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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Last night I watched Enchanted, one of my favorite movies to watch.  It’s one of those movies that when it’s on, I can’t help myself.  The movie reminds me a lot of Frank.  No, it’s not because Frank channels Patrick Dempsy with his dashing good looks and pragmatic approach to life.  Nor is it because Frank often introduces me the way Prince Edward introduces Giselle – “Giselle is my love, my heart’s one true desire!”

Enchanted reminds me of a truly K-Fam Thanksgiving experience.  Back in November 2007 Frank was a jet Captain on the Dornier at the now defunct Skyway Airlines.  As per usual, Frank was at the bottom of the seniority list, meaning that he was working holidays.  I decided that I would accompany him over Thanksgiving on his trips so that we could spend Thanksgiving together.  On Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, we went to Cleveland. Skyway actually put the pilots up in a somewhat decent hotel which was close to a very nice mall.

One of Frank’s favorite things to do is walk around a mall. This is surprising because he does NOT like to shop.  He enjoys stopping at stores that have nice smells or kitschy items with limited uses (ie. Brookstone, Spencers).  We walked around the mall for a while and then decided to go see the movie Enchanted. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I remember walking out of the theater holding Frank’s hand, feeling light and free.  We had dinner at the Macaroni Grill and drew fun pictures on the paper table cloth and enjoyed being together.

The next day, Thanksgiving, we flew back to Milwaukee and then up to Appleton.  We stayed at the Raddison Paper Valley in downtown Appleton.  We arrived at the hotel at 2:30 in the afternoon and saw, to our amazement, a huge Thanksgiving buffet set out!  Victory!  We approached the hostess stand, all of our bags in tow, and asked the hostess for details on the buffet.  She told us they were taking it down.  Oh, the looks on our faces!  We pleaded with her – can we just go through once and get some Thanksgiving food – we are far from home and won’t get a real Thanksgiving!  Nope.  She wouldn’t budge.  As we walked by the buffet on the way to our room, we watched them throwing out entire cakes and pies.  Oh, how we wanted to weep right there!

Slightly disheartened, but determined to have a lovely Thanksgiving anyway, we went to the hotel bar, hoping that they may have some Thanksgiving fare.  No such luck.  I think Frank had a hamburger and I had a chicken sandwich.  Regardless of the lack of Thanksgiving themed food, we had a wonderful time watching football in the bar and talking with his First Officer.

Later that night, we decided that we wanted dessert, but room service didn’t have anything good, so we found a vending machine and shared a Three Muskateers bar and a Rice Krispy Treat.  Oh, it was bliss!  Almost like having French Silk Pie… but not quite…

It is one of my happiest memories of us.  We had such a nice time celebrating Thanksgiving together and I am so glad we did it!  Considering that Frank is back at the bottom of the seniority list again, perhaps we will try the adventure again this year, but maybe in a more exotic location, like LA or Puerto Rico!

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Frank and I went downtown and took a self-guided Devil in the White City Tour.  The statue below is 1/3 the size of the original statue that greeted guests at the 1893 World’s Fair.  Interesting facts: The Museum of Science and Industry building is an exact replica of one of the many World’s Fair buildings (if you’ve been there, you know how huge it is), and the Ferris Wheel debuted at the World’s Fair in direct competition with the Eiffel Tower which had been unveiled at a previous World’s Fair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drove around a little bit, too…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank looking for the next stop on our historic journey.  Or our journey of historic proportions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We actually drove by President Obama’s house, but this is all you can see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a lovely city we live in:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is all. For now. 🙂

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vegas

We interrupt our regularly scheduled emotional roller coaster for a brief recap of our adventures in Vegas.

Day 1:

My mom arrived at 6:15 a.m. to take me to the airport.  She’s a peach.  She watched me give myself my trigger shot and then helped me wipe off the dripping blood and gently confirmed that I gave myself the shot in the vein and “man, it’s already bruising!”  Awesome. Uneventful (blood-free) time at the airport.  Had a snack.  Got on the plane.  Mechanical issue.  Lovely. Had some soda (delish).  Arrived in Vegas.

