Day 53: Dear Chicago

Slept a few hours at one of Iowa's excellent "modern" rest areas. Apparently they have wifi, mosaic tiling, and electronic info centers. Then spent the whole morning driving through the alternating corn fields and suburbs of eastern Iowa and all of Illinois that isn't Chicagoland. It was oppressively humid by 8am, which made for a beautiful sunrise and a tortuous heat index. I finally gave up and resorted to air conditioning.

Around lunch I reached Chi-town and head to the north side to visit Raija, a friend since grade school. She and her super boyfriend, Ben, are learning how to make violins and other similar string instruments. I met her at the school where I was immediately treated to a full tour and overview of the process. The work is so painstaking, a labor of love and fanaticism that shines in the remarkable craftsmanship of the finished pieces. Making wood sing. Resonate plant fibers. Raija continues to be one of the most awesome people I have the privilege of knowing. The talent and drive of my friends never ceases to amaze me. I got to spend the afternoon watching her work on her violin, while we chatted and caught up.

When Raija and Ben finished up we went to their apartment where I got a desperately needed shower. Then we walked to get coffee and scones, and took them to eat by the lake. Picked up some groceries, and made dinner back at their place. Yum, fresh veggies! We talked of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax until the late hours. The conversation always intimate, insightful, never dull, and punctuated with hilarity. The mark of true kindred spirits. They're visiting home in August. Good times ahead.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T