Jul 31, 2016

Summer Time

For the wider world this summer has been traumatic. Multiple terrorist attacks here in America and abroad, police shootings, police shot, a grim and disheartening presidential campaign, flooding in West Virginia.  The tragedies seemed to come so fast it was hard to keep up with them all. It seems callous to claim it was a good summer, when for so many this has been the very worst summer of their lives.  But for our little corner of the world, the summer was peaceful, uneventful, and memorable in a good way.  I'm grateful for that.

When we were kids summer seemed to last three years instead of three months.  Now it feels more like a month and change after you finally finish the interminable end of year "check out" tasks and before you're called back in on the 1st of August to start gearing up for the new school year.

This summer felt a little longer than usual--perhaps because we did so many different things--and I've identified three distinct parts of the 2016 summer season:

Summer at Home
Our school year ended for the first time before Memorial Day.  As a result even though it took longer than the allotted post week for Babs and I to finish our end-of-year tasks, I still felt like we had some significant time at home this summer. The weeks of early summer seemed to go by quickly at the time, though they feel longer now looking back.  This was the first summer since we moved to Ohio that both Babs and I were "home" for the summer.  In the early years, Barbara worked through the summer at the Stepping Stones preschool, while I was home with Elijah during the summer.  I was also working on my masters degree.  When I finished my masters degree, and Barbara shifted to being at home with our boys, I  began working at Kroger during the summers to shore up our income.  Finally, this year, with both of us working full-time as teachers we were both "free" for the summer.  You can imagine the let-down when I realized that there would be no real vacation with two energetic boys in the house.

So, much of the early summer was focused on keeping the boys occupied.  I was not as successful as I would have liked in keeping their screen time to a minimum.  It was oh so tempting to let them blow the day watching hours of cartoons on Netflix so I could get things done.  But I tried not to give in to that too often.  We might go to the park if it wasn't too hot or to the pool if it wasn't too cool.  I took them grocery shopping (which always resulting in me spending way too  much money, especially when I put Elijah in charge of planning the morning and afternoon snacks) or on other errands.  The day would go by so quickly. Any kind of running of errands would shoot the morning.  Afternoons would be quiet time, followed by a swim at the pool and then baths, supper and the day was winding up already!

One of our goals for this summer was to de-clutter our house.  We've been inspired by Marie Kondo's best-seller, the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  It was a gargantuan task, even in our little apartment, but we made some real progress. And at least so far Kondo's philosophy holds true.  Once you've decluttered an area it tends to stay that way.  The key seems to be to get rid of a lot of stuff, rather than just organizing it more neatly. In our house, a lot of clutter comes from having things we don't know what to do with.  By being more intentional and only holding on to things that we actually use and/or that "spark joy", tidying up becomes a snap.  Particularly remarkable is the boys room which has always been a disaster area of random pieces of plastic, orphaned puzzle pieces, and cheap toys.  Now that the room is de-cluttered, I can clean up even the biggest messes in their room in 5 or 10 minutes because I (and they) know where everything goes.
So that we could get some actual work done and be kid-free for a bit,  Barbara and I designated one day for each of us as an "away "day.  This was ostensibly a work day to focus on long-term planning and big picture strategy for the next school year.  I also hoped to use the time to start working on a book about  my experiences as a student missionary in Chuuk. I didn't do near as much work as I would have liked.  I did spend a lot of time toiling over an as-yet-unpublished blog on guns--my way of trying to understand the early summer tragedy in Orlando.  I spent hours researching, changing my position in the light of new data, researching some more. There will be a finished post forthcoming from those efforts.

On a morning walk early int the summer we came across a water main leak near our house.  Playing in the mud and splashing puddles = simple, classic summer fun.  It's funny  how these simple activities are what I remember most warmly.  Walking down to the leasing office to pick up a package, going down to the pool for a 20 minute swim before supper.  It didn't need to be a big event to be memorable. 

Dad's birthday is now a day for melancholy remembrance, rather than celebration.  Jenny came over from South Carolina for the weekend and we spent some time with Dad on his birthday.  It was our first time to see the headstone, which was put in this past spring.  I was so proud of Elijah for occupying his little brother on a nearby bench (see below)

Adrenaline junkies, Elijah (above) and Ezra (below) at the playground near the Leen house in Springboro.  We spent several long weekends with Gogah (the boys name for their grandmother).  Barbara did a lot of work going through our belongings that have collected in her mother's basement over the past 19 years--things we left there when we moved to Saipan, things we stored there when we came back from Saipan, and things from her childhood and youth.

