I lived for four years in the Midwest while attending Anderson University. While there, I made priceless lifelong friends; a bunch of them were my bridesmaids, another officiated our wedding ceremony, and another was our photographer (Jen Best Photography…she’s awesome). Since graduating in 2000, though, I’ve pretty much sworn “I’ll never live in the Midwest again!” No mountains (sigh), no ocean, too conservative…blah, blah, blah…
Then along came Nathan, whose entire family lives in the Midwest, mostly Illinois (Normal/Bloomington area), with few exceptions. When we met, my heart was soundly bruised after years of Adventures in Dating. I waited for the “catch” for like 6 months, and then I met his family. Then I knew: he really was just…awesome.
Now we travel to Illinois a couple times a year, which suddenly…isn’t enough! We just returned from our most recent trip…which we kicked off at a Moe concert on the Riverfront in Peoria, IL with Ross, Nathan’s brother. Nathan’s been to 25 Moe shows, but it’s been 5 years since the last. He was so happy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile so much:
Notice the mannequin set up at the mic on the right? That guy was having a sick day, so his fellow band members made sure he was there in spirit. Hilarious. Moe shows draw hippies from far and wide. The hula hoopers had amazing stamina; it was like a four hour show, and they were going strong the whole time:
After the show, we drove straight to Lake Shelbyville, which is a development-free lake maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. Nathan’s parents, Dennis and Jamie, have a house near the lake where they spend weekends on their boat. There’s something about being on the water…
One day, it started POURING while we were out on the boat, and so we pulled into a cove, and made the most of it. Might as well just get in the water if we are going to be soaked anyway!
The only retail on the lake is a place called Skeeters, which serves stuff like deep fried jalepenos and frog legs. It’s surrounded by slips where regulars park their house boats, and has so much stinking charm:
Nathan and I rode there in style behind Pat and Debbie’s house boat:
But our nephew couldn’t be bothered to wake up. He must not have been excited about frog legs.
The Skeeters dock showcases some antique gas pumps. This is my favorite favorite image from the trip!
I’ve always had a restless, adventurous side that gets antsy for travel on a regular basis. The older I get, though, the more I understand that my peace of mind and contentment comes more from the relationships I maintain than where I am, what I’ve done, or where I have traveled. That was what made my college years in the Midwest so special: the weeks of time wasted doing nothing but playing frisbee or talking…laying on a blanket on the grass in “the Valley,” the midnight trips to the only open restaurant (Perkins!), and long conversations on the brown couch in our dorm room. Now, it’s true again of time spent in the Midwest. It may not have mountains, but it has this amazing family that loves each other, and now ME so very well. I am so blessed! How could I not love these guys?