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9/23 thru 11/3/2016 - THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!

You won't enjoy reading this post unless you are as happy as I am that the CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!  It's almost a month later and I'm still a little numb from the whole month of October and, oh yeah, those couple of games we played in November.

This post is a little disjointed (and very long) because so much happened last month and into November.  I did my best to remember and tried to get it all in order but the most important thing is that THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!! (I'll never get tired of saying that)

We were in the Chicago area from Thursday, 9/22 until Sunday, November 6th.  We had to change campgrounds a few times since there is a 14 day limit in the two Kane County Forest Preserve Campgrounds and they closed on 10/31.  We discovered that Cook County Forest Preserve has a few campgrounds and we made reservations for the Camp Reinberg Campground in Palatine to cover the first week of November if we needed to stay - AND WE DID BECAUSE THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!  (yes, I'm still pretty excited).

Before we checked into our first campground we stopped at General RV in Huntley and had them look at our slide-out.  Our slide-out wouldn't slide in all the way and needed to be fixed.  General RV looked at it, called our insurance company to make sure they would cover it and then ordered the parts.  We'll go back there when the parts come in.


While in Elgin, we took a drive downtown to visit with Marty's sister, Amie, our niece Emily, her fiancee Chris, and our nephew Andrew. As you can see in the background all of Chicago is going crazy for the Cubs this year.
Marty, Andrew, Chris, Emily and Mary outside the John Hancock

Sarah on top of the rock wall at Paul Woolf
Hiking the trails

We were in the Paul Woolf Campground in Elgin from 9/22 thru 10/4. This is our favorite Chicago area campground because it's very convenient to family and it's not to hard to get into Chicago from there.  It's also close to the Metra so I was able to take the train in and visit my friends at St. William - the students that were in 3rd grade when I left are now in 7th grade.  Pretty soon I won't know any of the kids there - that will be a sad day for me. 

Sarah and Sue came to visit us at Paul Woolf and we hiked the trail and Sarah climbed the rock wall.  It's not a real rock wall, it's made out of fiberglass but she still had fun.  It's so much fun hanging out with Sarah, she is really into baseball.  She reminds me so much of me and my sisters at that age - good memories!  Her favorite player is Anthony Rizzo, I think every Cubs shirt she wears has his number on it. 

"Clark" the Cubs Mascot

I went to the last two regular season Cubs Games against the St. Louis Cardinals; one with Sue and one with Jeanne.  They lost the Saturday game but won the Sunday game.  The best part of the Sunday game were the SEVEN standing ovations David Ross received.  Every game from this point forward could be his last game in Wrigley Field and he is very much a fan favorite (and the players all love him too).


Our first post-season series was against the San Francisco Giants and we won that in four games.  We sold our tickets for that series to help defray some of the costs for next years tickets.  It's hard not to go but we've been lucky enough to go to other National League Division Series and we really were holding out for the World Series (still had our fingers crossed).


Marty, Mary, Donna, Rick, Sarah, Mark + Maddie and Charlie

Sarah "Believes"

We left Paul Woolf Campground on Tuesday, 10/4 and drove about an hour south to the other Kane County Forest Preserve Campground in Big Rock.  We stayed there until Tuesday, 10/18.  Rick, Donna and Mark decided to take advantage of the Columbus Day weekend and come camp by us in their pop-up.  It was fun having neighbors we know and Sue and Sarah (actually both Sarahs) stopped by.  Aunt Donna was nice enough to volunteer to drive Sarah back home so she even got to spend the night with us and work on a very special craft project
Aunt Donna and Sarah

Camping is fun but it's nice living in a 5th Wheel so that you can watch the baseball games.  Unfortunately, we don't have "premier" channels and had to watch it on the computer via my brother-in-laws slingbox (thanks Don!).  The first night we listened to it on the radio around the campfire (Cubs won)  but the second night we used the computer and that was the 13 inning game that started late.  Rick and Donna left our rig with the Cubs down 3-5 going into the 9th and then Donna came back when she heard me yell when Kris Bryant tied it with a home-run.  Sadly, they lost that game against the Giants in the 13th.  It's all ok though because THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!

