You may recall that we spent 3 weeks over XMAS and New Years 2017-2018 in New Zealand with friends Pam and Kevin Wilson…
All talk, mostly alcohol-related, we thought at the time…
While there, and because Liz HATES accepting hospitality at face value, we insisted on helping with their XMAS Dinner, which turns out to have a Turkey Component by Kiwi (or at least Wilson) tradition. Well, I know how to manage turkey, and did so for the assembled Wilson Fambly. As we chatted (and drank) over the days spent lounging at the beach, it was suggested that Pam and Kevin should consider, some day, a “Real Turkey Dinner.” This would, of course, be a Thanksgiving one, in the States! One day.
Well, I happened to mention this in a random email last summer, and the next thing I heard, Kevin had his itinerary sorted out! He had managed to get 2 Business-class tickets from New Zealand to Chicago, then Minneapolis then back to Auckland for a grand total of $169. Of course, that sounds EXTRAORDINARILY reasonable until you consider it means sitting in that Business Class seat for almost 24 hours end-to-end EACH WAY. Despite this, almost before we knew what was happening, the deal was set!
AIRBnB had a place within a couple blocks of Tryptophan-central
Committed now (the Wilsons SHOULD BE COMMITTED, but that is another story), I looked for lodging in Minneapolis, because while my fambly has SOME extra room for FAMBLY, not for Kiwi family extensions. Turns out AirBNB had a place within a couple blocks of Tryptophan-central. So, everything was booked. My sister was (and is, still) wondering a bit why anyone would fly 7,000 miles for a Turkey dinner; but in point of fact, we come from a long line of crazy, so “Kiwi-crazy” is barely more than a conversation starter at a Harris Holiday.
Turns out the Kiwi’s Airline Plans were, as airlines are wont to do, more complicated than they needed to be. It seems Kevin could NOT (NO WAY!) book flites TO Chicago, then RETURN from Minneapolis, which would have allowed for us to drive together across the great state of Wisconsin. NO possibility of a round trip with a hole in it! No Sir-ee (or Siri, either)-Bob!
Why, I have NO IDEA. Especially since over Thanksgiving I am QUITE SURE the airline could have sold those 2 seats from Chicago to Minneapolis that we did not need or want for a LOT more than $169! But, we adapt and overcome (humming a few bars of that ol’ spiritual…)!
We made plans to drop the Wilsons off at O’hare in the morning and pick them up at the Minneapolis Airport in the afternoon. By this plan, we would have driven 7 hours, while they relaxed at the United Club at the airport, had brekkie, a nap, etc. They’d not even bother to check their luggage – we’d just keep it in the back of the Jeep!! This was another moment, just for emphasis, that we were glad we had traded the Clown Car for something larger – No way two Kiwis and all their (and our) luggage was getting to Minneapolis in that!
While in Chicago, we did all sorts of fun things! The Wilsons, having visited us before, did not need to attend to all the “usual” (but certainly fun!) tourist things. Instead, some XMAS cheer as the Christkindl market had just opened for the season; and the Parade and Lighting ceremony of Michigan Ave. took place during the few days the Kiwis were here.
And we made sure to catch some music (Jimmy Johnson…a FABULOUS Blues Musician was celebrating his 91st Birthday at a little club). And some Pizza — the Kiwis have craved Ginos since we first took them there several years ago and we managed to squeeze in TWO SEPARATE PIZZA Events.
And some drinks on the 96th floor of whatever the hell they are calling what we all know as the “Hancock Building” now. They have renamed it the “875 Delaware Building” – you can see why it is still “Hancock” to most of us. MUCH more fun to say we had drinks at the “top of the ‘Cock” than in the bar at 875 N. Michigan, I think you will agree!
It was a bit colder on this visit than any of the others the Wilsons have executed over the years.
Pam eventually resorted to a stocking cap, which Kevin insisted looked like she was wearing a tea coozie. In general, fashion loses out to sensibility when there is snow on the ground, so Pam didn’t mind (or even notice!) Kevin’s comments!
Or, perhaps she did, and the flite back to NZ will be MUCH COLDER for Kevin as he sits out on the wing?
