CREATING A SLICE OF HEAVEN ON EARTH
Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
61Trip End Jul 11, 2013
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We set up camp in Wheaton, Illinois near Chicago with yet more of Mary's family. OK, so setting up camp would mean a luxurious Guest Room, kingsize bed in a beautiful new home with woodwork and finishes to rival some of the finest craftsmanship I've ever seen.
Great small town anchored by Wheaton College, with a nice hiking/biking trail system, an eclectic shopping district and train service that goes directly to downtown Chicago. Nice people too.
(Well dah! They're my relatives!)
Anyway, when we were gettting close I called my cousin Jess who gave me directions and instructions... mostly "Make yourselves at home" but also "don't pet Cody (their 12 year old deaf dog), He doesn't have any teeth but if he bites you it'll hurt!"
"Don't plan anything for dinner because my Aunt Kym (Hanrahan) is bringing pizza for all." Talk about a classic Chicago-Style welcome! We were treated to "Gianorio's" classic Chicago-Style pies... as thick and delicious as the plush, scrumptious comfort of the Ullrich home.
Come to find out, Brock, Jodi and Tom's 24 year old son, pulled into the driveway from a business trip as we were unloading. We surprised each other. He's a gorgeous 6'5" mean, lean NCAA Volleyball standout. (He played for Universirty Indiana-Purdue/Fort Wayne (IPFW) during its 2007 championship run.) This was our first introduction to the adult version of Brock, as it had been years (and years and years) since seeing him last. I may be a bit prejudiced but you'd have to try REALLY, REALLY hard not to like and/or love this guy!
And... as Billy is fast learning on this Odyssey of ours, that trait MIGHT just be genetic! I have claimed that I have THE BEST Family EVER for most of my life and I've puffing my chest out a lot lately with "I-told-you-so!"
When I put the "plea" out there on FaceBook, Jodi's response was... "Mare,there is always room at our Inn! Tom and I are visiting (son) Zach, Britt and Grace this weekend, (in Birmingham, Michigan) but Jess and Aaron will be around. Jess and Aaron "close" on their new house on Tuesday, so I'm sure we could put Billy's tools to some use ;) Xxoo, Jodi
Our hosts Jodi and Tom Ullrich
This house is magificent and so is this home. It is a showpiece yet a family haven and an entertainer's bliss. (I had 71 pictures to include in the post but Billy brought me back to earth (a job he's embraced for the past 30 years...)
My pictures could never do it justice but had to share SOME. Then again, the even more spectacular sights and sounds were those of this extended family. (I HAD to keep all those pictures in!)
There were a number of remarks... a THEME actually... about making sure Billy was in the pictures to PROVE that he truly existed and THEY had met him!
Everything in this family and home is genuine. Anyone who knows me has probably heard me say my favorite people are WYSIWYGs.. "What You See Is What You Get!" No pretense, no facades, just real, true, bonifide, hearts and souls in the flesh. So I guess I'm giving the credit here to Faye & Roll Doll (and Rolly's Mom my Auntie Mae and also Grandma & Grandpa Corcoran before her) for raising remarkable kids. As my Grandma Mallery used to say "You done good!"
It was easy to make ourselves at home. We wined and dined with my cousin Kym and her handsome, charming WYSIWYG husband Neal Hanrahan on that 1st night, which was perfect. Kym and I are exactly the same age had many great times together in our early teens in spite of living 1,000 miles apart.. again thanks to our folks.
We had the joy of spending the most time with Jessica & Aaron, though busy packing and planning to move into their new home in just a few days. We met some other college Volleyball friends of Brock's who had come from surrounding states to play in a breast cancer awareness tournament. (They were bummed that they only took 2nd place... I think he said there were 100+ teams.) The house is so big that the only way we knew they all spent the night was the 19 cars in the driveway (HaHa - okay I'm exagerating but we didn't hear a thing!) Billy & I tried out a lot of the great rooms in the house but actually hung out a lot up in the sitting room that's part of the "Gym" as we were pretty much the only ones home during the weekend days.
When Jodi and Tom got back from Michigan on Sunday afternoon, Kym had orchestrated an awesome family meal for all. Kym and Jodi are "twins born five years apart." They are as close as my sisters and I.
So more great conversation and cuisine! Often the conversation makes its way around to the Corcoran Clan Reunions and this one was no different. The Ullrich family volunteered to coordinate the next one in 2015 and in fact Jodi and Kym were leaving on Sunday to do a site visit to the top choice "Seventh Mountain Resort" in Bend, Oregon.
We had a grand time and lamented leaving this slice of Heaven, even with the excitement of so much of The Artful Odyssey ahead of us, not to mention we were only going 30 minutes away to Jess and Aaron's new house in St Charles, Illinios and we would still see these cousins for another day or two.
I have a lot more to say but I'm afraid it would be at the risk of losing you all.
So, as is my M.O., I will add more details (and 64 more pictures?) of this stop in the next few entries. We are SHOCKED at the number of views (1200!!!! ) we are getting on the BLOG! We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE receiving the comments from any and all of you. We do not know who the visitors are unless you comment so we'd love to hear from you.
A few people told us they thought our email had "been hacked" because they were getting our TravelPod links. It was kinda funny a few people called and texted to make sure we were OK since we hadn't posted anything new in a couple of days...We're spent a magnificent week in Ann Arbor and are really at my sister Connie's house in Madison, Indiana right now. I'm working to get the posts current. Mare