Even Sue was able to watch the game with us via Facetime

Beatles Camp Group at Camp Wonderland
Marty had his annual "Beatles Camp" the weekend of the 14th - 16th so on Friday he dropped me off at Judy's and went up near Lake Geneva to catch up with his friends from the Old Town School of Folk Music.  I stayed at Judy's so that I could be there for Saturday's 1st birthday party for her granddaughter, Annaliese.  The party was "Halloween" themed with costumes optional so quite a few of us came as Cubs fans. The first game of our next series against the Los Angeles Dodgers also happened to be that night so Judy was never going to get rid of us.

After Annaliese's party ended (around 3:00), Sarah Beth asked me to take her to Goodwill to help her find a Halloween costume.  We asked Sarah Marie to drive and off we went.  Little did I know this was a ploy to get me out of the house - when we came back the party decorations for the one year old were gone and decorations for an old person (that would be me) were up.  They used the signs from Don's 50th party and just added "+10" - very funny!  It was a lot of fun and Joe even made me an icebox cake!  I loved watching the Cubs game with my family (even the Sox fans) and the best part of the evening was they won!
IceBox Cake - a Merkes (Hoos) family tradition!

I'm surprised this Sox fan didn't choke eating a Cubs cupcake

And it Did!
Sue, Mary, Emily and Matt

For the NLCS we also planned to sell our tickets but just couldn't do it. Sue and I really wanted to go to Game 6, it could be the game that would put us into the World Series!!  The 6th game was on Saturday, October 22nd and Sue and I drove down with her grandson Matt and his girlfriend, Emily. Matt and Emily wanted to be in Wrigleyville for all the fun.


We left the suburbs around 1:00 (for a 7:00 game) and made incredible time getting to the city.  Our first stop after parking in the remote parking was visiting Graceland Cemetery so we could pay our respects to Mr. Cub - Ernie Banks.  He was one of my favorite players growing up and he was always so upbeat about the Cubs. He died in January of 2015 still waiting to see them play in the World Series - so sad for him and all the others (especially Mom and Amy) who didn't make it.

Mr. Cub, what a special person. 
After leaving Graceland we walked down Clark Street to find somewhere to eat.  It was around 4:00 and Wrigleyville was jumping.  Most places we stopped in had lines to get it but an Oyster bar had lots of room.  After checking that they also had regular food (like hamburgers) we went in and ate dinner and killed a little time before the ballpark opened.

We left Matt and Emily outside Wrigley and told them to text us after the game so we could all meet up. Then it was in to Wrigley Field for Game Six of the National League Conference Series.  This was a 7 game series and we were up 3 games to 2 so ALL we needed to do was beat their BEST pitcher and we'd be in the WORLD SERIES!!

My favorite bleacher bum

Before the game started I texted my friend, Colleen, to see if she could come over to the grandstands and say hi.  She's part of a group that has season tickets and they always sit in centerfield under the scoreboard. Bleacher fans can come over to the grandstands but we can't go over to the bleachers. It was so nice to see her and share the excitement of this special night.

Kyle Hendricks was our pitcher and he is phenomenal when he pitches at Wrigley.  We also had Wrigley Field as loud as it could be - Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers said on TV that he wasn't worried about the noise at Wrigley because we had already been as loud as we could get, it couldn't get any louder. WRONG!  That was a big mistake on his part because we really rocked Wrigley that night.  Every time their pitcher threw a pitch all you could hear was "KERSHAW, KERSHAW" (or as I was saying, CURSE OFF!).

This game was almost anticlimatic.  We were never behind and the Dodgers didn't play their best.  Sue and I (and our seat neighbors, Rachel and Jeremy) kept looking at each other and saying it's happening, it's really happening! 

After lots of hugs and screams and a rousing rendition of "Go Cubs Go", we just stayed in the park and soaked it all in.  Our seats are three rows from the top so we climbed up to the top row to look at the scene outside of the ballpark which was wall to wall people celebrating.   It was the best experience I've ever had at Wrigley and I can't imagine anything to top it - Oh, wait, WE ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!

This was our view of Addison and Sheffield from inside the ballpark about 45 minutes after the game ended
We stayed in the ballpark for about 1 1/2 hours, made our way down as close as we could get to the field and then left to find Matt and Emily.   We finally made it back to Sue's house around 2:00 in the morning - exhausted but what a great experience.


