By now you likely know that we both participate in medical studies and in particular I’m a few years into a study run by the Michael J. Fox Foundation out of Boston University. I’m a control, I do NOT have Parkinsons. They’re looking for gene markers and think there’s a correlation with Gauche’s Disease which my Mom had. So I have that marker. Pre-Covid they flew us to Boston twice a year but now it’s virtual once and then they cram all the testing into one visit instead of two. It’s a grueling day, 8 AM to 6 PM including taking blood, urine, skin biopsy, lumbar puncture by fluoroscopy (FLP), MRI, DAT scan, as well as cognitive and neuro assessments. But it’s worth it. I’m happy to help them out and in return we get free flights every year to see family.
We left home at 4:30 AM on Tuesday May 17. The study was all day Wednesday. The following is primarily a collection of our Facebook posts with a little extra added.
Middletown, RI – Thursday morning the 18th we took Amtrak from Boston to Kingston, RI and my brother Ric picked us up. We had a lovely visit staying in the bedroom that was mine growing up. We enjoyed a home cooked dinner at my niece Sarah’s that night. Friday we saw Heather, Ric’s oldest, and walked the Cliff Walk. Lisa fixed a wonderful red pepper soup for dinner with Debbie & Kevin. This photo is my “little brother” (5 years younger) with Lisa in front of our childhood home where they raised their 3 daughters.
Saturday travel day to Chicago – The study provided driver service from Middletown back to Logan where we flew to see Sarah’s twin sister Shaina in Chicago. Having done this visit alone immediately prior to Covid I knew the drill to get from O’Hare to Logan Square where we dined at the Chicago Diner – Meat Free since 1983! I was excited to share Chicago with Spencer this time. Shaina collects photo booth pix so we went next door to the Mustache for this one. She went all out in making us feel at home. We stayed at her sweetie Ty’s place which was well-stocked with all our morning smoothie ingredients and a new blender!
Sunday, May 22 – We returned to Logan Square and visited the Farmer’s Market. Then we headed downtown, stopping at the Chicago Cultural Center. We decided to celebrate Ty’s 39th birthday by taking the architectural river tour. It was a highlight of the trip. I’m in love with the architect Jeanne Gang who is widely recognized for the Aqua Tower, the tallest woman-designed building in the world at the time of its completion, since surpassed by the nearby St. Regis (the tall blue one below) also by her.
Monday May 23 – Another beautiful sunny day in Chicago. Ty had to work so the 3 of us headed downtown to see the Art Institute Chicago to take in the Ceyzanne exhibit as well as works by many well known names, Hopper, O’Keefe, Picasso, Magritte and more. Then we strolled through Millennial Park across the street.
Tuesday May 24 – This is our last full day in Chicago. Shaina had to work but lucky for us, she arranged for our use of a car. We drove north along Lake Shore Drive to see the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette. You cannot take photos inside but if you’re curious to learn about this spiritual path or to see this amazingly beautiful edifice check out their website. The evening ended with a lovely home cooked meal at Jim Frank’s home with another vegan couple. I’d met Jim before in Chicago. He’s a bread maker. And Spencer met Jim when he was in Seattle too.
Wednesday May 25 – We’ve so enjoyed our time in Chicago. I’ve commented on the extensive parks system here and today FB offered me a link to the Park Score listings for 2022. Chicago is #6 and Seattle #9. Impressive. We took a 2.5 mile stroll through the park across the street. They have a dedicated softball field for wheelchairs! How cool is that? And I’ve never seen French Lilacs before. They smell the same but look quite different, smaller, bushier and different leaves. We’re heading off to O’Hare soon. Thanks to Shaina & Ty for their magnificent hospitality.
PS – We left on a bus at noon, arrived at O’Hare 2+ hours before our 3:30 flight which should’ve been about 4 hours with an ETA in Seattle of 6 PM Pacific. Instead we experienced multiple delays due to tires needing replacing, and thunderstorms and tornado warnings. We arrived home at 11:30 PM Pacific! We were very glad we didn’t fly with those issues. And we really felt bad for the crew who’d started in Seattle that day and already had 15 hours under their belts before we left Chicago. They did give us each $12 vouchers for food while we waited, which doesn’t go far at an airport. We also received $150 each in credit should we fly with Alaska again within a year. Hopefully we’ll use that to do some cycling.
It’s always great to be home in your own bed. And living in community someone made sure to leave us “late plates” from Wednesday night’s dinner. Life is GOOD!