Tag Archives: United States

I’ve Moved!

Click here for the same blog, exciting new address!

Anyone remember the Jeffersons? Sammy Davis, Jr.? Put them together and you get:

Nope, I’m not a published author yet, but after blogging on my own for two years, I celebrated my 70th post by pitching this blog to Chicago Now, which is Tribune Media Company’s online community of Chicago-area bloggers. I pitched RIDING THE WAVES via Chicago Now‘s online pitch form and heard back the same day. My blog was accepted!

So what does this mean?

It means I keep doing what I’m doing, but I might do it with a little more spring in my typing fingers. I’ll keep writing about RIDING THE WAVES, but now, I may have the chance to share it with even more readers. It means I’m sitting up a little straighter (which is great…I tend to slouch).

It means that Chicago Now believes my writing deserves a shot at something a little broader, a little wider-reaching.

It means I might get to connect with some new readers and possibly hear back from them.

These are all great things.

When I first began blogging in January 2010, I hadn’t a clue what to write about, so I searched for inspiration everywhere. In the process of doing so, I formed an unconscious habit of seeking inspiration; not only did that help me become a better writer, but it also grew me as a person. I’d ask people what motivated them to do inspiring things and investigate how certain situations came to be. I constantly pondered how I might incorporate many of the inspiring stories into my own life.

Some of my most “popular” (meaning “widely-read”) blog posts have ranged from my children’s entrepreneurial behaviors (How A 12-Year-Old Shags An iPad) to the suicide in a nearby park (Nichols Middle School Bomb) to the worry I felt when my husband and son sailed through the same storm on Lake Michigan that killed two fellow sailors (Trying Not To Cry) to an interview with a guy formerly known as Barry (How I Got To Interview The President Of The United States). Each of those posts serves as a distinct mile-marker on my newly-discovered writing journey. I’ll always remember how those events moved me so deeply that I couldn’t wait to write my feelings about them. Whether they made me laugh or cry or shake my head in disbelief, they each inspired me to sit, breathe, write and exhale.

Expanding my blog to a potentially wider audience on Chicago Now feels a little scary, but then so did talking to President Obama. What I’m telling myself as my blogging branches out is exactly what I told myself when the camera lights went on during the Obama Hangout: It’s just you & the person in front of you.

When I spoke with the President, I didn’t let myself think about anything other than the fact I was talking to a guy who used to live in Chicago. When I write my blog entries, I always try to write as if I’m talking to you directly…not to a slew of readers who may pass one of my posts on to someone else. The only way this works for me (and the way I keep my head fastened on tight) is to write with an honest focus, just to write what I’m thinking — as if I’m talking with a friend over coffee. It’s essentially a stream-of-conscience style, but that’s how my mind works. I’m pretty simple.

I hope you’ll visit my new site on Chicago Now and continue reading RIDING THE WAVES. And, if you’d like the latest posts delivered to your inbox, just put your email in the subscription box.

You’ve been with me from some of my earliest posts, and I’m grateful for the support, the comments and the encouragement. Thank you for RIDING THE WAVES along with me. This is getting pretty fun!

Click here for the same blog, exciting new address!


I Love You, But I Won’t Kayak to Japan To Prove It.

A MagiQuest Wand with a Dragon Topper

I’ve been a little consumed by my youngest son’s obsession with a place called MagiQuest.  We discovered it last summer during a trip to Great America.  Here’s Nate’s description:

It’s a kingdom where you have wands and you go around doing quests and missions or you can just go around MagiQuest getting lots of points and stuff.

My own description goes a little bit like this:

It’s a place where you enter and exit through an overpriced gift shop.  The time spent between the entrance and exit gets spent a) running around opening treasure chests with wands, b) using the restroom, and c) asking when we can leave (through the gift shop) to buy something.

On a recent day off of school, we took a trip to the city of Lombard, Illinois to check out another MagiQuest outlet.  Why would I even go back to such a delightfully expensive place?  If you have a child obsessed with something, you get it.  If you have more than one child and the obsession begins to degrade your family’s quality of life until such obsession is quelled, you and I are leading parallel lives.

Yorktown Mall in Lombard, Illinois, has it’s own MagiQuest location.  I steeled myself for another day with “the Magi” and requested backup in the form of my dear friend, Becca.  We took six kids for the day and I made this brief video of the experience:  click here for the video.

After all that fun, I’d hoped the MagiQuest phase would have run its course.

It did not.

Did you know, for instance, that you can hold a BIRTHDAY PARTY there?  Why yes you can.  And, did you know, there are MagiQuest locations across the country?  Why yes there are.  Pigeon Ford, Tennessee’s MagiQuest is a mere 10 hours and 13 minutes from our house.  Myrtle Beach and East Hanover, New Jersey are 16 hours and 13 hours, respectively.

The mother of all MagiQuest locations, though, has to be the one located in Tokyo Dome, Japan.  That’s the one, Nate pointed out, “with the bridges and the rooms and all the cool stuff.”

Well, I can’t let myself think of the unspeakable tragedy that occurred in Japan this week. Considering there was a massive 8.9 earthquake, a tsunami and the explosion of a nuclear reactor, I’m guessing that MagicQuest location might be temporarily closed. While I pointed this out to my son this morning, he was ever the optimist and still undeterred in his (Magi) quest to somehow get to Japan.

