After being woken up at 6:30 a.m. by our human alarm clock – J, we were up and about, ready to eat breakfast even before the place across the street, Little Branch Cafe, opened. As soon as it did, we placed our orders and went down and picked it up in 15 minutes. Aaron had the traditional french toast while I had buttermilk pancake.
Ever since we brunched there with friends last Saturday and I ordered one pancake for J and thought it was the closest in taste and texture to my favorite pancake ever (Perkins, Dyersburg), I had wanted to eat pancakes there again. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed this time. In any case, we had breakfast without too much of a fuss from J who liked his pancake.
Soon after, we packed up all the last minute stuff including our individual air mattresses and sleeping bags from last night, J’s pack n play, and left Chicago for good at 10:48 a.m.
Because of his early rise, J was quite sleepy the whole morning and fell asleep even before we had crossed the Chicago city limits. We ideally like for him to nap in the afternoon during the drive so that we can do a long driving stretch, uninterrupted. However, we just decided to play it by one hour at a time and see where it takes us. In any case, trying to keep J awake when he is so completely ready to give in to the sweet charms of a good sleep, is a gargantuan task. So we just let him nap. I think I fell asleep too.
Our first stop was in Huntley, IL – about an hour from Chicago with traffic. Ideally, we would have liked to hang out with Suri and Bob but because they both had doctors’ appointments, we couldn’t. Then, just as we were driving through, we spotted an outlet mall and decided to stop in and walk around. The point of stopping was to give J some exercise and for us to stretch our legs to prepare for the longer drive ahead, and of course to grab some lunch.
We had no idea Huntley had an outlet mall. It seemed quite forlorn and uninhabited. A number of the big brands had representation there – GAP, Guess, Banana Republic, Dress Barn, Eddie Bauer, Funhouse (which I first thought was something like a Dave and Buster’s), and some others we didn’t really look at. We only stopped in at two places – a Banana Republic where we didn’t buy anything, and an Eddie Bauer store where I bought a few things including a water resistant shell which is quite cool and light weight. It is also a wind breaker. Seriously, who knew Huntley had an outlet mall!
It even had a little food court with only three restaurants – Asian Express, The Great Steak and Potato, and a Cinnabon-wannabe. Aaron got a burger while I got Moo Shoo. I really enjoyed my food and J partook of both our foods and mostly ate the chicken from the moo shoo.
Right outside the food court area was a little playground with slides and after lunch, Aaron took J out for some play time while I, get this!! – got my eyebrows threaded from a lady at the mall inside the food court. I had been wanting to get them done before leaving Chicago but never had the time. This total serendipitous encounter with a threading lady was awesome and she was really nice too. Her name is Vandana and she did an excellent job on my ‘brows for $8.
What was going to be a 1 hour halt turned out to be 2 hours but we enjoyed this unexpected mini-detour.
From here, we drove straight to Sparta, WI – three hours away. J did really well. I gave him a paci to induce sleep which calmed him and eventually led him to nap again. Both mommy and baby napped at the back while daddy drove his steady and careful pace.
Sparta, WI – Located on i80, our hotel is comfortable and well maintained. It has a two pools including a kiddie pool. It also has a hot tub. After checking in and settling in, we took J for a splash in the pool and he had a great time soaking himself and just all out hanging out in the water. From his first time at the Millennium Park waterfalls to the 12th st. beach to the beach in Canada at his grandparents’ cottage to all the stand in showers and pool time in our condo building, the kiddo has come a long way in becoming completely at ease with water. I really want to start swimming lessons for him at the earliest chance I get.
Anyway, after his splash time, we did a Google search and followed Trip Advisor’s recommendation to go to Sparta Family Restaurant, a short drive from our hotel. I ordered a BLT club while Aaron ordered a hot turkey sandwich. We both enjoyed our food although I didn’t finish mine and later ate it at the hotel. J ate a packed of food and some bread. He caught the eye of at least two older women at the restaurant. One kept staring at him the whole time and quietly smiling at his antics while another who came in later kept looking at him and smiling. Later the first woman asked how old he was and mentioned her great grand daughter who was going to turn 1 soon. The other lady mentioned just how cute J was 🙂
After returning to our room, we did J’s usual routine of milk, bath time, story time and sleep time. After a few restless moments, he fell asleep. Tomorrow we get back on the road for another 4 hours drive and another state. Good first day.