Rock – Man – Sted – Ford

Days 5-7: Rockford, Illinois
Monday, June 20, 2016 – Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Long travel day in progress. We bid farewell to Margo and Kyle this morning, took a bus from Rockford to Chicago Midway, and now are on a 4+ hour flight to San Francisco. Once we land we’ll take the BART to downtown Oakland and get picked up by Amy’s cousin Mary, and spend a few nights with her and her husband Tim and their daughter Lily in Alameda, California.

[ed: final travel tally for today]

1) 20 minutes trailblazing from Stedman’s to the bus station, it pulled out 2 minutes after we hopped on.
2) 2.5 hours bus from Rockford to Midway Chicago Airport
3) 1.5 hour wait until plane
4) 4.5 hour plane ride
5) 1 hour 15 minute train ride on the BART to downtown Oakland
6) 15 minutes to Mary’s house in Alameda

Just over 10 hours of travel and a 2 hour time difference.

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We had a really great time with the Stedmans. I can’t believe they’ve been in Rockford for 4 years already. It’s clearly a great fit for them. Small enough to get to know people. Big enough to be diverse. Good jobs for both of them. Direct flights to Sanford via Allegiant. Seasons!! It’s really wonderful to be outside in the summer and be happy that you’re outside. And be able to sleep with the windows open and use minimal A/C even if it gets hot during the day. The opposite of Florida, obviously. You definitely forget how much later it stays light outside during the summer at more northern latitudes. Kyle and Margo have really embraced their city, as evidenced by everything from their knowledge of their 100 year old house and its former occupants, to the tour of some of their favorite places that they gave us the past two days:

  • Japanese gardens: beautiful, peaceful refuge
  • Art Deli: screen printing, local love, art, community
  • Rockford Roasting: locally roasted coffee, nitro tap
  • Library
  • Toad Hall: overflowing with used books, records, newspapers, magazines, and ephemera
  • Vali Produce: international food galore
  • An expansive antiques mall with just the right lock plates and door handles
  • Dari Fair: over-the-top ice cream and treats on a hot day

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Finds from Toad Hall, including a Chicago Sun-Times from my actual birthday that I randomly picked up, and other periodicals with very familiar conversations and themes. Sometimes it feels like nothing has changed.

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Rockford’s beautiful Anderson Japanese Gardens

The Rockford Art Deli, and a cool screen printed t-shirt designed by a local artist that I bought. Be nice to each other.

The Rockford Art Deli, and a cool screen printed t-shirt designed by a local artist that I bought. Be nice to each other.

We also had plenty of chill hangout time at the Stedmans’ big beautiful house; cooking food, including our first time trying sous vide steak; reading books – Amy read 4 books(!); taking naps; drinking coffee; and playing Super Mario Bros. I did some work as well for one of my freelance projects. Side note – one of my goals for this trip is to unsubscribe from as many emails as possible. So as they come in on a daily basis, instead of just deleting/archiving them, I’m taking the extra few seconds to unsubscribe. Hopefully it will help me hate email less 🙂

There are a ton of empty factories and buildings in Rockford, like many towns and cities across America after their various industries moved manufacturing overseas. In Rockford it was screws and other hardware (Rockford is also known as Screw City). The last time I passed through similar post-industrial places was on our cross-country bike trip in 2009, 7 years ago (woah). Despite all the emptiness Rockford seems to be doing well at redefining itself and slowly deciding what to do with the various buildings and properties.

Getting to hang out with the Stedmans makes us miss our Holden Heights community. We no longer live within a mile radius of each other and it is much harder to be a regular part of each other’s lives. But it was really great to reconnect over the last few days. Back home in Orlando, it makes us want to pick up with our friends who haven’t moved that far away, or have since returned and be more intentional about hanging out and doing life together.

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Thank you Charity, Jacob, Emily, Max, Claire, Kyle and Margo for a wonderful first week!