So I think last time I wrote I was in Canada (ay :p), which was amazing (be warned, I'm going to be using that word a lot!). SerenityBlue is a kind soul - it was so nice staying with her! One day we went down to Toronto's Chinatown, and had a look around - had lunch. The chicken chow mein was a bit icky, but the sweet and sour pork was nice (I can't believe I got that in TORONTO!) Another day I got to meet up with Jessibud, which was awesome! She brought me TWO Michael Morpurgo books from my wishlist :D <3 Possibly the coolest thing we did was drive down to the Niagara Falls. Now that is AMAZING! Serenity and her friend that drove us had both been on all the tourist attractions, but I got to go on the Maid of the Mist boat that takes you right up to the falls. Wow. I can't imagine what they would be like if all the water going down the river went over the falls (only about 40% I think is going over it right now - the rest gets diverted for power I believe).
After Toronto, I headed to Columbus, Ohio, to visit with Buffra. Getting through the US border control was a lot easier than getting through the Canadian equivalent, somehow! The guy even remarked on how organised I was LOL! I was especially impressed at the bus driver who made sure everyone was back on the bus before leaving! The rest of the bus trip was fairly uneventful, apart from one cop who got on the bus in Cleveland I think, and asking everyone if they were from America. Obviously I said no, and so he asked to see my passport...I showed it to him, and then started to freak out, because he kept looking at my work visa (which of course had expired some time earlier) - he thought I was there illegally (which is ridiculous, even if I didn't have the other visa, I was still in my 30 days grace period to get out of the country!) Luckily another cop got on and pointed out the NEW visa I'd received that day.
Columbus was fun - Buffra had to work most days, but it was nice to get a chance to relax, and hang out on the computer! She took one day off and we went to a nice outside mall and window shopped. My favourite thing was the sparkly coloured sugar in a cooking shop. Seriously cool! We also went and got buckeye sundaes at Graeters - yummy but oh so rich! Friday evening we drove up to her Uncle and Aunt's cabin on a lake and stayed the night there. There was an amazing sunset over the lake as we drove in. We had a fire in the fire pit and then got in the hot tub :D
The next morning we left early so she could drop me at my friend's place in Kent, and then get back to work on time. It was great to see Theresa again (friend from camp) - she'd just got back from a trip to Canada with some other camp friends, so we got to gossip about that. We went to a pet store and cuddled with the kittens (not sure why, she has the most gorgeous cat called Bagheera who is SO cute!). We also hung out with another camp friend, Keira. Oh, and they showed me where the students protesting the invasion of Cambodia in the Vietnam War were killed.
One day we drove in to Cleveland to explore, which was cool. We had lunch at a really nice vegetarian place, and then went to this awesome toy store, which had a range of kids and adults (not those kind of adult toys!) toys. They had one of those photo booths, so all three of us crammed ourselves into one a couple of times to take photos. LOTS of fun! I also bought some mad libs...which I've yet to find in New Zealand :( Then we drove to Little Italy and bought pastries...which were amazingly yummy! Drove back to Kent, and then decided to go have dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse in Akron. Which was delicious :D
The next day I got on a bus to Chicago, which was completely uneventful - apart from it being the FIRST Greyhound bus I'd been on that arrived on time! Tzurriz and JFroebe had been kind enough to say I could stay at their place, and even though it was Labour Day, and they were hosting a party, Jason came to pick me up (for which I'm still grateful!). After a short wait we eventually found each other, and we drove back to their house. There I was greeted by lots of Rebecca's family, including Miriam who was still awake after having been fed orange soda by Jason! They fed me delicious food and by the time I was done, most of the family had left. Once the rest had left, we all headed to bed.
The next day we went to Target (I got much needed socks - at that point I was down to about 3 socks which I have no idea how that happened!) and then we went and got Italian beef sandwiches for lunch. OMG SO good! I made such a huge mess though! I'd definitely be up for that again! Once we got home Miriam and Asher fell asleep, and Rebecca taught me how to knit :D I got started on my very first scarf (which I've now finished!) That night we went to Rebecca's parents for dinner, which was delicious!
Wednesday we decided to head into Chicago city, so we got ourselves organised and caught the train in to the city, Miriam sometimes in the buggy and sometimes out of it, and Asher tied to Rebecca in a really nifty backpack! The train took about an hour, and when we got off we headed up North Michigan Avenue. There's some pretty cool stuff up there! The first cool thing we saw was the Chicago Water tower, which looks kind of like a castle. This was one of the only buildings that didn't burn during the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871.
Eventually we made it up to Water Tower Place, an 8 level mall, and drooled our way through American Girl...so many dolls, books, and accessories! We browsed the mall a little, then headed next door to the John Hancock Centre where we were going to have lunch at the Signature Lounge. Rebecca had called ahead - the night before her father had given her the card of someone who worked there who he knew, so we got a reservation. Went up the lift to the 95th floor (no way we were taking the stairs!) and got a table, right next to the window even :D Not that they were hugely busy, but still cool! Even though it looked like a fine day outside, there was still a fair bit of cloud below us, so we didn't have as spectacular view as we could have....still fairly amazing though! After lunch (I had a glorified mac and cheese with bacon bits which was yummy) we were offered complimentary desserts :D We decided to get one creme brulee and one cobbler, and share, and they were both delicious :D
After lunch we made our way back down North Michigan Avenue, stopping for me to take photographs (I loved the Chicago Tribune building with it's pieces of stone from lots of different places), and to pick up some maps from the AAA (I'm now pretty sorted with maps of the US!) and then caught the train home. When we got home, and once Jason had got home we went out again to get a legendary rainbow cone, with 5 different flavours stacked on top of each other (the flavours are stacked in such a way to complement the surrounding flavours. Totally delicious again! (Suddenly I'm understanding why I've gained weight this trip!)
Once we'd done with our ice cream, we drove to Panera for Rebecca's 'Stitch and Bitch' group...we ate dinner there and then Jason and the kids left. I had fun! Lots of really nice people there, and I got to work on my scarf a bit more :D Rebecca's mother drove us home.
Thursday I was woken up by Miriam wearing an interesting outfit! She has the coolest sunglasses, kind of like goggles :D We took some photos, she really liked my sunglasses too!! We decided to go to the childrens museum at Navy Pier, so we got ready and drove in to town. Unfortunately when we got there we learned that they are closed the week after Labour Day :( So we had lunch at an 'interesting' Mexican place, and then wandered around Navy Pier for a bit. It was a beautiful day and I got a little sunburned (not nearly as bad as at home though!) Once we'd had enough (read: once Miriam had had enough!) we drove home. Jason had told me earlier in the week how amazing Rebecca's gumbo was, and she had said she'd make it for me :D So I 'helped' make it by entertaining the kids (not exactly hard!) Her Mum and Dad were coming over too (Rebecca seriously has the coolest family!) Once the gumbo was ready, we sat down to eat...OMG SO GOOD! The key lime pie her parents brought was good too!
Once everyone had left, and gone to bed, I got to go upstairs and pack my stuff to head off to Sheboygan, Wisconsin the next day...which will happen another day! (the person I'm staying with just got her full drivers license so we're going out for lunch to celebrate :D WOO GO THERESA!)