Week 32: In The City

This prompt from Generations Cafe had me channeling John Denver…Thank God I’m a Country Girl! I grew up in Gurnee, Illinois, a small farming town north of Chicago, population 3000. It was a 45 mile trip “into the City”. My first experience into the city was taking the North Shore train with my Mom and sister to a medical convention where my sister was consulting with eye specialists. We did that many times and it was always a hassle. I was relieved and happy to get home to our little farm.

My husband was a city boy! Our courtship often took us into Chicago where he wooed me with fine dining experiences. Our first date was at Chez Paul (featured in the Blues Brothers movie). I was totally impressed with Jim’s knowledge of the city. I learned to savor martinis at The Tip Top Tap on the top floor of the Allerton hotel and devour deep dish pizza at Uno’s. While these were all exciting adventures I felt out of place…never at ease.

New York Skyline 1960

In 1960 we took a fall “leaf peeper” trip to the East Coast where we visited Washington D.C., New York City and Boston. I loved seeing all the historical monuments but when we hit the big city I had a very adverse reaction to the streets of New York. Actually, now I think I had a panic attack. (They paved paradise and put in a parking lot) We left the city a few days early and headed for Boston where we got caught in hurricane Hazel and had to hole up in a motel for 2 days. The best part of the trip came the day after the hurricane when we drove north on the Atlantic coast in Maine. What a relief it was to leave the towering concrete skyline and stand on the ocean shore.

French Quarter New Orleans 1976

I had a similar experience in New Orleans in 1976 when I accompanied Jim on a business trip. We stayed in a quaint French Quarter hotel while he went to a convention nearby. While we had some divine food experiences (Antoine’s) I only lasted 2 days and then told Jim I had to get out of there. We took off and travelled east on Interstate 10 through Louisiana into Mississippi stopping for lunch where we sat outside in view of the Gulf of Mexico waters. Of course we then headed for the beach, took off our shoes and walked in the sand. I felt cleansed after the walking the noisy, dirty streets of the French Quarter.

In 1985 I took a business trip to Europe where I spent two weeks in Swindon, England and Darmstadt, Germany. Those towns were small enough and historical to capture my interest. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by towering buildings and treeless avenues. Jim joined me for a sightseeing week in London and Paris where we were overwhelmed with all the history and landmarks so, for me, no time for panic. Maybe I was just older and wiser!

In the early 80’s I went on a business trip with a few co-workers to Long Island where we spent a week in training new employees. My boss was a native New Yorker so one evening he took us all into the city where I did have a fun and memorable city experience. Gary took us to his old neighborhood in Little Italy. When we walked into the little Italian restaurant he was greeted like family. It was like a scene from a movie! Tables were pushed together and mountains of food appeared. We were all treated like royalty and the food was perfect….my first real fresh made pasta! After dinner we walked the streets for awhile and ended up buying ice cream cones and cookies and enjoying the sights and sounds of New York. I’m sure it was so enjoyable because of the warm family atmosphere and probably the red wine.

Give me a choice of vacations and I’ll choose nature over city every time! Hiking in the Rocky Mountains or in Banff above Lake Louise, snorkeling in Hawaii, picking apples in Wisconsin, wine tasting in Napa, dinner cruising on Lake McDonald, pontoon boating on Green Bay, picnic lunches on the banks of the Snake River, sipping wine on Pebble Beach…these are the places I’d much rather be!

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