Last summer Elijah received a pair of gift cards to Coldstone Creamery.  This summer we finally got around to using them.  Exploring the fountains near the Gahanna Coldstone was it's own little mini-adventure on two Sunday afternoons when we put those gift cards to use.

During one of our visits to Gogah's house I worked on cleaning the gutters.  Not the most pleasant work, but very rewarding when I was done.  Thought it is vacation, summer wouldn't be complete without some outdoor, manual labor.

Summer with Friends
Late June and early July was some really great friendship time.  We went out to Chicago and had a wonderful time with the Carlos family. On these visits, I would be happy to spend the whole time sitting on their couch shooting the breeze with J, and eating Evelyn's epic meals. But Barbara likes to get out and do, and this time I was game. Having just had an amazing trip to Chicago with my students there were some places and experiences I was eager to share with my family.  Our first day, we spent mostly hanging out at the Carlos home, but our second day we had a truly glorious time in downtown Chicago, visiting Maggie Daley Park, exploring Millenium Park, and then meeting up with my old friend from college Kim Juhl and her sons for supper at Lou Malnati's.

Our boys and one of J and Evelyn's boys on one of the giant slides at Maggie Daley Park in downtown Chicago, Thursday, June 23, 2016.

The splash fountains at Maggie Daley hit the spot after working up a sweat on the playground.

The oldest Maycock and Carlos boys. Hopefully they'll be friends for life just like their dads!
One of the massive slides at Maggie Daley Park.

"Two grown men in a huddle of kids" J and I's friendship, going all the way back to freshman year of high school always reminds me of the Rich Mullins song "What Susan Said."  When we were young men, student missionaries in Chuuk, I used to listen to the song and imagine the day when the second verse that describes the two friends as adults would come true.  Well now, we are in that second verse.  We're grown up now with kids of our own, "trying to help them to believe."  You can listen to the song here.
The Chicago skyline as seen from Maggie Daley Park

Crown Fountain at Millenium Park

The boys waiting for the face to "spit" at Crown Fountain

Our family with Kim and her boys after supper at Lou Malnati's.  I don't think we thought to take any pictures with the whole Carlos family.  We have pictures of our two boys and their two boys on Facebook, but the adults were neglected.  Even the picture earlier of J and I is thanks to Babs.  I'm terrible at remembering to take photos.

Back in Columbus we had a classic summer day by the pool with our new friends Jason and Veronica Francis and their kids.  On 4th of July weekend, we enjoyed Sabbath lunch with Ephraim and Bettina Laidley, and the Bailey family followed by a lovely hike in woods  near Slate Run Historical Farm.  The 4th of July the Francis family and the Ralph and Wayna Gray joined us for an evening of pie-making and haystacks and watching the fireworks.

Thursday, June 30, 2016. Elijah with his classmate, the daughter of Jason and Veronica Francis.  We invited the Francis family to go swimming at our complex's pool since we were unable to attend her birthday party earlier in the summer.  We ended up spending the whole afternoon there and became fast friends with the whole family!
Sabbath, July 2, 2016 at Slate Run Historical Farm.  Elijah and one of his long-time pals.  She'll be moving to New Jersey with her family at the end of the summer. 

I always have the most fascinating conversations with Ephraim Laidley. One of the smartest, most interesting people I know.

The Baileys.  We are going to miss this family so  much!
The Francis and Maycock kids having fun during the New Albany fireworks display, which we were able to watch from the parking lot of our apartment complex.  Monday, July 4, 2016

Summer with Family
The last third of our summer was devoted to family.  It was truly precious time.  We left Ohio on Thursday, July 7, spent the night in Greenville, South Carolina at Jenny's house before continuing on to Florida the next day. We planned to leave Florida, about two weeks later on Thursday, July 21, but as the time to leave approached, we decided to stay an extra day and leave on Friday.  Then the day before we were supposed to leave, we decided to stay an additional two days and leave on Sunday, July 24.  We ended up spending 17 days in Florida, including three weekends, and it was perfect.

