Our saga begins on a warm, balmy Saturday as two cars leave my parent’s house in Omaha, Nebraska. We’re heading for Chicago. One of the guys in our group, Grant, actually lives in Chicago, so the rest of the group (Shiloh, George, and Jamon) were going to stay with him. I, however, was going up to visit my friend Ruth. I hadn’t seen Ruth in several months, now that she’d graduated and worked in Chicago. I figured now would be the perfect time to see her.
Our trip across the great state of Iowa was uneventful and as we drew near to Chicago, our little group split up. Grant, George, Shiloh, and Jamon went one way, and I went another, with the plan being to meet up on Monday and head down to Bushnell together. That was when the nightmare began.
I second-guessed Ruth’s direction. Maybe second-guessed is the wrong term. However you say it, I screwed up. Royally. To make a long story short, I ended up traversing Chicago from one end to another, for 4 hours. I saw every inch of Chicago, except for the inch I needed to be at. Needless to say, when I finally did arrive on Ruth’s doorstep, I was bedraggled and frustrated. If I’d had the energy, I would’ve given Ruth the biggest bearhug when I finally did see her.
I’ve come to several conclusions after my “ordeal.” First of all, I will never ever second-guess directions again. Second of all, Chicago is way too big. There should be a law against making cities that big. They could at least make sure that the street names stayed the same. Third, Chicago residents can not give directions to save their life. Finally, tollways should be outlawed. By the time we finally got out of Chicago, all of my spare change was gone.
That being said, I had a pretty good time in Chicago. On Sunday, we went to the beach on a nice overcast day. Later that night, we went to see Ida at Schuba’s. I’d heard great things about Ida’s live show, and it lived up to the reports. Ida’s music is beautiful, existing somewhere between Low, Over The Rhine, and Velour 100, and the band had a great stage presence. Unfortunately, towards the end of the show, I was so tired that I started nodding off. That’s when the fun started.
We left Schuba’s, only to find out that it was pouring rain. We ran back to the train station and got on, nice and wet. Instead of waiting for a bus, we tried to hail a cab. The first one refused to let us in because we were wet. I’m not sure, but I think that’s a violation of the “cabbie code.” After all, I’m sure water is the least vile of substances that’ve been left on his backseat. We finally found a cab that wasn’t so discriminating and arrived at Ruth’s apartment late that night in a considerably poor condition.
Monday rolled around and we said our goodbyes. I hooked up with the other guys (remember them?) and we headed down to our Mecca of Mecca’s, Bushnell, Illinois. Now the fun began. We arrived in Bushnell in the early afternoon, just in time for the heatwave. Earlier, the trip had been gorgeous. Listening to Ida while traversing open fields under slightly cloudy skies is one of those moments you wish you could frame.
My biggest fear arriving at Cornerstone would be that we’d be unable to find any of our friends. However, God already had that all taken care of. We headed towards the spot we were going to try and snag, and who should come out of the campsites but Nolan, with Tricia (a girl I’d met last year) right behind? After exchanging hugs and greetings, I look over and see more of my friends (Heather, Becky, Audrey, and Jenn). We set up camp, and discover more people I know in the campsite next to us. Later on, friends of my friends would arrive, and we soon had a thriving community representing Nebraska.
Unfortunately, all of the excitement had a toll on me. We ran into town and I began to feel a little queasy from the heat. Thankfully, it passed, and was the only time I was seriously affected by the weather. Anyways, the day wrapped up with me sleeping outside, surrounded by my friends and days of great promise and opportunity looming ahead of me.