America 2022 – Day Fourteen

It’s two tickets to a concert
It’s a Daytona airbrush T-shirt
Wondering who’s gonna kiss you first
You know what I’m talking about

Hey, baby, what you doing tonight?
It’s butterflies and Bud Lights
Under the stars and on the stripes
Of a beach towel in a Spring Break town

It’s playing in the night air
Through the speakers all night long
Couple kids just livin’
That American country love song

– Jake Owen

Tuesday 30 August

Woke up and went out for a 5km walk around Wheaton. We are near Wheaton College, which has plenty of paths and a lot of beautiful buildings. A warm and sunny start to the day. Thankfully, the weather looks good for the next week or so, but not anywhere near as hot as it was in Boise.

Because we were late in yesterday, we didn’t have a chance to go shopping, so we went to Starbucks in downtown Wheaton for breakfast before heading over to Brian and Debbie’s house. Brian had a golf game already set before we made plans for lunch today, so we’ll see him in a few days, but it was lovely to see Debbie again. Lovely to see Jamie as well. She came around with Connor (who has grown a lot since I last saw him in 2019) and Nolan, who wasn’t even born then.

For lunch, we drove out to the nearby suburb of Bollingbrook, to a small airfield there that is mostly used for pilot training, and also houses some vintage planes. There’s also a nice restaurant, sitting right on the runway, so you can watch the planes as they take off and land. There wasn’t a tonne of activity, but we saw a few take-offs whilst we ate lunch, smaller planes like Cessnas and the like. You could tell which ones were learners, because their take-offs weren’t exactly smooth. Lots of side-to-side movement as they got airborne. Connor and Nolan thought it was all pretty cool.

After lunch we walked up to one of the hangers where there were some older planes, Vietnam- and World War Two-era machines, and even some dating back to the First World War. It’s pretty incredible to see how far aviation has come in the last hundred or so years.

After lunch, we left Jamie, Debbie and the kids and went home via a Mariano’s grocery store to pick up a few things, particularly cereal, milk and juice for breakfast. Then it was over to Mike’s where we met up with a bunch of other guys – Scott, Will, Bryan, Chris – and caravanned down to Guaranteed Rate Field for the White Sox game against Kansas City. We met another Mike there at the field.

Since 2015, I haven’t seen the Sox lose a game. 6-0 including two fairly improbable wins the last time I was in Chicago in 2019. That’s a pretty enviable record, as the franchise was not at all good during that stretch. In fact, they were downright terrible. Just my luck that the two years when they were really good – 2020 and 2021 – I wasn’t allowed out of Australia to watch them. A strange choice, hiring manager Tony La Russa (in his 70’s!) out of retirement has seen the team regress a tonne this year and last, and everyone warned me that my streak didn’t stand a chance against Tony.

When we heard whilst tailgating before the game that La Russa was going to miss the game due to an undisclosed medical issue, I thought there was a glimmer of hope. Alas, the Kansas City Royals led the entire game, and although the Sox made it interesting with a couple of late home runs, it wasn’t our night, and we left the Rate with a 9-7 win. So the streak is over, but at least the Cubs also lost, and it was a fun night with a lot of good guys. A definite highlight of the trip.

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