Denver, Chicago and Home

It’s strange to write a blog post from my own kitchen table. The last one I wrote, I was sitting in a restaurant at the San Jose airport about 4:30 a.m.after Candice graciously dropped me off in the wee hours before sunrise. It was there I discovered I couldn’t post any more photographs as my Ipad memory was full (I added them to that post this morning) and it must be time to head east to reconnect my ipad to my laptop at home and delete my 5000 songs.

I was very engrossed in my writing, apparently, as I finished my last sentence, looked at my watch and gasped when I saw the time. My flight for Denver was boarding! Two hours later and one time zone east, I was thrilled to see my Southern Tier friend, Mary Kay, pulled up outside the airport to greet me. It was another beautiful, sunny day on the road as we drove away past onion fields ready to harvest with a view of the Rockies in the background.

Mary Kay is in a transition from selling her home to moving into her new townhouse. We stopped by her old house briefly before heading to her new digs. I caught the excitement as she showed me her new rooms, all freshly painted in colors from her purple kitchen to her “African room” upstairs. As she has the place updated with new fixtures and furnishings, she is camping out in the basement while the work is completed.

We headed south out of town to a Christmas shop to find a zebra ornament for her African room. It was there that we met up with Dawn, another Coloradan from our cycling trip. It was a festive place for a reunion!

Having found not only a zebra, but also a giraffe and an elephant ornament, we drove to Littleton for a little time poking around the shops. With 11/11/11 only a day away, and all of us in life transitions, we all bought the same journal to document and explore the next chapters of our lives. We wrote in each other’s books like high school yearbooks – ready to take on our next set of adventures. After a delicious Italian dinner, we headed out under the full moon to say goodbye to Dawn and drive back to Denver.

In the morning, the sky was still a clear blue and the views were just beautiful.

It was time to head back to the airport for the second flight in two days, this time to Chicago.

There was a sense of symmetry as I landed in O’Hare, back to a stop I had made early on in this trip. One of the things that surprised me on this adventure was that instead of checking places off my list of places to visit, I have found many places that I want to return to. Fortuitously, a friend from home was there on a business trip so I booked myself onto his flight so I could hitch a ride home from the airport in Connecticut.

That evening, he and his colleague took me out to a Chicago steak house for dinner. I wish I had brought my camera as the waiter brought out a huge platter of various steak samples to describe the different cuts and kinds of meat. With Chicago’s meat-packing history, I tried one more local food – a delicious steak. After dinner, we took the elevator up to the 96th floor of the John Hancock building for an incredible view of the city lights under the full moon. Lights stretched out in all directions in their midwestern grid of long straight roads.

In the morning, I was able to check off one more thing on the bucket list for Chicago – an architectural boat tour down the Chicago River. It was another sunny day but cooler so we bundled up with hats and gloves to sit on the upper deck of the tour boat. Chicago has a wide assortment of architectural styles from art deco to more contemporary buildings. The tour guide pointed out details and histories as we glided past Union Station (where I took the train 6 weeks before) and out to lake Michigan for a final view of the city.




Back at the airport for the last of 3 flights in 3 days, we boarded our little jet back to New England. It was dark as we drove north but we could still see the many branches and trees that had fallen down in the snowstorm a couple of weeks back. I was glad that the snow had melted as it’s challenge enough to be loading up the wood stove again after so many days in the warmth and sunshine of the west.

“Real life” is back for awhile as I sort through over 6 weeks of mail, do the laundry and resume the world of grocery stores, cooking and chores. It’s good to be home, though, to spend time catching up with my daughter at dinner, take a walk in the woods with a friend and enjoy the crisp, Vermont air. It’s all a little easier, making this transition, knowing that I will be back at the airport on January 20 for my next adventure – an around the world journey. If you have subscribed to this blog, you’ll get an email when I start blogging again. If not, check back in January. There are many more miles and stories ahead.

Leave a comment


  1. Phyllis

     /  November 14, 2011

    Hi Ellen,

    I have been following your adventures with appreciation, fascination (and perhaps a bit of jealousy!) What a blast!

    I am amazed at how you coordinated the southern tier people and other people from your past in your travels – how did you do that?

    I would love to see you before you leave for part two. Let me know when you are available. welcome back to the northeast.

    You are an inspiration!


  2. Debbie S

     /  November 14, 2011

    Welcome home to you. What a trip. Wish we could have made the connection work, but alas I am hopelessly bound up in the “life chores” and responsibilities for now. I hope to be freed up enough next summer to plan something fun. Have a wonderful time enjoying being home for the holidays. Debbie

  3. Connie G.

     /  November 15, 2011

    Ellen, So glad you’re home! I hope to actually see you in the near future.

  4. Laura Hahn

     /  November 16, 2011

    Ellen, I’ve been following your travels with interest and envy. You know how to get around! And so grand that you have friends all over the country. Was interested to read of your passing through Chicago again on your way home. Coincidentally I will be in Chicago this coming weekend with our soon to be 9-year-old granddaughter. We too have tickets for the Chicago Architecture Foundation tour on the Chicago River. The best to you for wonderful holidays upcoming. Laura


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