Thursday, December 17, 2009

Contest Central Fridays - December 18 - 25

Are you hosting a giveaway, a contest, a scavenger hunt, a chance to win something?  Let the blogging community know about it.  This is the "Farmers Market" of contests.  If you are hosting a contest of any kind and want to spread the word, just sign up using MckLinky.

Where MckLinky asks for the title, please type what you are giving away, the deadline date and if the contest is Int (international) or US/Canada.
Example:  $25 Gift Card to GameCentral (12/30) Int

Include the URL to the specific post of the contest or giveaway.

WHAT a Trip! Part Two - The Drive Home

We flew into Chicago on Wed. night, Dec. 2.  Arrived at our hotel near midnight because our flight went from Salt Lake City to Phoenix and then to Chicago.  Who schedules these strange flight patterns?!  We ended up being delighted because we sat next to Bernadette who works in Phoenix and was flying home to Chicago to see her mother before a vacation in Aruba.  We enjoyed visiting with her and sharing our views on such varied topics as illegal immigrants, civil rights, snowbirds, President Obama and Chicago sights and restaurants.  The time went by so quickly.

We pricelined a lovely hotel in downtown Chicago - Embassy Suites.  It had a sitting room with couch, table, chairs and tv, a little kitchen area and a bedroom with another sink and a second tv.  It made a cozy 'home' for our 3 nights and 2 days in Chicago.

The day after we made our airplane reservations and the day before flying out of SLC, Candleman received a notice for jury duty.  He called from Chicago on Thursday evening and was told by recorded message that he needed to be in court the coming up Monday.  YIKES!  We thought about calling the court but in Utah they are closed on Fridays.  There was nothing to do but to drive from Chicago to Utah in 2 days.  It can be done but we really wanted to go a bit more leisurely.  I was hoping we'd be able to stop in Lincoln for a visit with Les.  Every time I get to Lincoln, which is has only been three times now, I like to drive past our old neighborhood.  I've pointed out the old stomping grounds to Candleman - the flagpole, park, Hawthorne and Millard Lefler schools, Golds Department Store, the favorite swimming pools and our house.  Les and memory lane were not going to fit into our plans this trip.  Can you imagine my sad face?

We woke very early on Saturday morning because we knew it was going to be a long day of driving.  Met the airport shuttle at  7, rented a car at the airport and drove to Galena, Illinois where we were going to pick up Kristi's postal car.  See earlier post for more details.  The drive to Galena was beautiful even though it was and there was no snow.  We both were grateful for the opportunity to drive on the back road and hope we get the chance again.  After making the transaction Candleman got his first experience driving a right sided steering car on the right side of the road.  I was driving the rental car while he followed me to the Dubuque airport.  We were quite apprehensive of driving all the way home in this "weird" car.  I kept thinking how weird it was going to be looking to my right instead of left to see my husband behind the wheel.

Little did we know that the driving situation was going to be no big deal compared to the temperature situation.  Luckily, Saturday the sun was shining and the nationwide cold freeze had not hit yet.  I was aware of an opening on my side of the vehicle that blew cold air right on my shins.  We stopped a bought two lap blankets with pillows to stuff down there.  Things got worse when the sun went down and we didn't have the greenhouse effect in our favor.  We discovered the heater didn't work very well.  With the temp and fan turned all the way up and the setting on heater, we were able to get something close to warm blowing out of the windshield vents.  If we tried any other setting we got blasted with cold air on our bodies.

I wanted to stop real bad but Candleman thought we should push on until we couldn't stand it any more.  Thankfully, he didn't have a hole on his side, but it was still very chilly.  Finally, we stopped for the night in North Platte.  I couldn't believe we had made it so far on the same day we had to deal with renting a car, buying a car and trying to find the rental car place in Dubuque.

I'm so glad Candleman pushed us on because Sunday was overcast and cold.  Luckily, the record snowfalls didn't start up until Monday.  We saw the sun for a few minutes just before sunset somewhere north of Baggs, WY.  We relished those minutes!  Another stop for a sleeping bag and some of those chemical hand warmers helped.  Candleman put a hand warmer in each wool sock he bought and then slipped them over the pair I was wearing.   I wondered what people thought as they saw us bundled in our coats with earmuffs and gloves inside our car.  At one point we passed a bald man without a coat driving on the freeway and comment on how warm he looked.

It was quite an experience, but not horrible.  We contemplated what the pioneers had to go through without freeways, sleeping bags, hand warmers, and no hope of finding a warm restaurant in the next city.  We were in an enclosed vehicle traveling 70 mph on paved, split roads and our winter experience would only last 2 days not months.  I can't even imagine what hardships they had to face.  How did they do it?