The first week in Florida, Barbara was working on a class and was gone for most of each day.  I enjoyed hanging out with my sister and my mom, while the cousins played.  We cooked up some delicious international favorites, Korean food one night, Indian food another night.  We went swimming, went to the library, watched movies together.  I took Dawn out for lunch at an Indian restaurant (she had never been to Indian restaurant and I felt that needed to be fixed!), I enjoyed talking about science with Vince, watched a superhero flick with brother-in-law, Jim, and went shopping with Mom.  One of my favorite memories, is all of us sitting on the patio for sundown worship on our last Sabbath evening in Florida.  That feeling of family warmth and togetherness could never be captured in a photograph but is vivid in my minds eye.

 It was in Florida that I finally fully relaxed. I took several unplanned naps the last few days I was there, a sure sign that I had finally reached a point where my schedule was light and unhurried enough that I felt I could indulge in a little shut-eye without guilt or regret.
The older cousins

The younger cousins

Clowning around at Friday evening worship

Joy Lacorte is practically family.  We've known her for most of her life, since we moved to Saipan way back in 1998 when she was just 5 years old.  Since then she's been with us (and there for us) at some the highest and lowest moments of our lives.  She's a full-on adult now, working at Florida Hospital as a cardiac intensive care  nurse, and we were thrilled to have her come and spend some time with my family on Friday evening, July 12 and Sabbath July 13.

Sabbath, July 13, 2016. Babs and I with Joy and our dear friends from Saipan, Carol Paez and her daughter Keisha.  We hadn't seen Carol, who is one of Barbara's closest friends in two years, since she was last in Florida visiting her parents who live about an hour and half away from my family.  We last saw Keisha in 2012, the last time we visited the Paez family at their home in Oregon.  She's an officer in the Marine Corps, stationed in South Carolina and drove down to Florida for the weekend.  The Paez Tribe have long been family to us (Carol is godmother to our boys after all).  In addition my uncles and aunts and my youngest cousin also joined us for lunch that day.  My only regret is that, with so many people there, I didn't get to talk to Carol and Keisha more.

I could easily spend my entire time in Florida catching up with the many friends from high school who still live there.  But since I only see my mom and siblings once or twice a year (Christmas every other year), the priority is family.  I always make time to see my friends Paul Wood and Greg Wedel, and this summer it was an blast to also touch base with one of my favorite people, Heather Rice.  She and her three boys tagged along with us, Mom, Vince, Dawn and her kids on a day trip to New Symrna Beach.  Heather is awesome-- straight-up real talk and a big, open heart.  We'll have to do it again next summer, Heather!

Ezra got a hold of my phone during our last Friday evening meal with my family and took this pretty good photo.  Not bad for a three year old  

There aren't many pictures of my mom and me. I myself forgot to take any.  Fortunately my wife caught a couple snaps of us during our first weekend in Florida.  One of my favorite memories of our time this summer was sitting on the couch looking at houses on Zillow.  That was on the last Sabbath we were there, so this was another time we shared together though I can't remember what we were looking at on my phone.  There are no pictures of me with Vince or Dawn, which is a terrible oversight. I almost feel like flying back down to Florida some weekend just to take those photos!

Despite our extended time, it was hard to leave and I still feel a little melancholy.  I miss them.

I took this photo as we were pulling out of the driveway, on our way back home. It's one of my favorite photos despite the lack of clarity and windshield glare.  It makes me happy and sad at the same time every time I look at it. Happy, because of the wonderful time we shared together this summer, and sad because we are apart now and are reliant on our weekly  Sabbath afternoon Skype sessions until we can get together again.
We left Florida on Sunday morning, July 24, one week ago.  Again we stopped off at Jenny's house and had a pleasant evening with Jenny and Matt before continuing on to Ohio on Monday.  We went to Dayton and spent the night there.  Then on Tuesday, Babs and I went down to Cincinnati for a little overnight to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary.  That was a vacation of an entirely different sort--free from the kids for a little while and nothing pressing on our schedule.  It was wonderful to have nothing but time together.  We purposely planned little and were fully able to enjoy just being together.

Wednesday night, July 27, we drove home to Columbus, and our wonderful summer came to an end.  Even though I don't report to work until tomorrow, and Barbara isn't due back until August 8, it feels like the summer has officially ended.

I imagine that when we get to heaven, it will be like a summer that never ends. I can't wait for that day.

Jun 10, 2016

Starlight: Thoughts from the Far Orbit

Yesterday,  Beth Michaels passed away after a long, brave battle with cancer.

