Daniel’s dream vacation was to visit his mother, see the town he grew up in, and share this experience with his fiancé, Erin.
Daniel began planning his trip by talking with his mom to set a date, tracking down contact information for other relatives and – with the help of staff – check on covid restrictions at his mother’s assisted living facility. Erin asked off work, and together they began researching places to visit and things to do. They estimated the cost of the trip and made sacrifices to live their dream.
Daniel chose Mother’s Day weekend for the date of the trip—the perfect Mother’s Day gift. They planned to visit a Wisconsin cheese factory, walk along the Indiana Dunes, do some shopping, and be open to adventures on the road.
Daniel's mom and his aunt were overjoyed to see him and meet his fiance'. They shared memories of his childhood, and Erin was able to get to know her future mother-in-law. Daniel showered his mom with gifts, including roses, a necklace, and a gift card to the pizza place owned by his childhood neighbors.
On their trip, Daniel and Erin ate at a variety of unique restaurants, including a cute ice cream shop called the Icki Sticki. They tried some award-winning cheeses at The Alp and Dell Cheese Factory and explored the Cave of the Mounds. In addition to the Indiana Dunes, they also visited the light house at Michigan City and made an impromptu stop at an impressive veteran’s memorial.
One of the highlights for Daniel and Erin was a stop at a shopping mall in Rockford, Ill., where they bought Green Bay Packers jerseys and stuffed Pokémon characters at a Build-a-Bear workshop.
Daniel and Erin learned many things on their trip, including planning, budgeting and learning to be flexible. Larry, their staff who accompanied them, learned many lessons on this trip as well:
- Talk to strangers.
- Be generous; there is joy in giving your souvenir Chicago Bears gloves to the Bears-loving receptionist.
- Love your family even when they are not perfect.
- Other people’s opinions don’t matter—be yourself.
Daniel and Erin traveled 823 miles on their trip, which cost them nearly a month’s wages they had saved up. But their memories, they both agreed, were priceless.