Okay, so now to what actually happened.
This was an extended weekend of sorts. We had a lot we wanted to accomplish so we had to get an early start. This year the reunion was in Illinois. My parents have very close friends there so we used this as an opportunity to spend some time with them. On Tuesday afternoon we loaded up the rental car and headed out. Funny thing is our neighbors thought we purchased a new family vehicle:
So we started our seemingly 12 hour journey, however we had something up our sleeves. My mom, husband, brother, and I had preplanned to stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and surprise my dad as an early birthday gift. After driving about 7 hours we told my dad that we were going to get a hotel room overnight because if we kept going we would get to our friends house in the middle of the night and we didn't want to disturb them at that hour. We also used the excuse that we thought it would take a lot longer because I expected to make way more bathroom stops. So we got a hotel (that just so happened to be a mile from the gas station we stopped at), checked in and had dinner at a nearby Outback Steakhouse. The TV's at dinner was showing info for that weekend's upcoming HOF induction. It was perfect! My dad said he would like to go there one day but he never thought to plan a trip there because he felt there was nothing to do besides go to the HOF then go home. In actuality there are a ton of things to do in and around Ohio including the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame and the Canton Classic Car museum. So, the next morning we had breakfast (included in the hotel room rate), checked out, and hit the road. When we pulled into the HOF parking lot and my dad realized where we were going- it was priceless. My parents aren't excitable people but his reaction said it all... he was excited!
After the HOF we hit the road again and we still had one more surprise (for my dad) up our sleeves. We also gave my dad and Ipad 2 which he has been talking about for months now. At one point I thought he might kill over and die if he didn't go out and get one. The only thing stopping him from purchasing himself one is that the company he works for and their union was in contract negotiations and he didn't want to spend unnecessary money in case they went on strike. His new man toy kept him occupied for the rest of our journey.
My brother and I are huge Micheal Jackson fans. Have been since we were little and always will be. So my husband (who was the brains behind all of our surprises) suggested we stopped at MJ's birthplace since we had to drive through Indiana anyway. It turns out that his childhood home is only about 3 miles from the highway road so it wouldn't be too much of a deviation. My brother figured out where we were going when we took the exit that said 'Gary, Indiana... that way' but he was excited too nonetheless. I tried desperately to distract him so wouldn't see the exit sign but it didn't work... at all.
It's no secret that Gary, IN isn't the richest town in the world but I definitely expected more. When we pulled up even my brother said "So where is it?"
I expected there to be a tour guide, a parking lot where you had to pay $10 for 30 minutes and slew of other things. There wasn't. In fact I'm not sure if you can actually go into the home. The lawn is very well maintained and there was lots of mementos and things- it was all very sort of ... peaceful.
This year's theme was Denim & Diamonds. Friday evening welcome reception was so much fun. This year the hosts planned activities where you earn 'diamond dollars'. So after each event you completed you earned a certain amount of dollars for that event. At the end of the weekend all the dollars earned were pooled together and names were randomly chosen to win a first, second, and third place prize. The first event for Friday was a puzzle. The hosts had cut up various boxes of food products and we had to put it back together. This was a really inexpensive way (provided you eat those foods) to get everyone working together as a team.