Wake up, eat cheerios, watch some Project Runway.
I spent the morning trying to upload pictures to Facebook. hundreds and hundreds of pictures uploaded, with hundreds left that I didn't get the chance to toss up. They'll have to go up after this trip is through, when I'm safe and sound, back in Good Ol' Canada. That idea still slightly terrifies me.
I've been having dreams about familiar places – and my memories have been switching over. Blasts of images, the shopping complex with grocery store, local bank, Pizza Pizza, and dollar store came flooding back. I remembered the path, and amount of stepts to walk from parking lot to bank to pizza, to video rental, back to car. I can visually picture all the areas around me, and the floor plan to a mall I'd not visited for twelve and a half months.
It's as if my brain is making space for the knowledge it thinks will be useful, make my life easier, once I return. I can already feel the familiar feel of stepping into my local Best Buy, and it's as if I'd never left – even though I'm yet to return. And it's eerie – and depressing. If we go with the assumption that my mind is making ready for my return, shifting skills and knowledges, I wonder what I've given up without even realizing.
Can I still plan three weeks of hostels and flights and trains in an afternoon, without much thought? Or has that left me. Turning a stranger into a friend over a free breakfast, is that something I'd still do without thinking – is that even possible in the real world?
Surely my mind has shifted some as I traded trains and planes for an automobile, but -
It will be different.
Killing some virtual Nazi's in Call of Duty 3, I whiled away the time until we headed out to The Dunes. Indiana's lake shore is a National Park – but being late in the season, there is no longer anyone there to collect an entrance fee. Not that it would matter, as Kath and I have our access pass. After a quick count, we realized we'd been to over twenty of America's national parks / monuments in the past ten months. Maybe we should have got the Parks Passport to stamp out all the places we had travelled to. A couple we me at Yellowstone sai how they'd just made it to their twentieth park, and they'd only had their passport for nine years.
We didn't say anything then. Twenty parks in nine years really is impressive. Not many people decide that driving more than ten thousand miles in ten weeks is a good idea let alone one that could provide great fun.
The dunes was a beautiful beach, with large mounds of sand to hike up and around. Across the water, you could see Chicago – so far away. Steel mills, or iron works, also lined the water. There's a story about how this park became protected the same day the plants were told they could build here. I'm not sure how it all worked out, but for some reason or other they are in a symbiotic relationship, each needing the other to co-exist properly.
Walking on sand reminded me about hiking up Dune 45 in Namibia. Give me snow any day. Walking in deep water might, almost, be preferable.
Up the sand, down the boardwalk, and then – after some good ol' outside, we headed off to The Mall.
Yes, The Mall. I wanted to see if I could buy individually coloured packets of fuse beads – perler beads – hama beads – take your pick at the name. I failed. But, we did go to a hippy shop which sold glass pipes, and bongs. A sign read the store will refuse sale if they think it will be used for illegal purposes. And I think the sign was serious. I wonder what they think these things are used for? Sure the sign called them tobacco pipes – but, don't people who smoke tobacco from a pipe usually have one of those awesome Sherlock Holmes deals, not a psychedelic glass piece?
My other purpose for coming to the mall was to pick up a copy of Uncharted for our oh-so-welcoming host. Unfortunately Gamestop decided that they hate that game, and had no copies in stock, not even used. Next choice for gift? Fallout 3. Hard to say if this was the better choice. Uncharted would have been good, as he liked the Tomb Raider games a lot. But Fallout 3 is – well – Fallout 3. And that's awesome too.
Our last stop was a craft store to find the much desired plastic beads required to make video game sprites. But it too was a failure. However, just before we left my eyes stumbled upon a package of candy: Boston Baked Beans. One of the podcasts we've been listening to talk about these potential treats, referring to them as the enemy of candy. They are said to be the most vial tasting things of all times. At their heart they are candy coated peanuts. But their vial exterior proves too strong for even the kindest soul to shine through.
I had to have them.
With beans in hand, I prepared for the worst as I took a great big bite. They were – well, to be honest, they were not all that bad. They were kinda like peanut M+Ms. I didn't hate the candy, and for some reason I was upset by this.
The woman ringing up my candy entered the amount I gave her incorrectly, and my receipt claimed that i was owed over one million dollars. It was like being back in Africa all over again. But did I receive this one million dollars, that the computer could not have been wrong about? No. All I got was seven and change.
I pointed this out, but the cashier did not seem impressed. When she asked for a zip code, and I told her I didn't have one her mood further soured. I do believe she thought I was just screwing with her. I tried to explain I had something similar with crazy letters and numbers, but she just waved me away. So, while the candy may have disappointed by being good, the purchasing experience did not let me down.
After that we just headed back, grabbed some sandwiches from Jimmy John's (the fastest sub creation restaurant you've ever seen) and then watched a few episodes of Flight of the Conchords, followed by Eastend and Out. Eastside and Out? Something about an ex-baseball player who works, now, as a substitute teacher.
And then to bed.
It was a quiet end to what has been a very long year.