Feeling well rested after a good night’s sleep, I checked out of my hotel and drove back to Josh’s frat for a farewell brunch. It was an enjoyable morning. Josh was in a much better frame of mind. Maybe he was happy I was finally going home!
Around 11:00 A.M., my bladder realized it was time to hit the road and demanded that I stop at the bathroom every 15 minutes or so. This was so ridiculous. I would have thought it was mind over matter, but every time I made a pit-stop, it was like someone turned on a faucet full blast. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out why this always happened to me.
After saying good-bye to Josh and giving him a hug and a kiss (which thankfully he didn’t back away from) I took off. I barely made it to Indianapolis when Mother Nature called again. Luckily I found a Meijer Superstore on the main road and checked out their facilities. As I was leaving the store, it started raining. I could have lived without the downpour. As much as I wasn’t looking forward to driving in the storm, I kept praying that the temps would stay above 32 degrees so I wouldn’t have to deal with icy, slick roads. As Roseanne Rosanadanna, one of the characters Gilda Radner (may she rest in peace) played on Saturday Night Live used to say, ” It’s always something!”
For the next few hours, I focused on the traffic, the rain and the digital numbers on my dashboard that tracked the outside temperature. As I traveled further north toward Chicago, the readings gradually and steadily decreased. When 33’s and 32’s started appearing on the screen, I began to panic.
To take my mind off of this, I decided to plan a rest stop at Fair Oaks Farm in Fair Oaks, Indiana. About 45 minutes past Lafayette, and that much closer to home, it was the perfect place to take a break. On top of that, they had the most amazing ice cream I had ever tasted. Even though the weather wasn’t ideal for that special treat and I probably would have been frozen the rest of the way home, I was looking forward to indulging myself with that decadent delicacy. After all, I deserved it after braving the elements and hazardous road conditions.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, there it was! Like a mirage in the middle of the desert, seeing the exit for Fair Oaks was my oasis. I made it to my first destination and was almost back in Illinois! Giddy with excitement, I drove over to the farm. When I pulled into the parking lot, I was surprised to see a number of other cars there. Even on that blustery, frigid day, there were several others who unbelievably also had a craving for ice cream. Truth be told, the dairy sold a number of other homemade products including milk and an extensive variety of cheeses. Without a doubt, this was probably what attracted the crowd on that Sunday afternoon. To make myself feel like I wasn’t the only goofy person who would venture out on that cold, nasty day for ice cream, I liked to believe that others were doing the same.
Cookies and cream was the flavor I opted to try. While enjoying every savory mouthful of that creamy, smooth concoction, I strolled around the gift shop area admiring all the trinkets they had for sale. There were so many cute candles, magnets, plaques to hang on the wall, kitchen utensils and hand lotions. Then a display caught my eye that made me stop in my tracks. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I actually lost my appetite and became nauseous. Right in front of me were racks of paper products made from recycled cow manure. I was beyond stunned. I even asked another customer if this was real. She confirmed it was true. I thought to myself, I knew this was a farm, but wasn’t this taking things a little too far? I mean, weren’t there some things that were better left alone? Trying to regain my composure, I found some more unique gift items to admire, forced myself to finish my ice cream (I didn’t put up too much of a fight), went to the bathroom (that should have been obvious) and then braved the elements outside to make it back to my car to resume my journey back home.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful. When I pulled into my garage, my heart started thumping hard against my chest wall, a chill began creeping up and down my spine and trembling replaced the steadiness my hands enjoyed just moments earlier.
What would be awaiting me on the other side of the door? I dreaded finding out.