A Travellerspoint blog

USA

Illinois

...middle america

15 °C

I was glad to leave for Illinois after the unexpected hassles of San Francisco. It was fun to see our friends and get back on the motorbikes, but I was ready to get out of there after 2 weeks.

After arriving in Chicago, we picked up a rental for the drive out to Kim’s homeland. If you ever want to visit, start driving south west from O’Hare airport, and keep going until you can’t go anymore…and then go about 5 more miles…and then you’ll get there. But don’t blink, or you’ll miss it and be driving through corn fields for eternity!

I jest, but it is sort of out there in the middle of nowhere! We checked into our hotel and went round to the family home where Kim’s dad still is…an idyllic spot of fields, trees and a pond. He cooked us up some amazing steaks from last years hunting exploits…I only wish we could’ve eaten there more over the week we were back rather than the culinary delights that can be found in the restaurants of the surrounding area (let’s just say if it ain’t deep fried you won’t find it!).

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"welcome home cake!"

We spent much of the week hanging out with her Dad, but her sister, Marcy’s family also came down for a few days. She has 2 adorable kids, Grace (2) and Emma (1) so I had at least 2 people on my level for the week, although seems I will be forever known as Mite in those circles as the “K” just isn’t in the vocab yet! (I have to say though, as with any kids, I was glad we could return them after a couple of days...nothing personal!!!)

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"Emma & Jeff"
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"Grace & Kim"
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"Grace & Pony!"

On the Saturday night (I think) that we were there, her Dad hosted a party at his place, where the rest of the family (Grandma, Kim’s mum) came out along with a whole load of friends from the area…it was great to meet/catch up with them all until the early hours of the morning. They are a real motorcycle/hunting/hippy crowd though and I have to say some of the conversations lost me, but Kim was able to keep up the translations for most of the time!

I managed to catch up with my friend and old work colleague, Kelli, who had a meeting an hour up the road, whilst I was there. It was great to catch up, I miss hanging out with a number of people from the old company…I have to say though I have no regrets about leaving…(who would! It’s a tough life swanning around the globe!!!)

The visit seemed to fly by…I felt a bit bad that we’d only scheduled in a week there and we had 3 weeks scheduled back in the UK…we will have to make up for it next time.

Onto England…

Posted by msmitheman 06:40 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Back Home...

semi-overcast 25 °C

The first leg of our trip ended with a few nights in Bangkok staying at the Hilton on the river front (I never thought I'd find a use for hotel points!!). It was a fun few days in a very busy city.

The flight back to San Francisco took us via Tokyo on United. I managed to get us upgraded to business class which I thought was going to make for a comfortable flight back, until Kim ate the eggs they served for breakfast just after we boarded and then proceeded to throw up for 14 hours. I always did have a problem with eggs on planes...a smell that I remember hasn’t changed since the flights of my childhood to Oman…it still makes me nauseous whenever they serve breakfast.

Anyway we arrived back in San Francisco on time although with some trepidation as we hadn’t heard from our elusive house sitter for a number of weeks.

Thankfully our good friends Peter & Brent had agreed to put us up for a couple of weeks in their palace of an apartment in the city, so as Kim was unwell and I wasn’t sure what to expect at our apartment we headed there and built our nest in their spare room. It is a beautiful apartment and I think seeing it only heightened my disgust when I finally walked into our place later that day.

Backing up a little, we had rented our place out to a “friend” whilst we were away. I use rented loosely as I basically asked for next to no money in return for the place being looked after…you know, difficult stuff like water the plants, start the car, vacuum the carpet.

Well after the first couple of weeks of being away we never heard from her again, and never received any of the little rent I’d asked for. I fully expected to return and find the place empty.

I should be so lucky…I’ll give you the highlights…

...when I walked in, there were boxes stacked all over the place (seems 3 months was actually too short to move her stuff in), our furniture had been stacked in the corner. I then suddenly realized that the place resembled a pet store…She’d moved a cat in, there was cat paraphernalia everywhere and the place stank, cat hair everywhere, and I don’t think the litter tray had been emptied in 3 months. Said cat also managed to scratch up the sofas in the living room and cupboards in the kitchen.

She had managed to break off the shower taps which were lying on the bathroom floor and had been replaced by a wrench…the smoke alarm was dangling off the wall…seems the battery was needed for something else…probably a toy for the cat. Stains on the carpet that I’m trying to convince myself were red wine and not cat related.

…the list goes on and on and we kept finding new surprises as we spent the next 3 days cleaning up. (If anyone can explain the purpose of a 2 inch crust of hardened, greasy baking soda in the bottom of the oven I’d be interested to hear it!).

I tell you, I can put up with quite a lot, but the place was disgusting and she didn’t seem to think anything was wrong so needless to say we booted her out there and then (the most enjoyable part of the whole proceeding!)

As I’ve mentioned we spent the next 3 days cleaning the place up which was pretty unpleasant. Kim convinced me to advertise the place again, which we did and were inundated with responses. We have since moved a girl our age into the place, who is a school teacher, who has house sat before and provided a pile of references, so fingers crossed this one will work out!

In addition to that I also had my truck broken into and the stereo stolen and a flat tire. Wasn’t a good week!

Thankfully staying with our friends gave us someone to laugh it all off with…well that and a few good bottles of wine and a few hours of home improvement TV (long story!!).

Peter and Brent also invited us up to their house in the Russian River, complete with hot tub, for the weekend, which was an amazing retreat and made for a much pleasanter end to our visit. We ate and drank well, including a batch of “red velvet” cup cakes baked by Kim…I do believe that I’m owed one though…I thought the deal was 5 each and I don’t believe Leo (the dog) ate my last one…Peter!

Posted by msmitheman 18:57 Archived in USA Comments (0)

on our way...

sunny
View Mike & Kim's Trip on msmitheman's travel map.

Finished work on Friday and we hit the road tomorrow night.

Kim's packed, I haven't yet! The apartment is all straight which is good.

Last night was the "going away party" at the Irish Bank in San Francisco. A lot of people turned up which was nice and much Guinness was consumed (mostly by us two I think).

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We leave late tomorrow for the Philippines and have 2 nights booked in Manila. We're splashing out on our first couple of nights staying at the Cocacabana Hotel in Pasay.

http://www.copasuites-manila.com/index.php

We leave Manila on the 6th June to fly to Ho Chi Minh City. We've also booked the first couple of nights there as we arrive in the middle of the night and will be staying at Madam Cuc's guest house!! Realiably informed that this is a nice backpacker hotel in the city. We will see! This will be the last expensive hotel we stay in...$10 a night for the 2 of us, although I'm not too upset as its in the center of the city and does include the pick up from the airport, breakfast and dinner!

Posted by msmitheman 06:36 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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