She was the editor of the Columbia Union Visitor.  She went to school with my wife; they were both on the gymnastics team together.  They were friends.  I did not know her well, and I'm sure she didn't know me.  We met once, at a friend's wedding 19 years ago.

And yet:

She inspired me.  She touched my life in a meaningful way.  And I'm genuinely sad that she's gone.  I realize that it would never have occurred to her that she might have impacted someone so far removed from those close to her.  And then it occurred to me that none of us have any idea of the distance our light travels.

We tend to think of the Great Ones, the Ali's.  The preachers and the Princes, and we know that these supernovas impact the whole world.  Everyone, it seems, knows of their lives, and mourns their deaths.  It's a common thing, these days to want to be famous.  And with Beth's passing, I've come to realize that we are all famous, we are all stars.  All of us touch the lives of people who are virtual strangers to us.   What's sobering is to realize that those in the far orbit don't really know us, and so it may be just one thing that we've said or done, one aspect of  what we do with these days God has given us that make up the only visible light in their far-flung orbit.  It's worth thinking about what it is they see, what kind of impact we make.

If I can shine like Beth did, I think I'll be doing pretty well.  Her incredible faith, courage, and sheer passion for life in the face of implacable death has inspired me.  I can't speak with authority.  I wasn't there.  But I can tell you what I saw from my distant orbit:  the light of a woman who was not dying.  She was living, right up to the end.

For those who knew and loved her well, a blazing sun has gone out.  Their entire solar system has been devastated with the loss of warmth, light, and life.  For me, a shining star has winked out, and every time I look at that patch of dark sky in my universe, I will miss her star.  And I'll look forward to the day when Beth, and all of us, will shine like stars in the summer night, forever.

May 30, 2016

Only Chicago

Two of my students looking taking in the spectacular sunset over the Chicago skyline. The Odyssey dinner cruise, Sunday, May 15, 2016.  Only Chicago offers this particular view.

One of my goals when I came to CAA was to gradually open the minds of my constituents  to what an 8th grade class trip could be. Most 8th grade trips range from a fun day or two at local theme park to a tour of Washington D.C.  I've always felt that 8th grade is the perfect age to take students on a  trip of a lifetime.  I articulated this vision in a blog entry not long after our somewhat controversial class trip to the Bahamas in 2011. Interestingly enough, this year's close-by destination met all my criteria mentioned in the blog post for an unforgettable 8th grade class trip.

And after several years of trips to awesome destinations from Canada to Hawaii to Puerto Rico, it appears I've succeeded.  The epic, exotic 8th grade class trip has come to be the expected norm rather than an oddity.  So when people asked me where my class was going this year, they seemed surprised and a little disappointed that we were only going to Chicago.

But here's the thing. Distance has nothing to do with the quality of the destination, particularly if you've never been there.  If you've spent your entire life two hours from Paris but never visited the city, your visit would be every bit as remarkable as someone visiting from across the Atlantic.  Only one of my students going on the trip had spent time in Chicago, so for most of them Chicago might as well have been Paris.

And Chicago is a truly amazing city.  It's one of my favorite places in the world, and though I've been there many times, I feel like I discovered it all over again on my most recent visit with my students.  Herewith some highlights from the trip that only Chicago could provide.

The Odyssey dinner cruise
Dining in style.  We lucked out and got window tables without paying the extra upgrade to guarantee a window-side table.

The boys and I on the top deck taking in the scenery

The city skyline early in the cruise (above) and later on (below) as the sun set.

Sunday evening, May 15, 2016, we had our first activity of the trip, a luxury dinner cruise on Lake Michigan, with stunning views of the Chicago skyline. It was a great way to kick off our trip.  The kids looked sharp and carried themselves with grace and maturity throughout the evening. One plus to choosing Chicago was that it was close enough to drive rather than fly.  The money we saved on airfare we were able to put into ensuring we had a premium experience.  We stayed in a mid-range hotel, Springhill Suites by Marriott, Downtown Chicago,  but right downtown where we had easy access to the sights, instead of paying less for a hotel in suburbs that would have required a lengthy commute every day to get into the city (and Chicago's traffic is not one of its selling points!).  We were also able to afford the most expensive cruise option, the Odyssey line, rather than the less formal (and less expensive) Spirit of Chicago or Mystic Blue lines).  This was the first class trip I've ever had in 17 years where I didn't worry about the money.  We had enough to meet our generous budget and then some.  While we could have had a similarly plush budget at any one of our fine Ohio cities, only Chicago was close enough to budget our money towards activities rather than travel and still  provide our students that new and exotic experience.