And of course, the doctors visits…Liz will require a couple of Wisdom Tooth Extractions after Thanksgiving…
The Wilson’s complex Air-Travel scenario, in the end, worked out. But in the midst of it, we were a bit worried by the weather situation. Snowmageddon was predicted across Wisconsin for the very day that we would be driving to Minneapolis, while the Wilsons would be flying there. The forecast was quite ominous – a huge confluence of weather systems anticipated to produce at least a foot of snow, which we’d have to traverse after dropping them off at O’Hare and before picking them up. And, we know from long experience that airlines start to cancel flites at O’Hare if there is the merest HINT of weather!
The VERY DEFINITE potential was there for Dan and Liz to spend the weekend in a snow drift while the Wilsons were camped in the United Lounge.
Yeah, Yeah. I am sure all that is prudent.
We were well prepared for the potential disruption, though. By “prepare,” most experts mean that if driving into potential winter storm-weather, one should have warm clothes, a blanket, some water, a flashlight and never allow the Gas Tank below ½. Yeah, Yeah. I am sure all that is prudent. In our case, “Prepare” meant that Kevin and Pam had acquired several bottles of Kiwi Wine, as well as Kiwi Chocolate and Kiwi Honey, which were safely ensconced, but fully available in an emergency, in the back of the car. So, IF Liz and I ended up in a snow drift, we had ample provisions to make a VERY HAPPY TIME of it!
As it turned out, snowmageddon was delayed to the evening of our travel day AND the Wilsons got the last couple of seats on an earlier-than-anticipated flite. So not only did we make it safely to Minneapolis, we made it in time for dinner with my sister and her family before the snow started in earnest.
And snow it did! There was a foot on the ground when we awoke the next morning, and the winds were HOWLING at 40+ MPH.
The Kiwis were prepared as well as they could be for conditions they could not even imagine, but noting that Pam did not have any, much less good boots, I walked to the local grocery store for some breakfast stuff.
Later that day, as Liz wandered with them thru the indoor Skyways of Downtown Minneapolis, Pam bought a pair of Uggs. I am sure she did not even consider how ridiculous it was to fly 7,000 miles in a direction opposite to nearby (from their home in New Zealand) Australia, where Uggs are made, to acquire them. (She said they were MUCH CHEAPER here, which further defies logic).
And, Thanksgiving was as Thanksgiving always is. The BEST Holiday of the year in my opinion – the VERY BEST that America has to offer the world — an occasion without partisanship, divisiveness or antagonism of any kind.
Even Christmas (and similar traditions of other religions) comes with a lot of commercial baggage – presents must be had and given, after all! Perfume and diamonds are an XMAS necessity if you consider the ratio of commercials on TV where these for a brief period outnumber pharmaceutical (and even ED) offerings and miracles. No one has managed (yet) to commercialize THANKSGIVING even though the day after is Black Friday.
THAT is the very WORST and most commercial day of all, but it can be ignored if you are of a mind to.
And, my sister welcomes folks of all nationalities (yes, EVEN KIWIs) for an entire weekend of conversation and good cheer. Dozens of folks (at least) make an appearance on either Thanksgiving itself or the next day, often bringing a dish to share from their own family history. Turkey with Mole sauce is becoming a new tradition for the Harrises!!! So, more than a little food, with sufficient adult-beverage-style lubrication.
And, I get to cook the Turkey, which is always done outside, on the grill, and often in the snow. Both (Turkey AND snow) were plentiful this year. I planned to use the special “Orion-Cooker” grill which I had discovered last year, and expect results as spectacular.
Kevin paid CLOSE attention to all things Turkey Related, from purchase at the store, to prep, brining and cooking. Kevin said he ASSUMES I will be coming down to manage the Kiwi bird again, at some point – and we no doubt will! Assuming this, I donated the extra Brining bags and equipment for him to take back, remembering that when we cooked the bird down there last time, we could not find in any store such essentials! They also do not have Mesquite or Hickory wood chips, but we found the Kiwi version using Manuka Wood was quite an acceptable substitute.
And, with that, I will close 2019 so that we can all take a turkey-induced nap! Another tradition the Kiwis seem to have picked right up and adopted for their own! LIZ AND I Hope your holiday season is THE BEST EVER. We hope you’ll favor us with your attention and possibly even your presence in 2020.
To that end, the NEXT post you’ll see from us will include a rough idea of where our orbits will take us next year. Maybe yours’ can intersect?