It’s been a while hey? So where have I been in the last few months?
Well, for 3 weeks of it I was living the dream in the USA.
And when I say “DREAM”, I mean that in my wildest dreams I truly never thought I’d get to do something like that again. But I did!! 🙂
My Big US Spoonie Adventure
I’m not going to bore you with all the details right now – I’ll save that for a later post, so store up some extra spoons for the full-length version! 🙂
No, for now, I’m just give you a quick overview of this amazing achievement and experience.
I truly didn’t think my health would ever again allow me to go on an overseas trip like I’ve just done.
I mean, you’re talking to someone who gets severe migraine headaches from electro-magnetic radiation (EMR), and you wanna know what one of the highest sources of EMR is? An aeroplane!!!
BUT, with a lot of preparation of mind, body and just basic logistics, I did it, I handled it well, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and my body held up really, really well! 🙂
If someone had told me 10 years ago this was a possibility for my life I would have laughed at them – or thrown something at them for mocking me so unfairly!! (Oh, the little victim I was back then … no that’s too harsh. I was just adjusting to the unimaginable!!)
I seem to be using a lot of exclamation points today, but I guess that’s my way of trying to get across to you how absolutely HUGE this trip was for me, and how elated I feel at having not only SURVIVED it, but actually THRIVED during and after.
So where did we go?
I said I’d keep this short, so I’ll save the story of my preparation (lots of it!! Mind, body and soul), my management of the flight/journey, and my management of my health while I was there for a later post (or a few!).
Melbourne to Peoria, Illinois
My Mum, daughter and I went to Peoria, Illinois to visit my sister, brother-in-law and two nieces who have moved there for 2 years from Australia for my brother-in-law’s work.
To get there we flew from Melbourne to Sydney (6am-7.30), Sydney to Los Angeles (9.30am – 6.30am – 14 hours, arriving the same day! Freaky!!), Los Angeles to Chicago (10.30am – 4.30pm – 4 hours). LONG journey!
At that point we stopped in a hotel the night near Chicago O’Hare Airport to revive (ah, sleep!!!), before catching a bus – 3 hours – to Peoria the next day (going through a place on the way I NEVER thought I’d be – Normal!!! 🙂 🙂
We stayed with my sister in their Peoria suburb of Dunlap for 3 1/2 days, basically relaxing and enjoying time with family (AND the lovely warm weather compared to the Ballarat winter we had left behind).
Nashville, Memphis, St Louis – The Aussie Griswalds on Vacation
On June 28th we tested the bonds of family by driving 8 hours to Nashville – dubbed the Aussie Griswalds US Adventure!
The trip went fast, kept us amused with all the signs for town names we found funny, took us through Illinois (the start), Kentucky, and Tennessee (the end), and we even dropped in to see Superman in Metropolis along the way.
We spent 1 1/2 days in Nashville, visiting the Johnny Cash Museum (loved it!), the Country Music Museum & Hall of Fame, and having a yummy southern lunch in town on the first day – I tried Fried Green Tomatoes as an ode to one of my fave movies of all time (quite yummy) and we basically had a lovely day.
The second day was a huge highlight, visiting Cooter’s Garage, which is a museum and shop dedicated to the 80s television series The Dukes of Hazzard (yep, we’re hicks from the sticks!). The biggest thrill? The General Lee (the car from the show) was sitting out front and we were able to have our photo taken in it. The 10 year old girl in me was “Walking on Sunshine” – cannot emphasise how cool this was for me!! (Some people have just stopped reading this post I’m tipping! 😉
Next step that day was a little higher up in the culture stakes, with us visiting the Ryman Auditorium where The Grand Ole Opry was originally recorded and is again being recorded there now. I knew nothing about this place before I went, but was in awe of all the amazing singers who have sung there and the history of the place by the end of our tour.
We saw a little of Downtown Nashville that day too, with all the live music in cafes, bars and restaurants – we’d already eaten in a great bar with live music back near Cooter’s – and it’s certainly a place I’d like to return to.
To Memphis, Graceland, Sun Studio
BUT we were off to Memphis that afternoon – about a 3 1/2 hour drive (with me singing under my breath, and occasionally out loud, “We’re goin’ to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis Tennessee. We’re goin’ to Graceland” … which may or may not have annoyed some of my family members!) 🙂
So the next day … WE WENT TO GRACELAND! 🙂 Having been an Elvis fan all my life, I was very excited. And it was certainly an experience to see where he lived and hear more about his life. I’m not going to say it’s the best thing I did on my trip, but I’m glad I went. I think I over-hyped it (too much singing – darn you Paul Simon!), but I also found it a little too over-commercialised, which made me a little sad. Elvis was so exploited during his own lifetime and I felt it was a little that way still. BUT I did get emotional when I stood at his grave, and after a while I kinda started to feel the spirit of Elvis all around me. It was definitely a special day and a tick off the bucket list!
