America 2019: Day Thirteen (Thursday 30 May)

There ain’t no trucks in Texas
Ain’t no football in the south
Ain’t no bourbon in Kentucky, I ain’t drinkin’ me some now
Ain’t no stars in California, Memphis never had the blues
Oh, there ain’t no trucks in Texas, and I ain’t missing you

                                                                                                                                        – Ronnie Dunn

Thursday 30 May

People back at home often ask why I keep coming back to Chicago. Days and nights like tonight are why.

We didn’t get home from the Sox game last night until nearly midnight, so it was a relaxing morning. I slept in, then went for a walk down the prairie path in the sunshine. It’s nice to see the weather turning for the better. The weekend looks pretty good, and after the biggest May rainfall in something like 145 years in the Chicagoland area, locals here are probably immensely glad that Mother Nature’s giving them a break. You can tell how much it’s rained recently: every field you pass by is waterlogged.

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For lunch, we went to downtown Wheaton and Shane’s Deli, which is a really nice spot that has become a favourite of mine over the years. As is tradition, we met Matt and Scott there, and Kat got to hear two of my favourite Scott Weller stories – the Best Kebab and the Wisconsin Uber – as we ate outside in the warm sunshine. Always a good time.

After lunch, we walked around Wheaton for a while as Scott did some errands and tried to pass Nathan, Kat and I off as his unpaid interns from Australia. When he headed back to work, we went on to the middle of Wheaton, and to the famous popcorn and candy shop. You can’t go to Wheaton and not get some popcorn.

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Our afternoon destination was the Premium Outlets to finish off our shopping. We got there after sitting at a level crossing in Wheaton for a good fifteen minutes – no exaggeration – whilst the world’s longest freight train passed by. Then it was full steam ahead to Aroura. My Nikes died a few days ago so I picked up a new pair for a very cheap price. Kat finished up buying stuff for people back home.

After dropping the shopping back at our Airbnb, we went to a field in Wheaton where Brooke (Matt’s eldest daughter) was playing softball. The team, ably coached by Matt and another friend of mine, Zeke, had a good day, winning big, and we got to see Brooke hit and pitch – she had a good night, clearly thanks to our presence! Nice to see Brian and Debbie again, and also Jaimie and Matt’s other kids.

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The view from Arrowhead’s deck.

When the softball game was over, we drove to Arrowhead, one of the public golf courses nearby, for a night of drinks and Australian-American hilarity with Matt and Zeke. I am hounded into not drinking Bud Light by the beer snob Matt, so I ended up trying all sorts of different beers, including one licensed by the rock band Metallica. Unfortunately – and you better believe Matt asked – they did not stock Fosters. (Thankfully!)

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Another late night home – after eleven-thirty.


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