We're Going to the WORLD SERIES!!
We had tickets to three world series games.  Sue, Jeanne and I could each go to one game with the person of our choice.  Jeanne chose her husband, Jim (what a good wife).  Sue and I chose each other so that we could each go to two games (sorry Marty and Earl).  Jeanne wanted game 2 and my dream has always been to go to the first World Series game at Wrigley Field in my lifetime so that was easy.  Sue and I would also go to Game 5.  Then we decided to offer Jeanne Game 5 in case that was the clinching game (that's just how nice we are).  We also decided to sell Game 4 since that would cover the cost of our whole season ticket package for next year.  Game 4 was the worst game of the series so it was the right decision.

Before the game we walked down towards the field and were this close to Javy Baez!

Being at the first World Series Game was surreal!  From Wayne Messmer singing the National Anthem to Billy Williams throwing out the first pitch to Bill Murray leading us during the 7th inning stretch - it was all incredible!  Too bad they lost, but I truly never stop believing that they would come back.


Amy would have loved this season!
The day of game 7 was grueling because, after 22 years, we're back in court for Amy's murder.  It's a long story but the punks that killed her think they have cause to re-open the case and her friend, Jackie, who now lives in Washington was flown in by the State to corroborate her original testimony.  The court time was supposed to be at 10:00 but it didn't start until 3:00 and her testimony lasted an hour.  Poor Jackie!  Luckily her husband flew in with her for support.  As hard as it was for her, they are Cubs fans and got to stop by Wrigley Field on their way to court.
Jackie and Jacob added Amy's name to the Wrigley Field Wall

A few siblings got back together at Judy's house to watch the 7th game.  Sarah Beth even got to stay up late and come over and watch it with us (she would never have been able to sleep anyway).

I had read a post on a Cubs fan page on FB not to give up, that we had already beaten Cleveland's  Game 5 starter and that in game 6 we had Jake Arrietta going and he had already beaten them in our only win.  If it went to a game 7 all the momentum would be ours.  That post helped me keep the faith and I knew this game could be won.

Marty and I were still in the car when Dexter Fowler started the game with a home run. We finally got to Judy's in the bottom of the first.  Everyone stayed at Judy's until the rain delay and then we all decided to leave and watch the end at home. It was getting late and my sisters had to work the next day and rain delays can last a long time.  Crazily, this rain delay was very short (just long enough for Jason Heyward to give his little pep talk) and we were in the car when the game re-started and we were still in the car when they pulled ahead by two.  Oh, no - this can't be happening, I want to see it when they win!  OMG, we pull into the campground and the gate is locked and it's the bottom of the 10th!  A locked gate is not stopping me, I climbed over it and ran (yes, ran) to the rig as fast as possible (not very).  The campground guard came out and unlocked the gate so Marty and I both were in the rig when THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!  Tears flowed, it was very emotional but I've waited my whole life for this moment and I think the tears were more for all those who didn't live to see this day.


We are very glad we stayed in Illinois because once the World Series ended it was time for the celebration to begin.  The parade was on Friday, 11/4 and we had reservations at the campground until Sunday, 11/6 - excellent scheduling! Of course if the parade had been on Monday we would have left on Tuesday - the joy of being a full-time rv'er. 

We ended up with quite a large group for the parade.  It was Marty and I, Sue and her grandchildren-Matthew, Sarah and Derek, our niece Jenni and her two kids- Abby and Danny, Donna, and Judy and Don. We all met in a Target parking lot in the NW suburbs at 5:30 A.M. and left two cars and took the two that would hold us all.  We were downtown by 7:00 and found a parking lot for only $11.00 very close to the parade route - YAY!  We then walked over to Michigan Avenue and scored the best possible location, between the barricades put up by the city and the fenced in flower beds.  It was about 36 inches deep so there wasn't room for people to get in and crowd us (although they did try).  We did let Marty's sister, Amie, and Don's friend Dave into our excellent viewing area.

What do you do when you're missing a sister?  You fake it!

Cubs Win!!

Officers Friendly

Photo-bombed by one of Chicago's finest


Sue and Derek (can you tell that he's not crazy about cameras?)

The parade was amazing, I think I screamed and cheered more there than at some of the games.  We ran over to Walgreens and bought the kids posterboard so that they could make a sign.  The highlight of the whole day was when Anthony Rizzo's bus passed us and he saw the sign, pointed to it, and touched his heart - Sarah was in tears and for the rest of the day we couldn't talk about it or she'd start crying again.  (I hope she's not reading this).
He loved their poster!