“Fine,” I said, sighing.  “Let’s plug in the directions and see how long it’ll take to get there.”  I entered our address, just as I had done for Pigeon Ford, Tennessee, for Myrtle Beach and for East Hanover.  This time, the travel total was 35 days and 17 hours.  Why?  Well, check out #22 on the directions provided:

8,798 mi (about 35 days 17 hours)
3. Take the ramp onto I-94 W 7.4 mi
4. Continue onto US-41 N/Skokie Hwy 25.6 mi
5. Take the ramp onto I-94 W 

Entering Wisconsin
33.8 mi
6. Take exit 316 on the left to merge onto I-43 S/I-894 W toward Madison/Fond Du Lac/I-894 Bypass 

Continue to follow I-894 W
9.5 mi
7. Take exit 1B on the left to merge onto I-94 W toward Madison 

Entering Minnesota
313 mi
8. Take exit 249 for I-694 N toward I-494 S 0.7 mi
9. Merge onto I-694 W 29.9 mi
10. Continue onto I-94 W 

Passing through North Dakota
Entering Montana
818 mi
11. Merge onto I-90 W 228 mi
12. Merge onto I-15 S 7.6 mi
13. Slight left at I-90 W 

Passing through Idaho
Entering Washington
579 mi
14. Take exit 10 to merge onto I-405 N toward Bellevue 3.5 mi
15. Take exit 14 to merge onto WA-520 W toward Seattle 6.0 mi
16. Take the Montlake Blvd exit 0.5 mi
17. Merge onto Montlake Blvd E 0.3 mi
18. Slight left at NE Pacific St 0.8 mi
19. Continue onto NE Northlake Way 0.1 mi
20. Turn left at 6th Ave NE 79 ft
21. Turn right at NE Northlake Way 1.0 mi
22. Kayak across the Pacific Ocean 

Entering Hawaii
2,756 mi
23. Continue straight 0.1 mi
24. Turn left at Kuilima Dr 0.5 mi
25. Take the 3rd right onto HI-83 W 12.4 mi
26. Continue straight onto HI-99 S/Kamehameha Hwy 6.5 mi
27. Slight left at HI-80 S/Kamehameha Hwy 

Continue to follow Kamehameha Hwy
2.1 mi
28. Take the Interstate H-2 S ramp to Honolulu 0.2 mi
29. Merge onto I-H-2 S 7.9 mi
30. Merge onto I-H-1 E 4.7 mi
31. Take exit 13B toward Halawa Hts. Stadium 0.3 mi
32. Merge onto I-H-201 E 4.1 mi
33. Merge onto I-H-1 E 4.1 mi
34. Take exit 23 for Punahou St toward Waikiki/Manoa 0.2 mi
35. Turn right at Punahou St 0.1 mi
36. Take the 1st right onto S Beretania St 0.1 mi
37. Take the 1st left onto Kalakaua Ave 1.9 mi
38. Kayak across the Pacific Ocean 

Entering Japan
3,879 mi
39. Turn left toward 県道275号線 0.4 mi
40. Turn left toward 県道275号線 358 ft
41. Turn left toward 県道275号線 0.2 mi
42. Turn right at 県 道275号線 0.1 mi
43. Turn left at 国 道125号線 499 ft
44. Turn right at 県 道24号線 0.6 mi
45. Turn left at 千 束町(交差点) onto 国道354号線 2.0 mi
46. Turn right at 中 村陸橋下(交差点) to stay on 国道354号線 1.0 mi
47. Take the ramp to 常磐自動車道 

Toll road
0.3 mi
48. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for 東京 and merge onto 常磐自動車道 

Toll road
23.8 mi
49. Take exit 三郷 JCT on the right toward 首都高・銀座・湾岸線 

Toll road
0.7 mi
50. Merge onto 首都高 速6号三郷線 

Toll road
5.8 mi
51. Take exit 小菅 JCT toward 湾岸線・銀座 

Toll road
0.3 mi
52. Merge onto 首都高 速中央環状線 

Toll road
0.4 mi
53. Take exit 堀切 JCT on the right toward 銀座 

Toll road
0.3 mi
54. Merge onto 首都高 速6号向島線 

Toll road
5.4 mi
55. Take exit 江戸橋 JCT on the right toward 神田橋・北池袋 

Toll road
0.4 mi
56. Merge onto 首都高 速都心環状線 

Toll road
2.4 mi
57. Take exit 三宅坂 JCT on the right toward 中央道・新宿 

Toll road
0.5 mi
58. Merge onto 首都高 速4号新宿線 

Toll road
2.9 mi
59. Take exit 首都高新 宿 on the right toward 新宿出口 

Partial toll road
0.5 mi
60. Turn left at 新 宿中央公園南(交差点) 266 ft
61. Turn left 0.1 mi
62. Turn left 0.1 mi
63. Turn left at 都 庁南(交差点) 

Destination will be on the left
0.2 mi

Unfortunately, we do not own a kayak.  Additionally,  I don’t read Japanese, so #39-63 might get a little dicey.