Who: Sandy, Jane, and Alice
What: Girl’s weekend
Where: Galena, Illinois
Why: Giggles, gossip, good times, a bit of the grape, and the occasional shot of whiskey (for medicinal purposes only).
When: November 8th–November 11, 2018
Galena is a charming old town that was once the largest steamboat hub on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri. It was the home of Ulysses S. Grant and eight other Civil War generals. Today, the city, on the banks of the Galena River, is a tourist destination known for its history, architecture, and resorts.
My friend Jane has lived there for over twenty years. Her Welsh husband Andy is the city’s chief engineer. He surely has many duties but to me, the most impressive is deciding when the floodgates are to be closed.
River rising? Andy saves the day by preventing a deluge.
In the spring Andy will retire. He and Jane plan to sell their 1830’s era house on the steepest street ever and move to Wales.
Sandy and I reasoned it might be some time before we see Jane again unless we visit Wales as we did for her wedding twenty-one years ago.
A group of American ladies descended on Llandudno, Wales, wearing our “country club casual” frocks. One Welsh guest dubbed us the “fancy ladies.”
This past May Sandy and I made plans to fly into Chicago O’Hare, meet there, then puddle jump to the Dubuque, Iowa airport.
O’Hare is crowded, teeming with harried passengers. No eye contact, no smiles.
Until you get into line with travelers to Dubuque!
The burly guy behind us wanted to know our story. The man across the aisle had us laughing. The lady in the mysterious black hat and dark glasses said something that made Sandy guffaw. Me, deaf as a post, didn’t hear it. I asked Sandy. She said, “I didn’t hear it either. But Black Hat laughed so I figured I should too.” In a few years, I won’t be the only one wearing hearing aids.
We flew in a small aircraft up for half an hour, then back down for half an hour, landing at the tiny Dubuque airport. Sandy commented the terminal looks like a library.
Jane met us, drove us over the hilly landscape, up her steep street, then onto her perpendicular driveway. We had to lug our suitcases along nine towering steps to get to the side door. She must have taken sympathy on us. She has never taken us to the side door before. Generally, Jane likes to torture Sandy and me by forcing us to trudge another long staircase to her front door.
Years ago, when I was actually in fairly good shape, the walk from town to Jane’s front door nearly killed me. I’ve been pretty sedentary for the last few years. Therefore, since our August move to a twenty-ninth floor condo, I’ve been preparing for the painful hike up her steep hill.
Each day I trudge from our twenty-ninth floor apartment up the stairs to the thirty-fourth floor. I stand at the top of the staircase, panting. Then I exit the stairwell and wait for the elevator to take me home to twenty-nine.
Yes, I should trudge the stairs back to twenty-nine. No, I don’t.
I was pretty proud of my stair-climbing routine until I learned our neighbor Mark–the overachiever–hikes up from one to twenty-nine and back down again twice a day.
Thursday evening we had an easy trek downhill to Main Street to eat dinner at Cannova’s Italian Restaurant. Gluten-free white pizza for me. Yum. So much for the low carb diet.
My big after dinner worry was trudging back up vertical Dodge Street. Fortunately, those daily trips to thirty-four paid off. I didn’t expire on the frozen pavement.
Thursday night, while we were sleeping, Jane had several Etsy sales. She has a very successful shop–GladysGlover.
During her years as an Etsy shop owner, she’s had over 3,000 sales. Including selling a brass corgi door knocker to Stephen King and ceramic knife rests to Sophia Vergara! Pretty neat to imagine author Stephen King reading Jane’s amusing descriptions of “miscellaneous fripperies”.
Friday morning Jane bundled her sold treasures for shipping and headed to the Post Office. It was a balmy 19 degrees in Galena. Why should Sandy and I get dressed, go out, and freeze? We were still in our PJ’s at three-thirty when, on an arctic blast, Jane blew in the front entry.
Other weekend adventures? Dinner at the historic Desoto House Hotel, a thrilling field trip to Piggly Wiggly, latte’s at Books a Million, candy at Barbara Jane’s chocolate shop, and dinner with a magic show at Amelia’s.
Our flights out were on Sunday. That morning we crossed the mighty Mississippi from Illinois to Iowa and dropped Sandy off for her 11 a.m. departure.
Then Jane and I drove to River Light’s, a charming independent bookstore. Low and behold it was their holiday open house. Food! Mimosa’s! Free gifts with purchase! I scored a box of tacky Christmas sweater notecards complete with dozens of ugly stickers for DIY designs.
After book shopping we crossed quiet Dubuque Main Street and had Mexican food for lunch. Chicken fajitas, me. Shrimp Enchilada, Jane. My flight was scheduled for late afternoon. I suggested she drop me at the airport and go on her merry way. Surely she’d had enough of me?
My thinking was I’d go through security, find a seat, and await my plane. In my experience security means shoes off, long lines, and rubber glove wearing TSA agents digging through the carry-on.
Here is what the Dubuque Airport looks like at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon.
Jane was kind enough to keep me company until security finally opened their gates. I made it through and was lucky enough to find an empty chair.
I pulled out paper and pen and spent the next hour happily doing the “morning pages” I had ignored for the past fun days. No one bothered me.
My flight landed at the Tampa airport at about 10:30 at night. Jim and Bronson were there to greet me. It was wonderful to have visited my buddies. And equally wonderful to see my little family again. Slept like a log in our 29th floor home, aka The Perch.