What a Guy!
Thank you Cubs for an amazing season!


Ben Zobrist liked our sign too

After the parade we drove over to Wrigley Field to take some pictures and write our names in  chalk on the brick wall.  Unfortunately about an hour earlier they had fenced it all off so all we could do was take pictures of the marquee that said "WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS".

Very tired but very happy - what a great day!

Love that "W"
It was quite a long day and getting late so we drove back to the NW suburbs, found a pizza place and had a relaxing dinner with some very tired adults (the kids all took naps in the car).

That's it - baseball season is over and THE CUBS ARE THE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!!

Today is 11/23 and we've spent the whole month of November traveling to some pretty nice areas but y'all (that's a hint) are going to have to wait a week or so before I do my next post.  We will be in Mesa, Arizona starting on December 1st and will be there until the end of March so that we can take in some WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS baseball.  (it's so much fun saying that)


Mr. Bones didn't make it but WE DID!

Even babies go bananas for the Cubs

These pigs have been retired

We never stopped believing

Sue raising the "W" flag at her school - so cool!!

9-12 through 9/22/2016 - Go Cubs Go!

 Today is Sunday, November 13th and we are already on our way back to the southwest.  I have fallen way behind on this blog so here's a post about our trip from Washington to Chicago.  The very exciting October/November post (Go Cubs!) will be worked on soon.  

Monday and Tuesday (9/12 and 9/13)
One last stop at the Pacific before heading east
We left Forks, Washington on a beautiful sunny day and started our trip back to the Midwest.  Our plan was to be back by 9/23 so that I could watch the Cubs play the Cardinals in their last home game of the regular season.  Our first night on the road was spent in Ellensburg, WA, we had only planned to spend one night but there was an interesting wind farm tour so we ended up staying two.  We also wanted to check out the town of Roslyn (site of the old TV show "Northern Exposure", one of my favorites).

We were up bright and early to drive over to the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility for a 10:00 tour.  Ellensburg is one of the windiest spots in Washington and the tour was pretty interesting, we even got to go inside a turbine.
Hard hats and safety glasses are required!
It was a beautiful day for our tour

After leaving the wind farm we took a drive over to Roslyn to see the sights and to check out the local museum.  We got there around noon but the museum wasn't scheduled to open until 1:00 so we grabbed a bite to eat.  When we went back the museum still wasn't open due to "volunteers schedule".  I think they need better volunteers.   Oh well, it gives us something to look forward to the next time we find ourselves in that area.
From the TV show "Northern Exposure" - one of my favorites
We drove back to the rig to hang out for a few hours before making our way back to the wind farm for some sunset pictures.  If the skies are clear you can see three mountains to the west.

That's Mt. Ranier in the background
Wednesday, 9/14

Our next stop after leaving Ellensburg was Palouse, Washington.  It was an easy drive which was good because our GPS cord broke and the app on my IPad wouldn't work so we had to go "Old-School" and use our atlas.

We were settled in to our next campground by 1:00 and took a quick drive thru main street to the post office (when we left Forks we took our keys with us - OOPS!).  This is a very small town and, unfortunately for us, nothing was open except for the post office.  The museum is only open Thursday-Sunday and the antique store was also closed.

Since we couldn't shop or visit the museum we took a drive to Kamiak Butte.  Here's the information I copied from the internet:

Kamiak Butte rises 3,641 feet and offers 298 acres for hiking, picnicking, camping, and sightseeing. The area boasts over 130 species of birds, 170 species of plants, and nearly 30 species of mammals for wildlife viewing. A favorite spot for photography, a hike to the crest offers spectacular panoramic views of the rolling hills of the Palouse with the patchwork of fields and farmlands changing with the seasons.
The Palouse Reqion from Kamiak Butte

Thursday, 9/15

Our plan for this night was to drive as far as Butte, Montana and spend the night at Walmart. This was a very good day because we stopped for gas and lunch at a station with a casino attached and I put 10.00 in and won 67.00! Free camping, lunch and some gas - Cha-Ching!!


Friday, 9/16 and Saturday, 9/17

We continued our drive back to the Midwest on 90 and stopped in the very tiny town of Ranchester, Wyoming.  This is a town that is on Highway 14 (the same 14 that runs into Chicago).  We were about three hours east of Yellowstone.

