Chicago and the Wild Women of Ho Chunk

We returned to Chicago and planned to spend almost a month to accomplish doc appointments AND to attend Chet’s first NBA Game. As luck would have it, OKC was opening the season in Chicago.

The check-in process at Illinois Beach State Park was far more complicated than it should have been. After Sept. 30, according to the website, there is no longer a limit of 14 days – perfect for our plans.  Also according to the State of Illinois’s website, after Sept 30 MANY sites are no longer reservable, including the sites we prefer…FIRST COME FIRST SERVE.  They have a very weird process…you drive through and find a spot, but you are NOT ALLOWED to park on it…you have to come back up to book it – meanwhile someone else might be doing the same thing for the same spot (since you made no indication you wanted it).

Fortunately during the week and after the end of summer, not too many folks cruising for camping! Anyway, there are about a dozen 50a spots and only a couple were occupied, so I went back up front to book and pay for one of them. When I asked about the particular spots, the clerk said, “Do you have a Reservation?” I said, “According to the website, these are FCFS???” She said they extended the reservation season (but apparently couldn’t be bothered to update the website, which would not allow me to MAKE a res.) .  She also disclosed that the State, without warning, had decided they needed to do emergency tree maintenance, so they were having to move campers around.

Wild Lake Michigan

I didn’t want to give her a hard time, because the guy before me had been yelling at her for 15 minutes, and she was clearly at the end of her rope with all of it. I thought I would try a nicer strategy. I gave her the dates we wanted, and I said, If its available, we would LOVE site #361. She spent a few minutes buried in her computer, then said, “How about Site 361!” I said PERFECT, paid for it and we went to park, before the State decided to change its mind about its availability.

While we were at Illinois Beach, there was a WILD wind and rain storm. The lake was whipped up into a frenzy for several days.

And speaking of “Frenzy,” Liz had organized a reunion of her college roommates. Over the summer, she had individually descended on several, and the decision was made to have a more complete reunion at a central location. A date was picked after much discussion, and THE MOST CENTRAL LOCATION was determined to be…the Ho Chunk Casino in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

(Hmmm…the first time I typed that, it came out “Barfaboo” – Freudian?).

So, when the appointed day came, we disconnected the bus from Site #361, but left the car and 2 chairs there, so the State would not think we were gone and put the site back in the Reservation pool.

We had just parked at Ho Chunk, when the security guard came over. He said, “You are not planning to park overnight,, are you?” Now, the parking lot is HUGE and we were in no way occupying any spots that would otherwise be necessary. He said, since the Casino now has an RV park, they don’t allow Dry-camping Overnight. AFTER I disclosed (posited, assured, promised) that the wild women were planning to drop some serious coin inside, he said, “I GOT YOU, don’t worry.” “Just take a couple walks. Go in one door, come out another after a bit. That way we (you and I) can say you are coming outside to rest a bit…”

So we did!!

The reunion must have gone rather well – the Casino is still standing AND one of Liz’s roommates invited the collective to Eagle River next summer for more!


…its pretty easy to tell the difference!


While parked at Illinois Beach, I noticed a “weird” puddle in the area of the previously repaired Black Water tank. Weird because it was NOT black water (its pretty easy to tell the difference!)! I noticed it when Liz was rinsing out her running clothes in the bathroom sink – when she opened the stopper, a LOT of water splashed on the ground! I started to investigate – the drain from that sink is not visible, but you can reach up an put a hand on it. I thought I felt a crack, so I got out my boroscope camera, and sure enough there was a spiral crack around the drain. CLEARLY the damage caused by the tire guy’s inappropriate Jack Location earlier in the year had caused this hidden damage. NOW WHAT???

The crack was in the PIPE, not the fitting in the top of the black tank, so THAT was good, at least. It was also good that it was the SINK…so only fresh-ish water was leaking…but it still needed to be fixed. When I said I could get a hand on the pipe, that is ALL I could get on it. Not two hands. Not a tool of any kind. What I eventually did was create some “noodles” out of Marine Epoxy, which I could apply with the one hand, completely encircling the pipe and sealing the crack. The repair seems to have been effective…at least no more puddles have been noticed.

