Gobble, Gobble!

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Wisconsin
Saturday, November 17, 2012

After three weeks back at work, we had another vacation: our school's mid-semester break. We tried to cast a wide net in our search for a holiday destination and considered everything from Tunisia to Bangkok to Morocco to Senegal to Jordan. The September 11th attacks on the US embassies and consulates around the area nixed Morocco and Tunisia, the cold water in the Atlantic at that time of year eliminated Senegal, the long flights to Asia ruled out Bangkok, and a sudden uprising crossed Jordan off the list. After expending so much time and effort researching those places, we were both a bit loathe to start all over -- and then it hit me: our break happily coincided with Thanksgiving in the US. A quick search revealed that flights were quite reasonable, and after checking with our families, we booked the tickets lickety split.
We took a dream 11-hour Turkish Air flight direct to Chicago. The plane was 2-4-2, so Konrad and I didn't have to worry about bothering anyone when we wanted to get up and walk around or go to the bathroom. We had millions of movies to choose from, and even had the last seats in the row, so I felt like I could actually recline for a change. The flight attendants served two meals (one at the beginning and one at the end); in between, they told us to help ourselves to tasty sandwiches, cakes, and drinks available in the galley. Probably the only flight I've been on since 9/11 where I didn't get horribly dehydrated as a result.

Unfortunately, our good spirits were dragged down when we got off the plane and saw the obscenely long line at Immigration -- it snaked down corridor after corridor, and was easily the longest line I've ever seen anywhere in my life -- Konrad estimated it at 1/4-1/2 mile long. And the worst part was that it didn't move. Not at all. We guessed it would easily be at least three hours before we made it through to the baggage claim. Through some miracle, it actually started to move and we only had to wait about an hour and a half. My mom and dad were waiting for us on the other side and escorted us back to Madison in their fancy Caddy SUV.

We went to their house and greeted Pike and a very lethargic Arlo. My mom had called earlier in the week to let me know that Arlo had been very, very suddenly diagnosed with cancer and she was told that he wouldn't make it to the weekend. But he's always been a fighter and he held on til Konrad, Pike, and I all had a chance to see him (my parents waited the weekend to see how he did before taking him in on Monday morning and sending him to greener pastures).
After catching up with the Pie, our entire posse headed downtown to The Dane where a huge crew of friends and family were waiting (despite the late hour). Even though the flight had been only 11 hours, the time it took us to go from our house to theirs took 19 hours, so we figured we wouldn't make it very long before we had to crash out. We surprised ourselves by staying out til bartime and outlasting the majority of our party.

On Sunday, we headed to the Konrads' for the first of three Thanksgivings, then capped off the evening with drinks at the Weary Traveler. It was a full day of family, food, photos, and football. Monday evening was reserved for catching up with friends over dinner at Lao Laan-Xang and drinks at Kara's and Tony's. Tuesday afternoon found us having lunch and delicious microbrews with Konrad's dad and Violet, followed by some quick shopping, and then dinner at Halong Bay with the rents, and Kara and Tony. We took our moms out for brunch at the Hubbard Avenue Diner on Wednesday, then spent a solid eight hours doing the shopping we needed to get done. Konrad wasn't too thrilled about it, but it was a necessary evil, and we were able to get most of the things we needed in just one day.

Thursday was officially Thanksgiving, and we spent the day at Konrad's mom's place with most of his family, my parents, and a few of Pat's friends. It too was a full day of food, family, and football, and we were also treated to a performance put on by five of his six nieces and nephews. Even through the day was over, Thanksgiving wasn't: on Friday, we had our third Thanksgiving (really making up for our first one with family since 2004!), this time at the Parsons' house with Ma, Pa, Pike, and his girlfriend Andrea. It was a chance for us to meet her, and also for us all to see Pike before he made the big move: over the summer, she had accepted a job in Fort Myers, FL, and Pike had decided to move down there with her on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Dinner was good, but abbreviated since both Pike and Konrad had plans. 
Since the group was breaking up, I decided to head downtown with Konrad and join him at the Badger hockey game. He was meeting the Konrad side of the clan for the game, a long family tradition. Unfortunately, Wisconsin didn't play all that well (losing the game 4-2 to mediocre Minnesota State at home), but Konrad's nieces Nicole and Alyssa kept me entertained and made the game enjoyable. From there, we rejoined my family and a big group of friends at Genna's on the Square for fun and frivolity. A handful of us stayed up past our prescribed bedtimes and met up with Dar and Sal at The Dane before retiring to Kara and Tony's for the night. 

Saturday was our last day in the States, and the minutes were ticking by faster than we could count them. We hadn't gotten back to Kara and Tony's til nearly 3am, so didn't get up and on the road til about 10am. We had to stop off at the Coop and Copps to pick up those wonderful veggie and Wisconsin delicacies before heading home to pack up. We wanted to see the family one more time, so invited them all over to my parents' house for an easy pizza lunch. Before we knew it, 3:45 was upon us, and we had a mere two hours left to pack everything and wrap up all our loose ends. We made it, and with a few minutes to spare to say our farewells to Pike and Andrea.
My parents drove us back down to Chicago, getting us to O'Hare in plenty of time for our 10pm flight. Again we flew direct (only 10 hours on the way back), enjoying the same benefits of our first flight, and bringing to an end our first trip home in nearly 2.5 years. It may have been short (one week), but it was definitely very sweet and gave us loads of opportunities to see our family and friends. Hurrah for our first Thanksgiving at home since moving abroad!
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