Sunday, June 14, 2015

That Time I Went To ... Chicago

Last year I went to Chicago with Nunya.  He had to work at a conference and I had to explore Chicago.  Seems fair.

I did a little bit of work while in Chicago meeting with clients and industry friends.  Then the rest of the weekend was on my own exploring the awesome city.  I, of course, only go to Chicago when the weather is amazing.  Which, of course, makes me want to live there.  Until, of course, I see the winter weather they get.

Oh well.

On Saturday, I strolled through neighborhoods and visited farmer markets.  Which made me really sad because I couldn't buy everything to bring back to Texas.  Then I went to the large farmers' market in Lincoln Park. If you can attend this market do it!  So many great things to see, explore, and taste.  After my loop through the market, I sat on a park bench eating lunch in the midst of all the locals enjoying the beautiful weather.

I asked a local lady sitting next to me if she knew where the restrooms were and she said "Well, the market has port o' potties but I don't recommend them.  If you walk up one block you will find public restrooms that are really clean.  They are in the barn."

And that's when I worried that she was drunk.  And/or high.  I said thank you and then walked toward the "barn".  Sure enough, there was a barn.  In the middle of Chicago.  With cows, pigs, horses ... a whole working farm.  And the bathrooms were very clean.

Sometimes talking to strangers pays off.

Turns out the barn was part of the Chicago Zoo.  Which is free.  Which made me want to move to Chicago really bad.  I explored several zoo exhibits and the people watching.

As I left the zoo I followed a path to get to a particular spot that one of my company's clients mentioned to me the day before.  He said you can see the Chicago skyline pretty well from one particular spot.  And he was right.
I also got to spend time with Nunya during his work trip.  One of the events I went to was in the John Hancock Center's Signature Room.  On the 95th floor.  A fun event, good food and drink, nice people, and amazing views.

Navy Pier is on the left.
After a weekend like that who wouldn't want to move to Chicago?!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tempting Fate with Airbnb

People ask me if I travel a lot.  And it is hard for me to answer because what quantifies as "a lot"?  I think the amount I travel is manageable (and enjoyable) for me.  If other people travel at my frequency they may say "I'm always on the road" while others may say "That's it?"

I have always wanted to test out a service like Airbnb.  From the company's website: Airbnb is a trust community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.  On one of my work trips to Arizona in February I decided to test it out Airbnb.  I did it on the company's dime because 1) I'd save the company money because Airbnb is usually cheaper than a hotel room and 2) I'd have a paper trail in case the experience didn't go well.

I found a place that was close to where my meetings were, it was a place all to myself (they have options to rent a room as well as share a room ... I went with "Entire Place"), and SUPER cheap.  Contacted the owners and made arrangements for my trip.
The place was a standalone structure in the back yard of the main house.  The house had a beautiful backyard with orange trees, huge pool, and big yard.  I also had access to the pool if I wanted to go swimming.  In order to get to into the backyard (and my Airbnb place) I had to go through the gated driveway.  I was given access via my personal code which I keyed into the gate's key pad.  I felt more secure at the Airbnb location than I did at most hotels.
Free coffee, tea, and sodas. The desk even had blank cards and stamps in case you wanted to mail a note.
Plus, the neighbors behind the house trained police dogs.
Thoughtful toiletries for travel warriors.
The building in the backyard wasn't anything fancy but the accommodations were better than expected!  Queen size bed, wonderful linens, large desk, fully stocked mini fridge, snacks, toiletries, books, etc.  There was no TV in the room but I don't usually watch TV when I travel for work (my days are filled with work stuff and my nights are filled with sleep).
Free snacks! Budget friendly work trip!
Did I mention everything in the mini fridge and snacks were free?  Yep.  And I had free WiFi.

I'd recommend using Airbnb but I will say to do your homework on the property before booking (just as a precaution).  I had to cut my trip short due to weather at home (wanted to get home before I flights were cancelled) and the Airbnb owners graciously reimbursed me for the unused night.  Much better than staying at a hotel!
Little chocolates were on the bed welcoming me to my first Airbnb experience!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Epic Morning

I posted before about channeling Samuel L. Jackson when I realized birds were eating my garden. However, when faced with a snake I do not channel Mr. Jackson.

This morning, I was going through my normal routine. Sort of waking up, checking my phone for the latest updates around the world, start running the water in the shower to let it heat up, try to get the curious cat to jump in the shower (he never does), and then I hop in.  Started going through the shower routine: shampoo hair, wash face, rinse hair, condition hair, shave legs, rinse hair.

However, I never got past "shampoo hair".  Because I saw this in the corner.
That's right!  A snake.  It might not have been a cobra but I didn't ask to see its identification.  Instead, I hopped out of the shower with shampoo suds dripping into my eyes.  I then tried to call my boyfriend (he didn't answer), then I called my mom (she didn't answer), and then I called my dad.  Dad tells me to go get a shovel and kill it.

Instead, I burn down my house.  Seriously, Dad, "get a shovel"?  That's the worst advice ever.

So, when faced with a real snake I become a crazy person ... maybe I do channel Samuel L. Jackson.