Having closed on our house, my wife and I are on the road to the Pacific Northwest. First stop: my home town of Chicago.

One of the first things I realized I need to do as a "downshifter" is to slow down. This morning, I needed to coach myself to relax and take life a little easier; we'll get where we're going when we get there.

With some help from my wife I was able to relax a bit - though I suspect it will take a little time to completely unwind - and after a leisurely breakfast at a local Indianapolis haunt, we hit the road for Chicago.

By the time we reached the Windy City, I could feel myself letting down a bit. I wasn't gripping the steering wheel as hard, and only the absolutely worst and/or rudest drivers solicited the slightest mutterings. And when we got the Museum of Natural History, paid $16 to park, and only then found the exhibit we wanted to see had closed on the previous Sunday -- no problem! So I'm making progress.

When I suggested we head for a favorite Polish deli and buy some Pierogi for a friend we'll be meeting for dinner, my wife suggested we also grab some goodies and have a picnic lunch.

The weather was beautiful, so we did exactly that. Heading through the old neighborhood, we would up at the Schiller Woods Forest Preserve, where I'd spent many happy weekends as a child. That's me, pumping water from one of the wells, just as I did 40 years ago (was it REALLY that long?).

Tonight, dinner with our friend. Tomorrow, we head west to Iowa's Amana Colonies, though perhaps in less a hurry than we left Indianapolis this morning. After all, the Westin has offered a complimentary 4 p.m. checkout so, as is becoming out mantra, "We'll get there when we get there."

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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