Thinking back to Wisconsin, I had wrapped up 4 meetings in one day. This meant I could move on and my dad had reached out to a childhood friend of his so that I would have a place to stay. This small recap is both for all the readers and for myself recalling some memories. -small note, my brother said he has read my blogs and found them enjoyable!
Getting into Illinois, it was just after 8:30 pm but the trip itself included some emotions. Those dang tolls! Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching! To provide some context, being from California we primarily have freeways. Hop on and go. Well, there may be some traffic, construction, crazy amounts of lanes, and fast driving, but it works. There are a few toll ways but those are rare occurrences for me. Going into the trip I knew there would be tolls, knowing there were some in the Midwest, and I heard there are many on the east as well.
Knowing and experiencing are two different things. The first 2 tolls I didn’t mind. It was the cumulative effect of more tolls, seeing that the cash price is twice the price of the pass, and having GPS act all weird as I had to deviate to the right to pay cash. Basically, it was a hassle and taking my money, two things I’m not fond of. That being said, I’m not completely ridiculous, I do think there is logic in those driving the roads to contribute towards them and so forth.
Getting back on track, I arrived at my Dad’s friend’s place just after 8:30 pm. I had met him a couple times in my life but it had been more than a few years since the last time and my memory had been faint. We quickly went off to his brother’s place who has a garage and patio fitness set up (@musclepatio) but first, we picked up a 12 pack of beer.
As we cracked open our beers (using the coolest bottle opener*) we got to chatting and had some good laughs. I did need to be mindful and had earlier told my dad’s friend that a few days prior I had committed to talking with a friend of a friend to be on part of his podcast. It is called Beer of the Day Podcast and it was for episode 76. Here is a link to the website Beer of the day Podcast. MusclePatio was a cool set up. There was a rig in the garage with a cool barbell rack system at the top so that it could store the bar without the likelihood of someone running into it. In a shed out back, he had other weights and equipment that he and others can move out to get work in.
It was time for the interview with Dallas, of Beer of the Day Podcast. He was a welcoming host and inquired about the journey. I shared some experiences with him and the reasoning for embarking on the journey in the first place. We discussed the idea of chatting more down the road, once I’ve visited more states. I encourage everyone to check it out. I also must offer thanks to my friend Teddy who helped to put us in touch (I owe Teddy an email as I write this, but will get on it!). These types of connections, and the help of others to spread word of the journey aids in giving me leverage and clout for the trip. It will be nice as more such instances occur during the trip so that ideally at one point I have gym owners and brewery owners reaching out to me. This would mean less cold calls and more efficient scheduling on my end.
After a few hours of fun topics, thinking topics, and all in between it was time to call it a night. The next day I worked on some scheduling and blogs for a few hours before getting hungry for lunch. My mom had mentioned a local bar in the town where I was near that had well-known burgers. This was a very small town where my parents grew up, and in fact, the night before my dad’s friend had shown me where their old houses were. A large aspect of going was knowing my mom would get a tickle of me going to a spot in their old small town. I went to the local spot and got a chuckle out of a table my dad had told me about earlier. It was basically the circle from an old high school basketball court. The burger was pretty good, the meat leads the way in texture and taste which was enjoyable. The name is Bristol Tap, for those curious as I would be.
I reached out to my cousin who prior to my travels had said I needed to reach out to him. I didn’t know if timing or location would work, but he was insistent. I felt a little bad as it was late notice, but such has been my pattern this trip. Not that I’m a fan of it, more so accepting. He did insist I reminded myself. We had seen each other a couple times when younger but it has been likely 15 or so years since the last time. I know plenty of people that are tight with cousins, but that hasn’t been my history. He replied I could stay and graciously added that he’d be grilling, there would be plenty of beer too so I needed to arrive hungry.
There hadn’t been a great response rate from emails for breweries so during a drive I found a smaller town and a brewery there. It was Werk Force Brewing, located within Chicago Brew Werks. I wandered around the store allowing my curiosity to lead my attention all around to the different things. I noticed some guys in the back by the brewery area and inquired about the owners. I was informed they were in process of preparing a new spot, completely focused on the brewery. He was kind enough to walk me over in their direction, seeing if they were still there. As we approached that side of the building, we saw Brandon and Amanda who looked exhausted.
They had been working all day in the hot and humid weather preparing the new location. This included spackling and insulation installation among other things. I told them my story and they said they were tired, but would have a beer and brat then could chat if I didn’t mind their fatigue. I not only appreciated their kindness to chat in such a tired state but also that a beer and brat was on the mind to recover.
They kindly offered up beer for me and I had two different samples of IPAs prior to a glass of stout. I heard about the importance of being involved in the community and care towards the community from everyone on the staff. They showed me the new location with their vision which looked nice. Before departing they gave me another brewery to check out and called them up for me so it’d be able to stop by in a day.
I did some more work at a library until heading to my cousins. Upon arriving, he had his arms wide open for a big hug and then it was a feeling of catch up mode, seeing how life has been. He introduced me to his family, got me a beer and we chatted as he prepped the grill. We had some polish sausages, beans, and fries. After hearing “help yourself, seriously there’s more”, I got seconds of course.
An additional surprise was he had called his sister, my other cousin and told her I was coming. It was great getting to see her and her daughter too. The rest of the night was full of good chats, and good times, although it was the second late night in a row. All worth it.
*coolest bottle opener is of course subjective. In this instance, it was a LiftNBrews bottle opener which I came up with and my brother helped me design and make. I not only like it, I think it’s cool.