Driving the long haul from North Dakota to Florida for the winter – ND to home and my birthday!

(Birthday Card) May the frosting be with you!

What a journey this has been! I stopped counting how many states I’ve visited since I’ve been on the road. Most of my map is covered in stickers except for the east and west coast, and Colorado. Alaska and Hawaii are on my bucket list, too. It’s hard to believe how much driving has been done and how lucky I’ve been with the weather. Some of the drive has been kind of boring, but I took a lot of back roads this time and decided that the scenic drive is much more fun than on the main highways. Yes, it took longer, but I got to see some really cool things.
North Dakota to South Dakota, Minnesota to Wisconsin: I drove to Sioux Falls from Hillsboro because I just wanted to get that out of the way. Spent the night at a truck stop and headed to Wisconsin to visit family for a night. My uncle mentioned that the Northern Lights might be seen so we headed outside one night to watch the sky. Though we didn’t see the Lights, there was a meteor shower and my aunt and I saw a big fireball very low in the sky. We both yelled and my uncle was disappointed that he was looking in another direction, though he did see a bunch of shooting stars. It was a very nice evening.
Illinois (Chicago): I stayed with one of my sisters for a week and she made an awesome cheesecake with chocolate chips and caramel sauce for my birthday. I made my Risotto dish and we ate very well. We spent the evenings watching movies and it was so nice to cuddle up on a couch and watch a real TV. Ah, some of the things we take for granted… I also got to meet her new beau. How nice! My niece is away at college, but we said hi via phone calls. I was also introduced to “Bones or No Bones”, a TikTok post featuring a man from New York and his 13 year old pug named Noodle. Apparently, the dog will either stand up or flop down on his bed, and predictions for the day are made based on what Noodle does. It is hilarious!!!
I had to go to the city to visit my storage unit and decided that there was nothing else I could get rid of. I went to the office and asked the manager to give me a break on the rental cost, and he was very obliging. So I don’t have to worry too much about the price for now. I also had a dentist appointment and then went back to my sister’s. Another sister joined us for dinner at a cool burger place and was gracious to pay for our meals as a birthday gift. Aww! I also made plans to have dinner with my old neighbor and had a ticket for the Van Gogh Immersive Experience in the city. I said goodbye to my sister on Saturday and stopped at a friend for tea, then headed downtown for the exhibit. After finding a parking space at the Chicago History Museum, the Gogh was in an old building in the Gold Coast area. It was an spectacular experience, and the production was well done. The paintings came to life on the walls and floors of the various rooms, moving to the sound of music. I was in awe the whole time. The production was about 40 minutes, but you could stay and watch it again if you wanted to. Then there was the gift shop and I just bought a Starry Sky mask. Afterward I met my neighbor and we drove to Lincoln Park for Mexican food. I was pleasantly surprised and embarrassed when the waiters came to our table with cake and sang happy birthday to me. I tried to hide under the sombrero they put on my head, but everyone applauded and my neighbor was elated. He treated me to dinner and was very sweet! It was a good “bones” day!
Since I paid for my parking and was allowed to keep the van there overnight, I stealth camped in the parking lot. It wasn’t too bad, except for a tree branch that kept hitting the top of my van during the night, preventing me from a sound sleep. In the morning, I took off and said goodbye to Chicago for the foreseeable future.

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