First of all, Vegas wants your money.  If you didn’t know that about Vegas, they make it apparent the minute you step off of the plane.  “Emmmmily – oh, Emmmmmily!  Come play our slots!  Your bags are going to take a while – have  a seat, get out some quarters and let the good times roll!”

My will power was too much for them.  I walked past the slot machines with hardly a backward glance.  Hardly.

I picked up my bags at the carousel, called Frank and got on a shuttle to the Bellagio.  Arrived at the Bellagio, found husband, changed, went on a mission for food.  Emily was VERY hungry.  Mmmm.

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Then we proceeded to walk most of the strip, all the way up to the Venetian.  This is one place where one block of walking equals 12 blocks.

We saw 10,234 slot machines on our little adventure.

The below picture is us being awesome at the Venetian.

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The nice thing about the Venetian: indoors and air conditioned.  Dry heat is still heat, my friends.  Don’t give me crap about dry heat when it is 105 degrees outside.  Heat is heat.

I was glowing (or perspiring like a mo-fo).

After our sweaty trek, we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.  Because we are connoisseurs of the buffet, we were naturally looking forward to tables and tables of meat and cheese and other delightful confections.  First stop: the Wynn Buffet.

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This picture is me trying not to be too obvious about how hungry I am.  This is at the atrium of the Wynn hotel.  It was my favorite hotel in Vegas, hands down.

And this picture, well, this is me preparing to eat my husband for dinner.  And I don’t mean it like that.  Well, maybe I do.  You tell me: is this a “come hither” look or is it a “I want my dinner” look?
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Finally, after 45 minutes of hoping and dreaming and praying that we would one day be at the front of the line – we were!  Eureka!

Our delight over our first meal resulted in two of the only food photos of the trip, but I am not going to post those here.  I don’t want anyone to be jealous (and also, Frank didn’t upload them to our Flickr account – dirty!!)

Then we walked back from the Wynn and decided to try to take in a very scandelous free show outside of Treasure Island.  Lots of gyrating female and male dancers in skimpy clothing.  Good thing people brought their kids.  “Hey kids, look what you can be when you grow up!”  Awesome.

Anyway – here is me outside of the Wynn.  Love. It.

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And ladies, don’t get jealous – he is all mine:
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Then we stopped at the Bellagio to take in the famous fountain display. For a desert, that sure was a lot of water.

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And then… bed time.  Cuz we party like rockstars, yo.

Day 2:

Got up, tried to go for a run.  While Vegas is a town that accepts only beautiful people (naturally attained or otherwise), they sure don’t want to do a lot to help you get beautiful.  Because when you are running on a treadmill, you can’t play the slots.  And if you are not drinking or gambling, they are not making money.

What I am trying to say is that the fine folks at the Bellagio wanted us to pay $50 for both of us to use their fine workout facilities.

No. Thanks.

Instead, I opted to sit at the pool and consider life. And read a saucy romance novel.

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And here we are together, hanging out by the pool. Frank is trying not to angry about the lack of frosty beverages in his hand.
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Once we were finished with being awesome poolside, we decided to enjoy yet another buffet. Mmmm.

And then we walked the strip.  In the Dry Heat.  Not so dry when you’re sweating through your socks, though.

Which leads us to Caesar’s Palace.  “Caesar, let’s go that way!” “No, Frank and Emily, let’s go THAT way!” Well, the Roman empire is no more, so I guess we all know how it turned out. Should have listened to us, Mr. Caesar.

