Vacation Weekend (!?)

I didn't really expect to take any vacation for several months yet; after all, my first pastoral contract stipulated no vacation until after a year, and from what I understand that's pretty standard in the working world. But my S.P. returned from sabbatical last week and encouraged me to take the weekend off. (That's kind of funny, eh? I keep thinking how much I like working with my senior pastor, but we haven't actually worked together much yet. I'm pretty confident that the actual working together is going to be even better than the already-but-not-yet working together).

Sometimes you don't realize how much you need a vacation until it's handed to you, unexpectedly. A gift of time. We spent last week anticipating and plotting, and now we get to spend the rest of our days remembering what we all agreed was one fantastic trip.

Given that our schedules didn't allow for a Friday departure, we decided we didn't have quite enough time to go all the way to Ohio. We wanted to spend as little time traveling as possible. So we poked around on The Internet and uncovered the Illinois State Beach Resort in Zion, which is scarcely over an hour away. We booked two nights. It wasn't exactly cheap - next time we'll try to find a weeklong cabin rental or something - but it was money very well spent.

The highlights:
  • Unsurprisingly, the beach. The weather on Saturday was flawless. Oh, Lake Michigan: you'll do. You'll definitely do. I feel like we've pulled one over on the universe - leaving So Cal for the Midwest only to rediscover how completely lovely the Great Lakes can be.
  • Despicable Me. We had no plans to see a movie, but when we were pulling out of our dinner spot, I noticed a) The Dunes Theater across the street, and b)that the next showing of Despicable Me was in exactly twelve minutes. Ben and I laughed so hard when one of those little alien dudes was used as a glow stick I thought Juliette was going to pretend she didn't know us. What a great movie.
  • Sunday morning was markedly less sunny, but we had even more fun at the beach in the light drizzle than we'd had in Saturday's brilliance. We threw/skipped stones into the water, ran around willy-nilly (always a Juliette favorite), and stacked rocks.
  • The Jelly Belly Tour just over the border in Wisconsin. The tour itself is a little rinky-dink, but they do give out free jelly beans at the end. If you ever find yourself halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago with time to kill, go for it. (The actual highlight of this tour is not rated "E" for everyone. It involved a impeccably-timed bodily function on the part of the only member of our family for whom it is still somewhat socially acceptable to engage in such bodily functions in public.)
  • We returned to the beach on Sunday afternoon. Juliette was in a rotten mood, thanks to all the sugar in her system, but Ben and I each dunked ourselves three times in the exquisitely cold water, and we both agreed it was the best part of the day, and possibly the weekend.
We came home this afternoon, refreshed and renewed.

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