Safe, Cracked!

And, Speaking of “Cracked” we have been thinking about how to open the Bluebird’s safe since we acquired it. The Safe is in a hidden spot, and we wanted to remove it and install a more fireproof option — the thinking being we don’t really have valuables or firearms onboard, but would like documents etc. to survive a conflagration. In order to remove the safe, though, we have to open it!

Jim Williams, from whom we acquired the bus (formerly the property of his father), was pretty sure there was nothing in the safe at all; we committed him that IF there was anything in the safe we would return it.  The first safe cracker said that in his experience, the MOST he has ever found was a bent paper clip and broken rubber band! Well, after a couple of locksmith attempts, we finally managed this.

A la Geraldo, unfortunately. There WAS a rubber band AND a paper clip; the stack of bills and bearer bonds these collected together having been long since removed. I have now installed a Fireproof Bag in place of the safe.

Just Random Fans

After nearly a month in Illinois, Finally the culmination of our visit came to pass…Chet’s first Basketball Game, which by fortuitous chance happened to be in Chicago. My sister, leveraging connection with the Bulls and the Thunder, managed to orchestrate 31 tickets (11 of them longtime friends of ours). All of these were located quite close to the floor – I would actually say, 1% close!!! Almost Spike Lee and Jack Nicholsen Close!!

Chicago Fans

Since I sort of knew the local geography, I recommended a Hotel with easy access to both O’hare and the Tristate Tollway. I also organized two dinner banquets for the collected Chet-heads.

The basketball stuff I will talk about later…we attended a BUNCH of games in the last few weeks, and plan to attend a bunch more this season. Suffice to say, Chet’s game is FIRE!!! And he is being talked about in Rookie-of-the-Year conversations. But more on that, later.

Dad Hugs for Chet

The Chicago trip was memorable for everyone involved. It started with the Hotel’s Power being off for a couple of hours when folks arrived. Then there was the whole “Close to the airport” thing….

Chet’s dad, David, was kind enough to offer rides to/from the hotel for many of the folks arriving. (His new nickname is “D-Uber.”). Which was pretty convenient mostly…but not so much for the one person who, unbeknownst to any of us, organized their flight into MIDWAY. If you are not familiar with Chicago, I guess, you might not realize that is the “Other” airport, and is a 1 hour drive with NO traffic from O’Hare and the “convenient-to-O’hare” hotel I had recommended. And of course, there is NEVER “no” traffic.

Poor David!

Transportation logistics aside, the restaurants more-or-less delivered an adequate gustatory experience. I had picked Giordanos for the Chicago Pizza Experience (even though several folks – even ones who had NOT chosen to fly to Midway) ordered THIN CRUST. Greek Islands was selected because of Valet Parking and easy access to the United Center, and it delivered on both plus some more-than-passable comestibles!!!

1% Secret Jumbotron

Once in the United Center, we noticed there is a “Secret” Jumbotron. Who knew that there was ANOTHER JUMBOTRON inside the Normal Jumbotron. It is only visible to the first 10 rows or so, so I call it the “1% Jumbotron.” We have since discovered such 1% Jumbotrons in ALL of the other arenas.

After the game in Chicago, we departed (more or less like a bat out of hell) for points south and west. Our plan was to attend more games – several in OKC and a couple on the west coast. A LONG way to drive with diesel at $4+/gal, but friends and experiences worth more than money and common sense.

More on that, next post.

4 thoughts on “Chicago and the Wild Women of Ho Chunk

  • Hi Dan and Liz.
    Thanks for the update. We are following Chet’s amazing career. Congratulations to Chet and all of his family. You could be following him around the country for many years to come. Our grandson Alex Carson who was a star player with Dalhousie University has not played since university and is now employed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Diane is well and I have developed Colon cancer about a 18 months ago. I am on chemo every two weeks and feeling fine at present. Hope the chemo keeps on working for me.
    Stay well, safe travels and Happy Thanksgiving.
    Jim and Diane Farquharson

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