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Frank asked the Egyptian Santa for a flat screen TV for Christmas. We will see if Egyptian Santa delivers.   (I’m not betting on it – he looked a little shady)

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And then, in the middle of the desert, we have the NYC skyline:
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Later that night, after I showered (again), we went out to the Palms.  The Palms was very cool.  We went up to the Playboy Club (which was more tame (visually speaking) than any of the casino bars, by far) and had a cocktail.  Then we headed over to the other tower of the Palms and went up to the Ghostbar, which was Frank’s favorite bar of all.  He was giddy with excitement.  Giddy.  I’m not kidding.  Have you ever seen Frank giddy?  Well, I have.  This is what it looks like:

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I know. I wish he’d just calm down.
And here are more pics of Vegas from that night:
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Day 3
The Grandest Canyon of them all. And probably the best day of our trip. I loved, loved, loved it. Except for the part where I almost puked. And the part where we got stuck in the rain. But whatever – a small price to pay, in my opinion.  I’d do it all over again (but with an umbrella).

Our airplane:
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The Hoover Dam (ha ha):
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A view from the ground:
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“Emily, look off into the distance at the other side of the Grand Canyon, really feel it. Work it. Noice.”
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We were RIGHT. THERE. We were here, and the Grand Canyon was right THERE. Whoa.
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Oh, and then it rained.
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But the storms made for some cool views on the way back.
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Tired, mostly dry (but a little wet), we made our way back to our hotel.

Because seeing one of the most magnificient wonders of God’s creation wasn’t enough for one day, we also went to see Cirque du Soleil’s “O”. “O” is the phonetic speaking of the french word “Eau” which means “water.” (Not sure why I used all the quotes, but really – if you stayed with me this long, you probably don’t care. You probably just want me to end this torturous play-by-play of our vacation and put you out of your misery. Quotes are the least of your problems if you made it this far.) Anyway, the point being, the stage was water. Or, more accurately, it was a pool with an adjustable floor that went up and down depending on the scene.

“O” reminded me of two things: 1) I am not flexible. The most daring feat I accomplish is touching my toes. Touching my toes while balancing on the forehead of a woman who is balancing all of her weight on her big toe, which is securely placed on a trapeze – well, that’s why they made the Darwin Awards. 2) I am a spoiled brat. After the first two amazing sequences where people were swinging through the air, attached to another human being by only the friction created by their leg hair and their abnormally strong big toes, I started to be less impressed with, say, diving off of a several story platform, into a pool of water. I can barely bring myself to jump into a pool from the side, much less a diving board SEVERAL stories in the air.

My own personal guilt aside, it was a beautiful show. I really enjoyed it.

Day 4:

Went home.

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And I’m spent.  Thanks for reading about our Vegas adventure!

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oh yeah…

one of the musician-types I sat next to on the way home played in a band called the blood arm.  Interestingly, she recently was injured in a freak candle holder accident that cut through her quad through to the bone and had to have surgery to repair her muscle, etc.  She showed me a picture.  It was gruesome.  So the blood arm band girl was more of a bloody leg.  Sweet.

rock.

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sweet home, chicago

Well, we are back from our Vegas extravaganza.  We came out ahead of the casinos (by about $50 – hey, better than in the hole $50!) and had a delightful time together.

I will write up a detailed, day-by-day report as soon as I get pics back from Frank.  Some things just can’t be explained with mere words.

General thoughts:

  • I would definitely go back to the Grand Canyon.  The pictures do not do justice to what it feels to be a tiny human standing at the edge of this natural phenomenon.
  • The Bellagio is lovely, but over-rated.  More on that later.  Suffice to say: Frank and I did not think that it was worth $100 to pay to work out.  Seriously, the gym was not included as part of the stay.
  • Buffets are awesome.
  • O (Cirque du Soleil) was amazing.  The imagery, colors, stunts, choreography, athleticism, music and overall experience were mind bending.  I have been practicing touching my toes and hopes that I might be able to stand still with the same grace and poise (unlikely, but worth the effort).
  • Grand Canyon – awesome.
  • Flight to the Grand Canyon – not as awesome.   Small Plane + Hot + Bumpy + Thunderstorms = Not happy times. I did not puke, I will have you know.  The girl in front of me was not so lucky.
  • Learned, during our Grand Canyon aviation experience that when Frank says, “Are you sick?” and I say, “Yes,” and he says, “Do you need a sick sack?” and I say, “No,” that we are miscommunicating.  Sick to me means feeling nauseated and having a head ache and the world is spinning.  Sick to Frank means “I am going to vomit.”
  • In sort of a experiential cliche, I sat next to two musicians/wannabe musicians on the way home from LAX.  Dude.
  • Grand Canyon – still awesome.  If you haven’t seen it, go see it.  Stop reading this post and start driving/flying to it.
  • I’m serious.  Grand Canyon.   It is both Grand and Canyon-y.
  • I always smile when I end a trip without exposing my dirty underwear at the baggage claim.  It stems from a childhood incident wherein my family’s luggage ripped apart en-route home from Orlando.  Our bag rounded the corner of the carousel, underwear laid out for the world to see.  At first we chuckled, not realizing it was our bag.   And then, horror of horrors, we realized that those panties hanging out were OUR panties.  NO!  Dad yanked the bag off of the carousel and tried to remedy the situation by taking off his belt and wrapping it around the suitcase.  Too small.  I don’t know what he eventually did.  I just know the car ride home was silent as we were all stricken by the experience.  So to say that I managed to end yet another vacation without sharing my blue and white polka dot undies with the fine folks at ORD, that is a big deal.

It’s good to be back home.  Thanks to Andy for the ride home tonight.  You’re  a fabulous brother.  (who I convinced to go on a 2 mile run with me at 9:30 am Saturday).

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running & frank is home

Ok, so I did NOT get my 2 mile run in this morning.  I opted, instead, to sleep in.  I feel that it was a wise decision.

And I am psyched for my 2 mile run this evening, with FK.  I am really going to push myself to run faster than I have, since this is now becoming a “short” distance for me.

Did I mention that FK is home?  Only for 24 hours, but hey, I’ll take what I can get!

And next week, Vegas!  YES!

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MDW to ATL to MDW

… and in just about a 24 hour time period…

I met up with Frank in ATL at about 7 pm last night. We changed out of our travelin’ clothes and went to the east side of ATL for some delish pizza (sausage + spinace + garlic + tomatoes) and some refreshing icecream.

We sat outside of a bar/restaurant called…. the Vickery, I think?? No bugs (how is that possible?) and delightful weather. Not too hot. Not too cold. Lovely.

Our dear friend Vimal joined us for a nice cold beer and some chatter about this and that. Which was mostly a deep discussion of the innerworkings of the pilot manual (“See now, if you do this check list before you taxi, you will ultimately FORGET to take off, which is a problem. We’ve written MANY emails to the Chief Pilot and he always responds with, ‘Good to know.’ It’s amazing how many flights are going from Atlanta to Orlando via the interstate highway…”) My contribution to the chatter? “So, uh, do you guys listen to ‘Highway to the Danger Zone’ when you take off? Does your captain ever call you Goose?”

We went back to the crash pad and watched “Chuck” – our new favorite show! Love it so much! The lovely folks at Crew Scheduling provided a truly wonderous wake up call at 10 a.m., letting Frank know that his amazing flying skillz were needed at 5pm. A full seven hours notice prior to a flight is always appreciated.

Frank is such a good pilot that they let him sit in the back with the passengers on his way up to Baltimore. So, he rode up to Baltimore and then will fly the plane back tomorrow morning. For kicks, they are sending him up to Flint, MI after that and then back down to Atlanta… and then he comes home!!! NO WAY!

Anyway, it was nice to have an uneventful trip back to MDW. I didn’t get on the 2:30 pm flight (way over-booked), but I got on the 4:45 pm flight AND was seated in business class. Hello, complimentary cookies/granola bars/beer & wine!

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