painful for me because of how much I hate that song. I put it up on YouTube, though, so here it is:

Today I’m just recovering from the vacation. I slept in until 8am, which isn’t too bad considering it’s 10am Illinois time. Went to McDonald’s for McGriddles since there isn’t any food or milk in my house. Stopped by the post office and my mailbox at home. On the way to the post office, I passed by my old place and I noticed that my old neighbors have moved out. The ones that Warren lived with. This kind of sucks, because I liked living there and only moved because Warren’s friends kept stealing things from me. I should move back! But on the other hand, HAHA, they finally got kicked out!

I’m not sure what’s in store for the rest of my day, other than I’m hoping to go pick up my cat from the people who are watching him. I wonder if he still remembers me.

I’m too lazy to add accompanying pictures to this entry.


  • Wow, I did a bunch of stuff too. How amazing.

  • First I got up. Then I did some stuff. Then I brushed my teeth and did more stuff. After that, I ate a snow cone, and some cheerios. Then i drove around in my car to check out some stuff.

  • aw, we like you too brad.
    (sort of. not to excess) and we had
    alot of fun with you whilst you were in
    town! we’ll have to plan more capers
    the next time you come out our way!
    (i’m sure with more concentrated and
    careful planning, we could accomplish
    much. mwahhahahaha!)

  • How many payphones did ya’ll violate?! :) They probably removed them due to all the prank calls made from them.

  • You’re painful Rick Astley parody was hilarious! Isn’t Liz the coolest ever????

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