Friday, Miles 293 – 613.
Destination: Chicago.
Distance: 321 Miles

Operation Wedding:  1200 Miles in 5 Days
My cousin’s getting married in Chicago.  Game on. 

In what I can only hope, for your sake, is the very remote chance that you ever stop for lunch in Sturgis, Michigan, be sure to stop at Dan’s Family Restaurant.  If you’re over 80, I’m sure you’ve heard of it already.  Word gets around on The Facebooks, you know – Dan’s Family Restaurant has a discount for seniors that can’t be beat! 

Dan's Family Restaurant, Sturgis, Michigan

Dan's Family Restaurant, Sturgis, Michigan

Obviously the waitress, on the other hand, can be beat.  I say this not because the service was slow, or bad – it was fine.  I think our waitress had been beaten far too often, though – every other sentence was “I’m sorry!”  She apologized for everything, regardless of whether or not it was something she could control, up to and including the weather.  I think it was a defense mechanism built in from getting beaten too often by cane-wielding Q-tips wondering about the discount.  She held her own behind the counter, though:  “Mike, this says Chicken Tenders, not Chicken Wings – do I need to buy you a pair of glasses?  I’ll go buy you a pair of glasses if you need them!” 

It’s easy to get to Dan’s Family Restaurant, though.  All you need is a Betty. 

It’s also easy to tell when your kids have been hanging out with their Grandfather – anything with an automated voice system, like a GPS, gets named Bitchin’ Betty.  This stems from the early automated aviation advisory voices in Viet Nam-era aircraft (and continuing today) that would tell a pilot “Low on Fuel” or “Watch out for that Mountain.”  These days the iPhone will do the same thing, so in our car we had Dad’s GPS, in SOBUMD’s van we had her iPhone set for MapQuest, calling out the same set of

“Recalculating Route”
“Turn left, 2 miles” 
“Make a safe and legal U-Turn” 

All of which cause the kids to want to tell Bitchin’ Betty to shut up.   They figure poor Betty gets pretty tired of “Recalculating” every time we turn around.  We all got out of the cars at Dan’s Family Restaurant and the HTR piped up with, “Daddy, Bitchin’ Betty sounds pretty depressed.  I think she should try Cymbalta.”  Number One Son doesn’t miss a beat:  “Depression hurts, Daddy.  Cymbalta can help.”

Dear god, I *really* need to monitor what the hell they’re watching on television.  Also, I need my ears checked again; at first I thought they said she needed to take Cialis.  Which would probably also take Betty’s mind off recalculating the route for the 478th time, but I’d rather not explain that to the kids.

The best part of Bitchin’ Betty is the pinpoint accuracy of the iPhone/MapQuest application.  SOBUMD excused herself to the bathroom (“Excuse me, where’s the bathroom?”  “I’m sorry, it’s just down that hallway.”) and took her purse – I never know why, and I don’t want to.  In this case, though, she reports that as she was walking out of the stall, Betty piped up from her purse unexpectedly:  “Recalculating!” 

Now that’s an accurate system.  

We said our sad goodbyes to Sturgis and our lovely and apologetic waitress and climbed back in the saddles, driving through the settling lunch and setting sun until we reached our destination – Uncle Dan (no relation to the Restaurant) and Aunt Mary Ann’s house, which has Ivy.  Not ivy, Ivy.  Ivy is a Wheaten Terrier, which makes complete sense since they live a in suburb called Wheaton – I assume she came with the house.  Ivy and Number One Son, to the surprise of pretty much everyone including themselves, became close pals.  

A Dog and Her Boy

Ivy Meets Number One Son: A Dog and Her Boy

We had a wonderful time eating pizza and visiting with family that we never get to see often enough.  Number One Son met a dog who wasn’t too scary, jumpy, or annoying, and a great time was had by all.  I looked all around the house, but was unable to find the “Dorian Gray” painting of my Aunt, who looks like I’ve always remembered her – I don’t know how she does it, but she has not aged a day in at least 20 years.  Maybe the dogs do her aging for her.  Uncle Dan just looks more like himself; I’ve seen pictures of him when he was younger, and he looks like he’s waiting to grow into how he looks now.  My cousins look good and married well too – maybe there’s something in the genes; it’s just a good looking family all around.  Of course, they’re all related to me, so certainly that explains part of it. 

The next morning dawned with coffee and breakfast yummies, including pancakes that even the Reigning Queen of Pink couldn’t be allergic to, which was very sweet.  Mind you, she still didn’t eat them, but she *could* have, and that’s the point, really.  We eventually got dressed, loaded the car, and headed to the Death Star.

Next up:  Saturday:  Operation Wedding

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