The “Long Weekend”

The Holiday Inn Express in St. Charles

Happy birthday, to my brother, Stephen.

And now, back to our story from yesterday

Having booked a place to stay (with no thanks to the bid-your-own-price-for-a-room sites), The Lovely One and I packed our bag(s) — always two, one for clothing and one for, ah, toiletries and such (when I travel alone, as I will someday soon for training for the new job, the chimerical deity and the teabrained of Congress willing, I only need one). We got those bags and some supplies in the car and headed out of town, stopping for a convenience-store ʼcino (as we call those sugary, caffeinated beverages dispensed from nozzles — mine is invariably a combo: nine seconds of fat free vanilla, two or three seconds of English Toffee and a second or two of hot chocolate) and mailing a missive or two at the post office first. Slightly less than three hours brought us into St. Charles, Janet driving the whole way, the last forty minutes through increasing rain that wound up as sleety snow somewhere west of Wasco.

Townhouse Books, St. Charles. Support those small, independent booksellers — with or without attached restaurants!

She had hoped we would arrive in time for lunch at Townhouse Books, and we did, easily, dining on big sandwiches, vegetable chips and hearty clam chowder — all very good. We also enjoyed a white wine (much to my belovedʼs surprise, as I really do prefer reds). And the rain-with-snowfall had stopped by the time we went back outdoors to the car, intending to head off for the Holiday Inn Express and check in before doing some serious shopping (yeah, her plan). Even though we were more than an hour ahead of (what we would discover later was) the specified check-in time, the pleasant girl at the desk got us all squared away and keyed for room 222 (a smirking joke to ex-educators as old as I), and then we headed further east to the mall that contained Steinmart, World Express and (for me) Borders.

The Lovely One headed into Steinmart, and I strolled down to Borders, only to discover sadly (but opportunely) that this was one of the stores the corporation was closing under bankruptcy. Sad because I had found lots of exciting (and different) books here over the decades. Even though I do like both of the Borders nearest to home, north and south (Davenportʼs in particular), this St. Charles store had stocked items I never saw anywhere else. Opportune? Well, what was left in the nearly bare building was 60 to 80% reduced. And I found plenty at those prices, including Wolf Hall and Rushdieʼs newest, both in hardback first editions. Plentiful DVDs and other books as well. And I spent considerably more than I had imagined I might over this weekend. (Fortunately, except for food, that big book splurge was it for expended cashless.)

Janetʼs clothes examination (but not buying) extended, and I ended up making three visits into the Borders, each time acquiring more items (my first checkout lady had pointed out that I overlooked a whole section of books, uncategorized, brought in from an already closed store nearby), the third time with Janet along to check over the remaining DVDs.

Fioraʼs, but by night

We ate at Pi Pizza downtown (east side of the river) for dinner and remembered why we liked their pizza so much. The place was jammed on a Friday night (our usual visit had been on Sunday evening over a four-day weekend).

On Saturday we arose late to head over to Geneva where Janet is losing interest in the “Third Street Shops,” particularly now that Le Berry Bistro has closed, although a new crêperie has opened in its place. We met Diane and Steve for lunch (at Fioraʼs, which is quite nice). They headed off to their flea market, and Janet directed us to The Commons mall, followed eventually by a stop for Guinness at a pub downtown St. Charles. We all met to talk late afternoon and then headed out for dinner together at Odyssey Authentic Greek Restaurant (the in-laws had never had saganaki — Opaa!). We all selected different combinations (my invariable choice going Greek or Indian, I am afraid, so as to enjoy as many items as possible). The Naoussa went nicely with the meals.

Sunday took us to Charlestowne Mall — now almost completely empty and desolate, but Janet wanted to check Carson Pirie and Kohlʼs, which still hang on there. Then we drove to Geneva to give the new crêpe place in the Berry Building a try. Our verdict was positive, even if the owner only serves soft drinks. And then back home in time to do Sunday evening work to be ready for a week of breakfasts and lunches at our leisure.

A boring report on a quiet little long weekend. But at least I didnʼt complain about Qwest, eh?

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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