Kristi is not going to use the car until after the Christmas postal pounding so she has time to get the heater fixed.  After that, I think she'll really like her car.  It drove well and the seats were very comfortable.

All in all, we are thankful for the experiences we had in that short 5 days.  I was thrilled that Candleman was there by my side to enjoy it all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

WHAT a Trip! Part One

Our grand adventure started with the news that our daughter purchased a postal car over the internet.  She is a rural postal carrier in our community.  Rural carriers must provide their own means of transportation though they are reimbursed in milage and wear.  The company she bought the car from would ship it to her for $1700 - a fair price, but Candleman & I could see an opportunity so we told her we could deliver it to her for $1000. 

With our plane tickets paid we flew to Chicago a day and a half later.  I admit I was a bit reluctant at first - Chicago in December was apt to be cold, but then I thought about seeing the holiday decorations and was excited.  We were fortunate that our trip was a few days before the extreme cold hit Chicago and the nation.  Temps were in the 30s both Thursday and Friday.  We dressed warmly, bought some wonderful earmuffs in Chicago and rode the tour bus to our major destinations.

Our first morning, I slept in.  Good grief!  We enjoyed lunch at Macey's Walnut Room.  That was such a delightful experience that we ate lunch there again on Friday.  We loved the hot chocolate, the Swedish meatballs and, of course, the Frango mint chocolate cheesecake.  It was fun seeing the beautiful architecture and Tiffany vaulted ceiling in Maceys.

We walked over to Daley Plaza where they had a German Christkindl village - little shops that sold ornaments, food, clocks, etc.  We bought a pair of mittens for our youngest daughter.  After riding the tour bus for the rest of its loop we enjoyed a Chicago hot dog at Portillos.

Friday, after our lunch at Maceys we went to the Chicago Aquarium.  Fabulous!  Our bus tour person, Rosetta, told us about this excellent Irish Pub, so we went there for dinner.  Candleman was hoping for bangers and mash, but they were having a big Christmas party so we went to the Hard Rock and shared a chicken fajita dinner.  Rosetta also told us about the great mayonaise chocolate cake at Portillos and since it was across the street we indulged.  I'm not a cake lover, but their cake was delicious.  We sat in Portillos for over an hour visiting and enjoying the friendly, happy atmosphere.  We loved our time in Chicago.  What a city!  Can't wait to go back.  We've visited in July and December, so next time needs to be in spring or fall.

My recommendations (based on my minimum personal experience):
*Ride the Chicago Trolley Hop On Hop Off City Tours and keep your fingers crossed that you get Rosetta as your tour guide.
*Visit Maceys downtown after listening to the audio tour that you can find online.  Eat in the Walnut Room.  There was a 20-minute wait the first day, but they had us in our seats in less than 10.
*Take the Chicago architecture boat tour.
*Try a hot dog at Portillos.  And the chocolate cake!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Off to the Windy City and I are flying to Chicago to pick up a postal vehicle for our daughter.  Luckily we won't be driving around Chicago with a right-side steering wheel as we won't pick it up until after leaving Chicago, but we will be driving it from Dubuque along I-80 through Lincoln and Denver.  Should be quite the experience!

I have had a busy month and haven't posted faithfully.  I'm behind 4 or 5 or 6 reviews.  I am taking an ARC to read on the plane, but I'm also taking a crossword puzzle book.  Never know what kind of mood I'll be in so I better be prepared.  Also, have the iPod for some soft background music if Candleman dozes off.

We're hoping the roads will be good - big hope for this time of year, I know.  Looking forward to seeing the Christmas decorations and lights in Chicago, visiting the German village that will be set up downtown and of course, I'm looking forward to visiting Macey's and buying some Frango mints.

I have updated Friday's Contest Central even though there won't be a post on this blog.  Click on the tab at the top of my blog to check out the latest contests.  Also, I will be skipping Blogging Around the States this week, but will, hopefully, post one next Sat.  I have some fun people I am looking forward to interviewing and some who have already been interviewed.

I'm leaving my computer at home.  A decision made easier because we are traveling light and I only want to have one carry on and my purse.  I hope they believe that bag is indeed my purse!

Best wishes to you all as you prepare for the holiday season.  I was hoping we'd get some outside lights up this weekend, but it's not to be.  I'm not complaining too loudly - I'd take a trip to Chicago (or just about anywhere) in exchange for outside lights.