On Saturday morning we walked over to the Visitor Center  to pick up some information and then walked across the street to the Farmers Market to pick up a few goodies.

The visitors center had recommended a drive to Medicine Wheel so off we went.  The drive was beautiful and we even found an antique shop to visit.  Our drive to Medicine Wheel took about 2-3 hours (we possibly went the wrong way at one point).

Marty and I visiting this spot may, possibly, be the reason the Cubs would go on to win the World Series.  This is a sacred Native American site and if you leave something there that is precious to you and say a prayer your prayer will come true.  It also helps if there is another tourist there who explains this to you and happens to have a baggie with tobacco in it to sprinkle on to your item which will make your prayers even more powerful.  
My precious item?  My "Believe" bracelet which I hadn't planned to take off until they won the World Series.  I was very sad to leave it but at that point I was willing to do anything to get the Cubs into the World Series - You're Welcome!

I should have had my Cubs shirt on but look at my matching socks!

My "Believe" bracelet - didn't have a string to tie it with so we left it under a rock

Here's some information from the internet about Medicine Wheel:

On top of the Bighorn Range in Wyoming, a desolate 9,642 feet high and only reachable during the warm summer months, lies an ancient Native American construction -- an 80' diameter wheel-like pattern made of stones. At the center of the circle is a doughnut-shaped pile of stones, a cairn, connected to the rim by 28 spoke-like lines of stones. Six more stone cairns are arranged around the circle, most large enough to hold a sitting human. The central cairn is about 12 feet in diameter and 2' high. 

The wheel was constructed by Plains Indians between 300-800 years ago, and has been used and maintained by various groups since then. The central cairn is the oldest part, with excavations showing it extends below the wheel and has been buried by wind-blown dust. It may have supported a central pole. The star alignments are most accurate for around 1200 AD, since slight changes in the Earth's orbit have caused perturbations since. The solstice alignments remain accurate today. 

The Bighorn wheel is part of a much larger complex of interrelated archeological sites that represent 7000 years of Native American adaptation to and use of the alpine landscape that surrounds Medicine Mountain. Numerous contemporary American Indian traditional use ceremonial staging areas, medicinal and ceremonial plant gathering areas, sweat lodge sites, altars offering locales and fasting (vision quest) enclosures, can be found nearby. Ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and archeological evidence demonstrates that the Medicine Wheel and the surrounding landscape constitute one of the most important and well preserved ancient Native American sacred site complexes in North America. Between 70 and 150 wheels have been identified in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. 

As warm as it was we still found snow on the side of the trail

Taking a break after all the emotions of leaving my bracelet

A stop along the road, looking out over the Bighorn Basinn

 Sunday 9/18 and Monday 9/19

Sunday morning we got back on I-90 and headed to Rapid City, South Dakota.  We stayed at a RV Park that was right off the highway and very convenient to Custer State Park and Crazy Horse.  Crazy Horse is an amazing sculpture - it's been a work in progress for 50 years and it won't be finished in my lifetime.  It's very near Mount Rushmore which we didn't stop at because we visited there a few years ago (before RVing).

American Bison
Custer State Park was a fun park to drive in. We drove the wildlife loop and were not disappointed - we saw all kinds of animals.  This is a park that we'd like to come back to and stay at.  It would be fun to wake up and see a bison outside our rig.

Prairie Dogs are very friendly!

The burro's were looking for handouts

Tuesday, 9/20

Tuesday was spent driving the width of South Dakota until we got to Sioux Falls where we spent another night in a Walmart parking lot.  The weather wasn't very conducive to sleeping-  a parking lot without electricity, it was hot and humid and very uncomfortable (but free!).

Wednesday, 9/21

Wednesday was our last night on the road and we spent it at Veteran's Memorial Park in LaCrosse, Wisconsin right on the LaCrosse River which was on the verge of flooding.  They were actually moving rigs from the river sites up to higher land because there was more rain coming.  We were fine on our site and we were very happy to be there because we were visiting our niece, Elizabeth, who is a freshman at UW-LaCrosse!  We took her out to eat and then went back to her dorm room to check it out and meet her roommates. It was so nice to see one of my very favorite girls!


Thursday, 9/22

Back in Illinois!!  We are very happy to be back in the midwest and have lots of catching up to do with friends and family.  We also have some issues with the rig that need to be addressed.

That's it for this post, there's a lot more coming in the next one for October!

Go Cubs!!