Janet and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to the Midwest over the holidays. We traveled to Chicago to begin the vacation and stay with Bob and Mary Stolper for a few days.
Bob and Mary were my good friends when we all attended Arizona State University in the early 1970s. Bob and I were both insurance majors in the ASU Business College and we were active together in the ASU Insurance Society. Mary was a music major at ASU. A click formed quickly--Bob and I joined with Roger Brown and Bill Huddleston, each a son of an active State Farm Insurance agent, to become fast friends. Upon graduation each started their career as State Farm Insurance Agents; Bob and Roger in Illinois, Bill and me in Arizona. Bob, Roger and Bill continue in this capacity today (Bill is actually a State Farm manager now). Mary is an accomplished flutist who plays with the Chicago Symphony and at other venues.
Bob and Mary live in Elmhurst about fifteen minutes from O'Hare airport. They have a beautiful home that includes an awesome guest room suite. We enjoyed a Greek dinner at a downtown Chicago restaurant a few hours after our arrival and Bob drove us on a quick tour of the city before we returned to Elmhurst for the evening.
The next morning we left for the Stolper's "log cabin" on Lake Michigan. We drove a short distance into Indiana to Dune Acres, turned toward the lake about two miles from the highway and pulled up to a beautiful mansion. The front yard was a beach on the water; the back yard was a wooded hill that extended into a forest.
The two-story five-bedroom home was originally built in the 1920s. Bob and Mary purchased the home in the 1980s for a pittance because the lake was at a historically high level and there was great concern that the property could be damaged by a swell during a large storm. A lot of work went into renovating and expanding the log structure and building a rock wall beneath the driveway that runs between the house and beach. It now stands as a luxurious manor with the lake at a normal level. It is a very valuable piece of real estate, and an ideal place for a getaway.
Roger Brown and his friend, Maryann, joined us that afternoon for a hike through the forest. Roger and I had a good reunion. Janet and Mary had a long conversation during our trek. The Stolper's dog, Boomer, had a great time exploring the woods, but was unable to stand that evening as a consequence. Roger and Maryann headed back to the city that evening. That night Bob, Mary, Janet and I watched a VCR movie and then sat around the fireplace sharing details of our lives until we were all too sleepy to continue.
Bob fixed us a great breakfast the next morning, then Janet and I said goodbye and headed toward Holland, Michigan, to see Stephanie and her clan. Our visit with the Stolpers was a good time for all and we hope they will come to San Diego soon and let us reciprocate the warm hospitality.
We stopped at Stephanie's workplace when we arrived in Holland. She gave us a map to her home and we went to the daycare center to pick up Jamison. It was so good to see her, our grandchild and husband Clinton. We assisted the kids in their effort to refurbish their new home, shopped for maternity clothes for Steph and watched Stuart Little II at least fifty times with Jamison.
My digital camera was on the fritz when we got to Holland, so we are waiting for film development and subsequent scanning before I can post photos. The bottom line for now is that the Rays are doing fine and we had a wonderful time.