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Yes – I flew it!!!  For only a minute, maybe, but I flew it!!!  Then we rolled and looped and did a bunch of other aerobatic maneuvers, the names of which I don’t remember, because we were turning over and over in mid-air!!!  Amazing, exhilarating, breathtaking – and much more comfortable staying in the airplane than jumping out of it!

Another Groupon adventure – This one bringing my dad and me out to the Aurora Airport to fly with help (and training and parachutes and piloting) from the Gauntlet Warbirds: www.gauntletwarbirds.com on this North American T-6 Texan aircraft.  I hope to do this once again and, next time, have the nerve to take the controls for an aerobatic maneuver.

Ready Dad?   

My apple picking adventure has morphed into this one as I realized apple picking season is fast flying by without a picked (or to-be-picked) apple in sight. Instead, Jim and I (and Daisy and Vinnie) headed two hours straight west of Chicago to experience and enjoy the changing leaves of Fall along the Rock River in Oregon, Illinois.  There definitely would be more vibrant colors in upcoming weeks, but we experienced beautiful scenery at the beginning of this season as we drove right next to the Rock River on IL-2 for miles, then hiked Lowden and Castle Rock State Parks over the weekend.  (Can you find our little furry friend [and I don’t mean Vincent] in the pics below?)

Funny how after driving all that way, we noticed on the way home that the leaves were much more colorful on Lake Shore Drive.

THIS was a true challenge.  Not so much the computer, but the phone – that damn, addictive iphone.  I use it for everything – music, audiobooks, podcasts, Kindle, GPS, datebook, contact list, weather, an alarm clock, my to-do list, grocery shopping, camera, e-mail, internet access – and, yes, even occasionally as a phone (on the rare occasion AT&T has reception).

I began this challenge as we drove away from the house to head on our Fall leaves adventure in Oregon, IL.  I had intended to leave the phone at home, but conveniently “forgot” to take it out of my pocket.  I realized when we stopped for gas that I still had it, but thought that since I didn’t have my charger, it would die soon so it wouldn’t matter.  Then, a little voice in my head told me to turn the whole thing completely off to preserve juice – just in case. 

OK – 2:30 Friday afternoon – the phone is off and the challenge has begun!  No problem – we’re driving, keeping each other and the dogs company, listening to the radio, watching the scenery.  I can do this.  I want to check my e-mail, the weather, the maps function – but I stay strong!  We arrive in Oregon about 4:30 and didn’t even need the GPS to get there.  Whew!  Took the dogs for a walk then went out for dinner.  Still good to go.  Then back to the house.  A little wine on the front porch.  Wouldn’t music be nice?  No – it’s on my phone.  How about a little reading before bed?  No Kindle or Kindle app on iphone.  Hmmm.  OK – a little old-fashioned reading with a paperback book – I can handle that.  No alarm clock – no problem – we’re on vaca.  What will the weather be like tomorrow?  Who knows – I’m not turning the TV on (see Adventure #31) and the Weather Bug app is not a possibility. 

Later, I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic.  Usually the dogs stay home with a sitter when we’re out of town, but this time they were with us.  What if someone broke into our home?  There has been a spate of crime in our neighborhood lately.  We hadn’t set the alarm and the only contact information neighbors had was my e-mail address!  I had to check my e-mail!!  (No, Connie, you are not using your phone.  Yes, but, this could be serious!)  So – I cheated and told myself I would only check for emergency phone or e-mail messages.  Of course, there were none, although the owners of the home we were staying in had sent an e-mail message, so it was only right that I reply.  Then, I powered the phone completely off again.

Yes – this challenge was a bust.  I checked my phone twice more that weekend – just to make sure we hadn’t been robbed and the house hadn’t burned down.  We hadn’t and it didn’t.   My name is Connie and I am an addict.

This experience actually turned out to be a boon for Jim.  I told him to watch whatever he wanted as long as it wasn’t something that interested me.  I would sit in the same room and read or play on the computer but not pay attention to the TV set.  Jim finally was able to watch uninterrupted sports.  Although he never stayed awake for long, Jim looked pretty darned blissful.

This challenge really wasn’t much of one for the majority of the week – until the last 6 hours. It was Saturday night while we were out of town for the weekend (See Adventure #33).  We were beat from a day of hiking and exploring with the dogs (and eating and drinking with each other) and wanted to stay in that evening.  It began with Jim turning on the TV and, instead of immediately turning to sports, flipping to a documentary on inmates in maximum security prisons who tattooed the whites of their EYEBALLS.  One had red “whites” and one had navy blue.  How could I not look at that?!  Yuck.

Then we wanted to watch a movie.  The house was stocked with great DVD’s so I justified it by saying to myself that at least we weren’t watching a TV show, just using the TV for its DVD player.  Still a cheat but I was having enough trouble with Adventure #32 by that time, so what the hell.

I cannot believe I have never done this before.  I’ve always imagined watching a film with audio in another language would drive me insane.  Not so.  Almost as much as I loved the books, I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie in Steig Larsson’s Swedish trilogy – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.   Looking forward to the next two (in Swedish) and wondering how the American versions will stack up.

A Photo Safari, that is.

Another Groupon led me to this interesting adventure offered by a company called Chicago Photo Safaris (www.chicagophotosafaris.com). While CPS also offers “safaris” to such far flung places as Australia and Alaska, this deal focused locally on one of the company’s four Chicago excursions, an afternoon in Millennium Park.

So, there I was, at the Bean sculpture meeting my safari leader, her co-workers, and five fellow adventurers – each of whom sported a complicated-looking SLR camera with all the cool do-hickeys and fancy cases – and me with my five year old tiny, accessory- and pouch-less point and shoot. Well, the website said people of all levels and all types of cameras were welcomed, so my faithful PowerShot and I were going to stick it out – inadequacies of skill and equipment be damned – I was finally going to figure out how to use this thing!

Actually, the CPS folks were extremely helpful and the instructor knew everything about my camera so I don’t think I held the group up too badly.  On this lovely September day, I learned some photography basics and even ended up with a few pretty photos:

What a fantastic blast from the past!   A warm summer evening, the first long drive in Jim’s new/old car, dinner picked up at an old fashioned drive-through diner, then on to this theater – Cascade in West Chicago – that looks like it hasn’t changed a bit in 30 years.  Even the videos promoting the snack bar were the old-time dancing dogs and popcorn reels.  The movies –  The Expendables and Piranha – were not anything we would have gone to see in a regular theater but were perfect for that outdoor atmosphere.    Loved this adventure!