Next door to his shop was an Italian bakery. Of course I couldn't resist checking it out. Mint chocolate cake and a cappuccino for a mid-morning snack? I think so!
Taylor snapped a few more pics of us...
And then we headed off to a local water park. The kids had never been on a diving board before and they thought it was so cool!
We went down the slides once or twice...
And then they evacuated the water park because storms were in the area. The ironic thing was they had been in a severe drought all summer. Much of the grass throughout Indiana and Illinois was yellow and almost like straw due to the lack of rain. Everyone had been talking about how terribly dry it had been, then the sky opened up as soon as we got settled in at the water park. I jokingly said the drought ended the second they swiped my Discover Card for the tickets (this place wasn't exactly cheap)!! I was actually feeling kind of sick about it - we are pretty frugal so to spend money on something like that was a splurge, and to be there only 20 minutes was a letdown. They weren't going to refund us, but thankfully Jimmy talked to the manager very politely and they gave us tickets to come back the next day. I felt much better after that, and prayed that the rain would hold off so we could use them!
That night we all had a family dinner out. It was neat seeing Jim surrounded by his kids, grandkids, and people he loves, and everyone went around the table giving him tributes which was very special.
Saturday morning we couldn't go straight to the water park because we had secret operations to attend to. Grandpa thought we were visiting with friends, but he didn't know our visiting also involved setting up tents and instruments and tables and everything else for his surprise birthday party on Sunday!
It was hot as blazes outside. Seriously, Florida has been cooler than Illinois for much of the summer! We worked outside and were just dripping with sweat, so that trip to the water park was definitely a relief! The sky looked a little ominous at first, but then it cleared up and we got to spend the afternoon sliding, diving, and cooling off.
Sunday morning we went to Jimmy's old church, then met up with Jim and everyone for lunch at Panera. Sunday was his actual 60th birthday, so we grabbed some photos with the birthday boy!
And a few more with each other, of course!
The kids did what kids do, and immediately made friends with the other kids at the party. It was hot as hot could be, and they ran around with sweaty heads and had a ball!
Jim had no idea that we had brought a van full of instruments along, including his old Ludwig drum set that Jimmy now uses. We had stashed these away before we ever pulled into his driveway. He also didn't know he would be playing his old drums again at the party! It was very special, especially considering these drums were made in Chicago - the date stamped inside is December 12, 1966.
So partway through the party, we made some music together!
Then Jimmy gave his dad an emotional and wonderful tribute that made his dad (and everyone else) cry.
Then it was time for cake!!
It was a great party filled with fun surprises. We were all admittedly exhausted afterwards, as you are when you do something like that with all the set up, take down, and emotional energy expended. (Not to mention the crazy heat!) However, we still had plans to load up in the morning and get on the road back to Florida. Our plans changed a bit unexpectedly, though. On the way home from the party, we kept smelling a burning smell. I was in denial at first - surely that was someone else's car or something outside - but when we got back to Grandpa's house there was no denying it. Something was definitely burning in our car! Granted, our van is seven years old with over 100,000 miles on it, so it is bound to have some troubles now and then. But we knew we better have this one checked out before we set out for a two day drive home. The men took it in to the shop early, and I went outside for one last glimpse of the backyard morning glory. I sure did enjoy that sight each day!
I assumed we would be on the road by lunchtime, but my hopes were too high. There was indeed something that needed replacing on our van, and we didn't get it back until dinnertime. We ended up taking it easy while we sat around and waited to hear from the mechanics, and yes, we did have just one more round of Portillo's. What we also had was a hilarious show put on by the kids!! They had a curtain and costumes and everything for this one, and we laughed so hard! I love these kind of kid moments, and remember doing this sort of thing myself as a child!
The next morning we got up super early for a long day on the road. We were heading through Nashville when Trevor exclaimed, "Look Mommy, it's Batman's cave!!" Turns out it was just a phone company building, but I took a photo for him anyway!
The kids were troopers again this time around...
We pressed on down the highway, but treated ourselves to a fun dinner at Truett's. It was so good we just had to stop again!
This was my dinner...field peas, fried okra, and those epic waffle fries, washed down with a bottled Coca-Cola. Southern comfort food right there! And every bite was hot and delicious as could be. I was so smitten with this place, Jimmy even surprised me with a souvenir mug!
The next morning we were up early as our car trouble delay had us behind a day and pushing to get back in time for youth group that night. We held off our lunch stop so we could see one of our graduates on the way home, though. So glad we were able to have this quick visit! We miss them when they move off to college...
We made it home just in time to unload our luggage and take our weary selves to youth group. After two long days of traveling we were exhausted and glad to be home, but thankful for all the memories made on the road, in Chicago, and celebrating Grandpa as he turned 60!! It was most definitely a family road trip to remember!