On yet ANOTHER work adventure, I ended up in Chicago, Illinois for a tradeshow. My parents live a mere 5.5 hours away, so they decided to come up and spend Saturday with me, take me to downtown Chicago, and to see the show Wicked.
We visited the Navy Pier where I had the best jalapeno cheddar pretzel of my life, rode a ferris wheel, and witnessed the beautiful Chicago skyline from the water's point of view. Barnelli's is the lucky locale we chose for lunching (the pizza shown is actually Giordano's - my dinner the next night).
Despite all their visits to the area, my parents had never ventured up the Sears Tower, so I talked them into it and up we went! I got the first of hours of horrible phone calls from work while I was up there, but the situation is all better now (they know it wasn't my doing) and I'd like to forget it ever happened (except the lessons I learned to keep it from happening again). Wicked was awesome, after I had recouperated from the several hours of crying and feeling like a worthless excuse for a human being. Hard to believe that just those couple of things took all day! Oh, we also passed on a square downtown a whole setup for an outdoor viewing of the movie Goonies - how cool is that?
The next part of my escapade took me to Mattoon. Would you believe that I got on facebook to brag to a friend I would be near his hometown when I saw on his very page that he and his wife/my friend were living in a town right along my way! So, I got to see another couple of friends (and their darling baby girl Clarissa) whom I haven't seen in 4 years! They took me all around Champaign and even took me to my favorite grocery store to get my favorite ice cream in the whole wide entire world - Meijer Peanut Butter Fudge.
After my hotel kicked me out...they actually just made me check out and allowed me to stay 2 hours later than I was supposed to...I had four hours to kill in the middle of nowhere. What's a girl to do?
I visited Gays, Illinois six miles away. Yes, that's right. The population sign as you enter says: Gays 300. Wait, it gets better. The local church is called "Gays Christian church." Wait, even better. The main tourist attraction in that booming town of 300 is a two-story outhouse built in 1857. Oh yes, I mean, seriously....does it get better than that?!?! I was also right next to an Amish country which I unfortunately didn't have time to visit.
I headed straight from my meeting in Mattoon to Cincinnati where my little sister currently abides. She just moved there about two weeks ago, so I felt super cool to get to spend the night (even though I didn't arrive until practically 2 am). We slept in then headed out to see my older sister, Shanda's, new baby girl Braelin.
No one in my family knew I was coming except for Brit! I am so sneaky!
Shanda didn't answer her phone, so we started to go in (Brit has a key). Shanda opened the door looking shaky and started forcefully telling Brit she just about got herself punched, then without even taking a breath she looked at me and said, "What are you doing here?!?!" She was excited - yeah!
I got to hold Braelin and talk with my sissy's for a couple of hours, then headed off to Mom's to surprise her. I walked into her front office holding a peach rose and she looks up for a couple seconds before her jaw dropped and I got another, "What are you doing here?!?" Success!
I called Dad to tell him I was "on my way home" (he thought in Utah) and he said he was on his way home from work - I had driven by his work and he wasn't there. So, I hid the Jeep Commander in the back field and went inside. I remembered at that point in time that my dad likes to...hmm...karate chop when he gets scared. As he was getting out of his car, I opened the door while holding some ice cream and yelled "I thought I should have some ice cream with you before I left!" I got yet a third, "What are you doing here?!?" Three for three!
Shanda brought Max and Braelin over a little later and we all sat and talked for a couple of hours as we ate our Cassano's pizza. I played in the field with the horses and kitties and Max for awhile too:-)
I went to bed and all-too-soon the new day began. Mom and I had some breakfast at Bob Evans, then it was off to work for her and off to the airport for me.
One day at home wasn't quite long enough, but it was a free trip, a GREAT sneaky surprise on my part, and I'll be back for the holidays for an entire week.
Now, I am back in SLC to my quiet, spacious apartment - just me and my little kitty. Oh - and Gold's Gym - I'm coming back to you tonight, baby!