Two of our boys looking debonair, with our cruise ship, the Odyssey II in the background.

The Museum of Science and Industry
I didn't take any pictures, I don't think, while we were there, but I would describe it as COSI (our local science and industry museum) on steroids.  It was an absolutely fantastic experience from the Coal Mine interactive experience to the massive U-boat on display to the Mirror maze (which, incidentally was the site of our one and only mishap during the trip).  We purchased the City Pass for the trip which allowed us access to five top attractions in the city during our stay.  The Museum of Science and Industry was the first attraction we used with our City Pass.  As far as I know, only Chicago has a science museum of this caliber in this part of the country.

Willis Tower
Willis Tower: The view from the ground up

Chicago at dusk as seen from the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower

Willis Tower: The view from the sky down

Monday evening, after a supper of classic Chicago deep dish pizza at the famed Giordanos, we headed next door to the Willis Tower.  For me, it was a point of personal satisfaction to finally make it to the 103rd floor.  The last class trip to Chicago I attended was my own senior class trip way back in 1992.  I, along with three other classmates missed the Sears Tower, as it was then called.  We somehow failed to make our connection with the rest of the group, and ended up abandoned on the steps of the Field Museum for hours in the vain hope that someone would come and pick us up.  We finally realized no one was coming and hailed a cab to take us to the Tower, knowing that was the next stop on our itinerary.  We arrived just as the class was leaving the building.  24 years later, I finally made it to the top.  We got there in time for sunset and spectacular views of the city from dusk to nighttime.  Besides New York City, only Chicago has a building this tall in the Americas.
24 years later, here I am back on the steps of the Field Museum where my classmates and I were left behind, causing us to miss the Willis Tower.  It was a bit warmer than it was the last time I sat on those steps and the wait was much shorter.  I had one of my students snap this photo, as we were on our way to catch a train to Hinsdale, Illinois, Wednesday afternoon, May 18, 2016.

Architectural Paradise
On Tuesday morning, it was time to learn about the architectural treasures that only Chicago holds.  The main group took a boat tour of the city on the Chicago River.  (Ms. Pat led three students who had had their fill of boats after the dinner cruise on a horse-drawn carriage tour of the Gold Coast mansions.  Sadly, we found out after the fact that there was no tour guide for their tour, so it was mainly just a nice quiet ride).  On my senior class trip we also took a boat tour on the Chicago River and what I remember most about it was that we took a lot of pictures of ourselves on that tour.  For my group, I booked with SeaDog, an outfit that includes a speedboat ride on Lake Michigan along with the more sedate tour on the river.
Chicago skyline as seen from our speedboat on Lake Michigan, Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I wish I'd taken more photos of the buildings, but it was very cold and I didn't feel like taking off my gloves and fishing out my camera to take a lot of pictures.  I did get this strategically placed building as we entered the Chicago River.  The guy who built this clearly has a strong instinct for self-promotion.  Any guesses as to who it is? 

Waiting for the locks to fill with water from Lake Michigan before leaving the Chicago River at the end of the tour.  Lake Michigan is clean and is the source of the city's drinking water.  The Chicago River, according to our tour guide has been upgraded from horribly polluted to heavily polluted.  The locks are in place to keep the river water from getting in to the lake. 

On the boat.  You can tell it was pretty cold. Low 50's and windy, in keeping with the city's nickname.  I've just noticed that the same two students have been in almost all my photos.  I actually took 12 kids on the trip, not two. It's just coincidence that these two boys appeared in almost all the photos I picked for this entry.

I found the speedboat ride a little underwhelming.  The steady clip along the shoreline hardly got the adrenaline going.  There were no hard turns or spray splashing on us during the "ride." (Which was just as well, as it was bitterly cold).  The architectural tour on the other hand was fascinating.  Our tour guide was both knowledgeable and entertaining and I think even the students found the tour interesting, as we learned the interesting stories behind the many unique buildings we saw, and the history of this remarkable city.  I'm pretty sure my  eighth graders learned more, and took more pictures of the buildings (and less of themselves) then my classmates and I did as high school seniors.

