Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Cool House in Keokuk, IA

Tom's family is composed of his parents, the three boys (Byron, Tom, & Shaun), their spouses (Kari, Me, & Alicia), and Byron & Kari's kids; the 4 grandkids (James, Michael, Emelie, & Eliza).  We live in 3 different states, so we don't see each other very often.  We try to get together every 2 years.  This year we met up at a house in Keokuk, IA (it was a short drive to get to Nauvoo, IL).  It was a old style mansion type house that was absolutely huge.  Plenty of room for all of us and an extra floor on top for the owner when she was there (which she wasn't the whole time we were there.  This is the house.

The Front of the House

The Staircases

Our Bedroom (you can see the air conditioner in the window - very important there)


Living Room (otherwise know as the movie watching room or playroom)

Dining Room #2 (otherwise known as the Office - multiple laptops at all time)

Library (aka Game Room)

Kitchen/Dining Room (we actually used this one as a dining room)

Outside BBQ/Pond area

Monday, August 30, 2010

Train Trip from Chicago to Iowa

After our day in Chicago we had to make our way to the AmTrak station for our train trip from Chicago to Iowa (we had arranged to get picked up at the train station and driven to our rental house where the rest of Tom's family was waiting for us).  The walk from our motel to the AmTrak station took a little time, but our train didn't leave until later that afternoon so we had plenty of time.  Although I have to admit we looked like a bunch of tourist walking down the street towing our suitcases with us!

After we got to the train station we had a little while to waste before our train left so we wondered around.  We started with lunch of course, then we decided to locate the older section of the train station.  It was pretty cool!  It was a huge open room that looked like your normal train station with benches everywhere.  It also had some pretty cool pillars that I made Tom pose with me in front of.  Aren't we just adorable!

While we were there a train got canceled and all the people that were going to ride on that train got moved to a later train (luckily not ours).  When we were lining up to get on our train the other train was doing the same thing with twice as many people as there should have been.  It was kind of hilarious seeing that many people try to line up for two different trains in the little room we were in (this was obviously not the room pictured above).

The train turned out to be a lot more comfortable that I thought it would be.  Tom and I actually thought of taking the train all the way from Washington but it was going to be too expensive.  They have rooms with beds you can purchase for a lot of money, so we obviously didn't do that.  For out trip from Chicago to Iowa we didn't need a bed because the trip was only a few hours long.  We had really comfy seats that we got to spend the trip in.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of them, but the seats were plenty big and with plenty of leg room.

We also were allowed to move around the train as much as we wanted.  They had an observation car where you could hang out and watch the scenery.  They also had a dining car (although we didn't use it).  Tom and I want to take the train again and use the dining car this time (but we will still probably not upgrade to the beds).

It was a nice train ride that we all enjoyed!  Definitely a lot funner than by car or plane!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


So, it seems that July has come and gone.  I was only home for half of the month.  There was way too much that happened to fit into one blog.  So, I'm going to start at the beginning and work forward.  For the first week of July we traveled to Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana.  We were meeting Tom's family for a family reunion near Nauvoo, IL. We decided to start the trip by meeting Tom's brother Shaun & his wife Alicia in Chicago.  The original plan was to have all night there with them (they were coming from SLC, UT).  Unfortunately, their plane was delayed and they didn't get in until around 10:00 that night.  We flew in earlier that afternoon after a very early flight from Seattle.  We took a little commuter train to get to the downtown area and checked into our motel room and was able to get a little nap.

 (View from our motel room)

The motel was a little bit scary.  It was right next to the train, which made it easy to get to the motel but a little annoying once we were there.  It was also a pretty old building that made me fear for my life anytime I got in the elevator.  The bedroom was pretty good, but it had two smaller beds again (this is becoming a bit of a tradition with us in motels), plus it didn't have a great walkway to the bathroom.  Definitely not somewhere I will stay again, but it worked for one night.

(Motel Room)

Later that night we wandered around downtown Chicago waiting for Shaun and Alicia to arrive.  It was a nice walk, especially when it cooled down (remember we are wimpy Washingtonians now....it was hot).  Once Shaun and Alicia arrived we took off for this little pizza joint called Uno's to have us some official Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  It was surprisingly delicious.  My previous experience with Deep Dish Pizza hasn't been the best.  I think in general they are greasy and heavy.  I don't know how they make theirs differently, but it wasn't greasy and very delicious!  We also chose to get a couple of appetizers (did I mention that we didn't eat until around 11:00 at night) we were quite hungry.  We were surprised how big the appetizers ended up being.  We got "Onion Crisps" and a "Vegetable Tray".  Everything was delicious.  Luckily we walked all the way there so we had to walk all the way back to the motel, so we had to wear off some of the food before we went to sleep.

Downtown Chicago was interesting, but that's about it.  I enjoyed our experience there, but I don't think we'll go back.  Definitely my favorite part was dinner that night.

(Cool Art Eye)

(Downtown Chicago Library - we loved the metal on the top)