My Big Birthday Weekend

If getting three doses of the November novel in a row werenʼt clue enough (did anybody read it, like it?), now there was no post this morning at 5:05 AM, local time. Have you guessed? I will tell you: I have been offline and not at home since early Friday morning.

To celebrate my birthday The Lovely One had me book a room in Lake Geneva, WI (a tourist location that, as we discussed over the weekend, both of us probably first heard about thanks to the one-time Playboy Club opened there — now the Grand Geneva Resort, the one with skiing). Not exactly ironic or even funny, but the realization amused both of us. We had no definite plans, except to get away and relax. I guess it was ironic that I had to book and pay for my own birthday getaway, though.

Traditionally in the late fall, usually around my birthday, we had both taken days off work and headed to St. Charles, IL, but our recent visits had revealed that most of our favorite restaurants had closed (in particular Le Berry Bistro in Geneva), and the ones in St.Charles itself were really pretty boring (except for Dimitriʼs, which had closed one year but then reopened under its current name, Odyssey 2), and Janet had grown bored with the shopping (I had concluded a couple years back that we really should stay in Geneva, as St. Charles pretty much was the location we went from to other places). I think those trips started with a semi-fam-trip she arranged herself that put us both at Pheasant Run for a long weekend years and years ago, way back in the fabled Twentieth Century. And it seemed a pleasant place to imagine we might live someday, for no particular reason except that almost everywhere has that resonance when you live where we do. (Right now, I fantasize especially about moving to the Pacific Northwest; I would chose Portland, OR, but I think Janet prefers Seattle.)

The Cove (mostly Houlihanʼs in this view) from Center Street

We had last been in Lake Geneva about a decade ago, only as a desperate recourse when our tour-company trip to the Dominican Republic (a place to which we have never been… yet) fizzled after a two-day wait for a plane to arrive in OʼHare (the plane actually made national news, having stranded a group of tourists on a runway in Mexico for hours and hours and hours, and then never did leave — at least, waiting for that particular bird to reach Chicago, we were just stranded at the departure gate and did get to sleep in an airport hotel room at the companyʼs expense overnight). Once we decided to bail on the trip (which did finally leave in the afternoon of the third day) for a full refund and some financial compensation, I drove The disgruntled Lovely One to her sisterʼs first for some soul-sister soothing (not particularly effective in this instance), while we plotted our next move. Using her former travel agency (with whom we had booked the failed tour), we got a room for the rest of the week at Lake Genevaʼs The Cove Resort, reasonably priced, thanks to negotiative finagling by the agency (there are reasons not to book everything oneself online, even today). When we arrived (Janet still glum and moody), we even had a dinner coupon at the attached Houlihanʼs restaurant and a bottle of wine in our “suite.” It wasnʼt a great stay, as one of us never got over her disappointment, but it was relaxing. We had fun turning on the gas fireplace even in the heat of summer one or two nights, just for the pleasure of the flames. Our only real problem was me getting a city parking ticket during the last three hours of our very last day (which I dutifully paid by mail, by the way).

I selected Lake Geneva that time as we had stayed there once before, in a different hotel (right next door to The Cove, however) and passed through or stopped briefly a number of times previously. It seemed a place where things changed as much as they stayed the same from visit to visit. Restaurants in particular seem to have a noticeably short duration in that town (unless itʼs Popeyeʼs or Scuttlebuttʼs — both so long-lived itʼs ridiculous — or one of the eateries at the numerous resorts, none of the latter of which we have tried). After her miserable time in 2001, I didnʼt think we would ever return. But The Lovely One surprised me as she usually does.

We stayed again at The Cove, and it was okay again. The weekend was really quite chill, so that fireplace in this room got a workout. The Cove boasts “suites” (actually large rooms) that feature varying amounts of kitchen. This time we went for a “Commodore,” with “full” kitchen and an actual separated bedroom, mostly so we could eat in once or twice for our evening meal (and we did, once on Jimmy Johnʼs subs, our first night, and on take-out pizza from up the street Sunday evening, when we hoped to watch Tina Feyʼs Mark Twain Prize ceremony on TV — of which we missed half thanks to not receiving the Wisconsin Public Television station Janet had investigated online; The Cove seems to favor Chicago stations). Our big night out was Saturday, for my birthday, and she had booked us a table at Medusa (a warm but tiny place that only seats about 34 at a time), which turned out to be a wonderful decision (we recommend it very highly, folks). Her sister Diane and brother-in-law Steve came down for lunch and shopping on Sunday. We had a good time.

The only issue this visit was the surprise of a flat tire as I went out to load our luggage on Monday morning. However, I surprised myself by successfully dismounting the flat (another time on my truck I had found the lug nuts just about impossibly tight from air-wrenching in place at a shop), even though it had rusted pretty solidly in place, and mounting the doughnut spare. Luckily we had enough doubts about the flimsy spare to find a gas station where they fixed the flat for us before our return drive.

But now I am back, and I have thousands of unwritten words to make up for NaNoWriMo. Perhaps youʼll endure more vacation memories later.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.


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