The next day was what surprised me. Matt and I were keen to visit Sun Studio where Elvis, Johnny Cash and many others had recorded their first songs. But the spiritual experience of our tour was something I wasn’t expecting. YES, I said spiritual. The tour guide was young and enthusiastic and a great story-teller (no iPads like at Graceland). The group was small, and the passion of Sam Phillips – the founder of Sun Studio – could almost be felt in the walls, as could the spirits of all the incredible singers who had stood in that tiny studio over the years. When they told me U2 had recorded their Rattle ‘n’ Hum album there, my knees almost went from under me. Elvis, Johnny Cash AND U2 … be still my beating heart! 😉
We got to hold the microphone Elvis and so many others had used to record with, had our photos taken with it, and basically got to absorb the magic that had been created over the decades in that tiny room. I truly did walk out like I was walking on air, and the hairs were constantly standing up on the back of my neck. It was incredibly special, and if you love music and ever get to Memphis, don’t miss that tour!! (Rave over!)
St Louis & The Mississippi River
Lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in Memphis (yeah, I know it wasn’t too adventurous but we had young kids with us), and then off we drove over the Mississippi River (another bucket list item ticked off!), out through Arkansas to Missouri, landing in St Louis for the night (If you’re counting, that’s 5 states we touched!)
Dinner at Wholefoods for the second night – oh how I’m in love with Wholefoods! – and Ben & Jerry’s for dessert (gotta treat yourself sometimes … and Ben & Jerry’s is SUCH a treat, and SO much cheaper than in Australia!).
Next day we saw a little of St Louis – Forest Park on the recommendation of my fave health podcaster Shawn Stevenson who is a local – a little wander around downtown, under the Arch, down to the Mississippi where we were hoping for a paddle steamer ride … unfortunately the river was in flood so much they weren’t able to run (bucket list item postponed). Really liked St Louis and would like to return to see more.
Back to Peoria
Drove back to Peoria that day, so that we could go to the 4th of July fireworks the next day. WOW! I’ve never seen fireworks like it. Spectacular!!
The following week, we just spent a lot of relaxing time at my sister’s house, with me enjoying my walks in nature, seeing bumblebees, interesting dragon flies, new birds, and my highlight every night – sitting out watching the fireflies light up! Magic 🙂
We had lovely, relaxing family time during that week. I loved spending time with my nieces – 5 and 7 – and my sister and brother-in-law. Getting to share that with Mum and my daughter Sophie was very, very special.
We enjoyed visiting the supermarkets – loved Krogers – and other stores we’d only ever seen on TV (my almost-12-year-old daughter’s wishes), and just seeing some of the local area.
The last day we saw a badger near the swimming pool, but the squirrels and chipmunks avoided me during my nature walks. According to my sister I must be blind not to have seen them. She knows everything, so that must be the case 😉
Chicago – The Beautiful, Windy City
Our final days in the US were spent in Chicago. My sis and family went up there with us for a night, then we had 2 days on our own to explore the beautiful city.
Loved, loved, loved Chicago! Such a beautiful city, with it’s gorgeous architecture, parks, pier, lake … the lot. It WAS summer and gorgeous weather, so we saw it at it’s best, but it definitely now has a special place in my heart.
Fun fact: Chicago is NOT known as the Windy City because it is windy. The name came from New York politicians saying at one stage in history that Chicago politicians were full of hot air/wind, with someone dubbing them the Windy City!! 🙂 Educational blog too!
Our final day was spent in the Chicago O’Hare Airport awaiting our 5.25pm flight, which ended up leaving around 7.45pm, which meant we missed our connecting flight to Sydney in LA. Luckily we made it onto a later flight around midnight going to Melbourne via Brisbane.
All up we’d been up 48 hours by the time we got home (although we slept a bit on the plane), but it was all worth it.
My body and health handled it particularly well, but I worked hard at making that so. How? That’s another blog. Stay tuned!
Short summary?? Can Louise EVER do short? Nah, not really.
I’ll include some photos to break up the text (soon), but I hope you are now up-to-date with where I’ve been lately. Prior to the trip I was working hard on building my part-time business – The VA Team of virtual assistants – to help fund my dreams of a membership site for Spoonies, plus I was doing lots of mental and physical preparation for the trip.
I truly didn’t realise how much I needed the break until I got away. I really hadn’t had a proper break from all my online entrepreneurial passions, single motherhood and strict, committed health treatments/regimes for years. I didn’t realise how mentally tired I was. The break has helped sooo much to refresh me!
Stay tuned for more regular blogs. I have lots of drafts I’m going to finish up and start posting.
Hope you are all going well … ok … kinda good … better than yesterday! The Spoonie life has so many ups and downs. I just hope you enjoyed hearing about one of my major UPs.
Dreams CAN come true. We CAN still work towards our dreams even if we have chronic illness.
That’s the motto of this story.
Keep Smiling 🙂
PS. To see some of my photos of my trip check out my #365Gratefuls Project on Instagram – LouiseBibby72 I’m up over Day 580 now 🙂