Last year I rode to Chicago on Labor Day weekend. Didn’t check the weather (should have). Just grabbed some gear and went (Lily and Cohen were with their mom). As it turns out, I should’ve grabbed my rain suit
because there was a pretty nasty storm barreling through Indiana and I got stuck at a run-down diner for 5 hours.
This place was a former truck stop with no gas pumps and a now-defunct convenience store. But they did manage to have a fully-stocked pie case.
I talked to the truckers and the waitress, and watched the lightning dance across the sky. At closing time, I put my soggy jacket back on and rode 15 miles to the nearest town. Pulled in to the only hotel and its completely full parking lot around midnight. Evidently, there’s a huge blueberry festival/hot air balloon convention every Labor Day weekend in that part of Indiana that brings in 100,000 people. The balloonists were all at this hotel, and they informed me it was full. And so was every other hotel for 60 miles. Great. Tired, soggy, and cold, I was about to just sleep next to my bike. One of the front desk clerks came out and announced to the crowd of 50 hot air balloon pilots (who were all fairly drunk) and me that they had a cancellation. “I’ll take it!” I yelled before she was even done talking. Found out 30 seconds later that it was a king, smoking, suite. And it smelled pretty bad, despite the dryer sheets taped to the fan in the room. Oh well.
I made it to Chicago the next morning. The previous day could have ruined the whole trip. Cold, wet, tired, in the middle of nowhere rather than with my sister, Sarah, her boyfriend, Mike, and my brother, Adam & his girlfriend, Crystine (who were in Chicago for the weekend). Sometimes, good stories are no fun to live through. But the bad weather made me appreciate the lovely day in Chicago even more.
One thing I’ve come to understand over the past few years is that life just is. We try to control so many things, but really only have control over ourselves. And even then, not always. There are a few other things we can influence, but that list is usually smaller than our egos will admit. Things come together, then they fall apart. Then they come together again. Like sitting on a park bench in Chicago with my siblings and their significant others. No plans, just hanging out, talking, and enjoying the 24 hours we got to spend together.
P.S. There’s actually a book called “When Things Fall Apart” that I found very interesting.