Millenium Park and Maggie Daley Playground

Two (different!) students in front of "The Bean"

"The Bean" up close

Tuesday afternoon we had intended to go over to the Field Museum, but we lingered too long at Navy Pier after the boat tour and by the time we finally got going we realized we'd really have no time there.  So we went to Millennium Park instead.  We enjoyed the photo ops at the Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as "The Bean." but I think the real treat for the kids was the nearby Maggie Daley playground, an epic playground that only Chicago has.  This group has always simply loved to play, and after days of being mature, dignified, and calm (with the exception of the aforementioned Incident at the Museum of Science and Industry Mirror Maze), I think it was a relief to be freed to go wild for a bit and just do what kids love to do--play.

The Blue Man Group
I found  out after the fact that my students were dreading this portion of the trip.  They had looked up the Blue Man group on Youtube, and I guess the internet doesn't do it justice.  The show looked weird and boring they concluded.  They even went to my principal, Mrs. Arthurs, with their concerns, and I guess she opted to trust that I knew what I was doing.

It turned out to be the highlight of the trip.  The Blue Man Group is like nothing I have ever seen, and impossible to describe (or to capture on video, apparently).  The best I can say is that it was inventive, creative, unique, witty, and often down-right hilarious.  It is family-friendly for sure (though young children might be a little freaked out by the Blue Men who never smile or speak; I know some of the older children in my group were at first).  The show incorporates ingenious percussion, art created on the spot--and often given to audience members to keep, improv, a little bit of science and even a thought provoking look at the impact of technology on our society.  The show is heavily audience interactive, and throughout there was the feeling that literally anything could happen.  One special treat for us, was that one of our group members, Dynell Macklin, the mother of one of our students got randomly picked from the audience to be part of one their onstage bits.  She was fantastic, an absolute hit.  She got right into the spirit of the moment and handled all the unexpected, funny moments with aplomb and class.  Afterwards, I heard people were asking if she was really randomly chosen, or was an audience plant associated with the group.  She was that good! The show ended with a giddy dance party featuring massive inflatable balls bouncing around the theater (trust me, you had to be there).  We left the theater totally amped and talking about all the amazing things we'd just seen.

Some of my students and I,  along with some other theater-goers, and one of the Blue Men after the show.

I highly recommend going to see the Blue Man group if you get the chance.  We paid extra for premium seats near the front, but the venue was so small that anywhere in the house was a great seat.  Indeed I can't see a show like this working in a big arena.  The Group is based in only seven cities in the whole world (though they have gone on tour from time to time), and only Chicago has the Blue Man Group in this part of the country (Las Vegas, New York, Boston, and Orlando are the  only other U.S. venues).

Shedd Aquarium and Go Back Day
We only ended up using three of the five attractions on our City Pass--that was my one big disappointment from the trip (Surprise, surprise it wasn't the Incident as my students would likely have guessed.)  I still think we got our money's worth from the attractions we did see, but I really wanted to get in at least four.  We just didn't have enough time.  On Wednesday, we visited our third and final attraction on the City Pass, the Shedd Aquarium.  The kids spent much of their time at the Aquarium completing a 10 Fun Finds activity sheet that took them on a tour of the entire place.  The activity was part of their final exam for science class so they were quite diligent in completing it.

One of my students snaps a photo of a shark at the Shedd Aquarium, Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A sea lion at the aquatic show at the Shedd Aquarium.

A beautiful view of Lake Michigan from the aquatic show pool at the Shedd Aquarium

In the afternoon Mrs. Arthurs and the other chaperones took the kids on our standard Go Back Day round of events.  The last day of the class trip is Go Back Day when the students have the opportunity to go back to some of the places we visited that we couldn't get enough of the first time around. It's also a last chance for the group to do some shopping before we go back home.  Most of the group headed over to the Hershey Chocolate Factory near the Water Tower and then back down to Navy Pier. In the meantime, I, along with two of the boys who had been most centrally involved in Monday's Incident in the Mirror Maze , took a train out of the city to Hinsdale to pick up the shuttle.It was decided that missing out on the Go Back activities would be part of the consequences for their poor choices in the maze.

By 8:00 P.M. we had picked up our bags from the hotel and the group from Navy Pier and were on our way back home.  It had been an amazing, memorable experience that  could only  happen in Chicago.