Chicago: Sand Dunes and Snow Cones

Alternative title: When the Bad Thing Becomes the Best Thing.

After we left New York, we grabbed the trailer and the dog (she was very excited to see us--the feeling was mutual) and got on the road. We drove a couple hours and stayed a night a campground in Illinois. The next morning we got up and drove the rest of the way to Chicago.

As we travel, Zach and I both have to get work done. My work (content editing and/or writing depending on the day) is easy to do on the road as long as I've got a working laptop. My goal for the drive to Chicago was to finish a client's manuscript and then post on social media about my event the following day. The manuscript took me most of the trip, so as we pulled up to the campgrounds, I was verifying the details of my signing before I put it on twitter, crosschecking my notes with the store's event calendar. Except when I clicked on the bookstore's website, there was nothing on their calendar about my event.

This was a panic-inducing moment. We had literally arrived at our stop in Chicago--drove my family across the country--for an event that was never scheduled.

After talking with the bookstore and verifying that my although I'd gotten confirmation from them, the event had "slipped through the cracks," I definitely hit a low point.

I would have liked to stop and probably cry a bit, but the kids had been in the car all day and needed to run around. Plus, we had to eat dinner. So, setting aside the frustration for then, we took them to the beach at our campgrounds to see the Indiana sand dunes and to stick our feet in the cold, cold water.

It was so pretty, but looking back over the pictures now, I noticed we didn't take a ton. I was pretty distracted.  

 The view of Lake Michigan from the shore. Look at the bird in the sky on the right--it looks like the ones you draw as a kid.

The view of Lake Michigan from the shore. Look at the bird in the sky on the right--it looks like the ones you draw as a kid.

 View from the top of the sand dunes. (There were two sisters that ran down from the top and just bit it right before I took this picture.)

View from the top of the sand dunes. (There were two sisters that ran down from the top and just bit it right before I took this picture.)

By the next day, I was able to mentally reset. Still bummed. Still felt rejected. But better. And now the kids and I had an unexpected day to fill.

Earlier in the summer, Logan asked for a snow cone machine for his birthday. We decided to make that happen, and to get take it up a notch and get an industrial one that our family could share. (Side note: if you have kids with a gluten allergy, or really any allergy, I highly recommend buying a snow cone machine. You can use it for birthdays, parties, etc. It's easily paid for itself already and we've only had it a month.) So with our free time, we decided to have a impromptu snow cone stand at our campsite. While Zach went into town to work, the kids and I stayed behind and set up shop.

 The kids ready to give out free snow cones and free bookmarks.

The kids ready to give out free snow cones and free bookmarks.

 Business was slow at first, but eventually the guys pictured below came by (they will henceforth be known as my street team). Over snow cones, they asked tons of questions about my book. It was a great conversation. Then they decided, along with my oldest kid, they would go around the campground and let everybody know we had free snow cones and bookmarks.

 My street team. They are cousins at the same campground as us.

My street team. They are cousins at the same campground as us.

My street team really got the word out. After a couple hours, we'd given out around fifty snow cones and bookmarks. (And bonus: I got tons of experience talking about my book.)

This was so much fun. Better than I thought I could hope for.

 This was one of my all time favorite afternoons.

This was one of my all time favorite afternoons.

And it gets even better. After this picture was taken, the young lady in the pink hat came back on her skateboard. She told me she was a writer and asked if I had any advice on how to become a published author.

Of course, I did. So we got to talk books for a while. She was so impressive. I have no doubt if she keeps writing, she'll have a book on the shelves someday.

After we ran out of cups and snow cone syrup, we loaded up again. On our way to the next campsite, we stopped in Chicago.

 This is the Navy Pier in Chicago. We decided I'm a New York gal, and my husband is a Chicago guy. He loved it here like I loved NY.

This is the Navy Pier in Chicago. We decided I'm a New York gal, and my husband is a Chicago guy. He loved it here like I loved NY.

 And we HAD to get Chicago pizza. They didn't have a gluten free deep dish pizza, but the one Logan and I ate was still excellent. The gluten eaters liked theirs too.

And we HAD to get Chicago pizza. They didn't have a gluten free deep dish pizza, but the one Logan and I ate was still excellent. The gluten eaters liked theirs too.

We're on our way to Denver now, though we do have a couple stops between here and there. I've doubled checked and double confirmed the rest of the scheduled events so we don't show up to another not-happening signing. But still, I think the way this stop went was way better than what I had planned. It's got me thinking a lot about how sometimes the things the seem no good and altogether rotten turn into the biggest blessings. If you've got your own example, I'd love to hear about it!