June 7, 2019: Peoria to Frankfort

Friday. We are at my dad’s place today. We have just tomorrow which we are spending in Frankfort getting ready for our trip, and then we are off to Europe with Emily & Madeline on Sunday! So much to do. What a crazy week.

We hung out at dad’s this morning. We have Mia so going out to a restaurant, like we tend to do, would be really hard. She has separation anxiety and cannot be left alone at all. And it is warm out, so she can’t stay in a car or anything. So to go to a restaurant means that we would have to sit outside somewhere where she could be with us under the table and we could not come up with anything like that around dad’s. So eggs, toast, and fried mashed potatoes for us today.

There has been talk for a couple of days that Mia might become our dog. She needs humans around full time and other dogs do not cut it for her. She seems so calm and happy when with us, even just riding in the car. And is so excited to see us when we return. Once Emily goes off to Texas A&M she won’t be at home to be around Mia all day and Mia will need to be crated which isn’t a very good life at all, and with her separation anxiety would be awful for her. But we are home all of the time, so that might be what happens.

We hung out at dad’s for the morning. Then we drove the Nissan Quest out to Frankfort, to Dominica’s parents’ place. Tonight we are going to the Franklin Hotel in Rome for dinner. Emily is attempting to eat all of her favourite New York and American food quickly before leaving for Europe and not having access to it for a month.

Liesl went crazy and got the seafood feast at the Franklin Hotel, friend shrimp (which she devoured), fried haddock (which was amazing, I need to get that next time that I come), and friend scallops. She had never had scallops before (that we can remember) and she thought that they were okay, but nothing special. She isn’t really that into them. Dominica got the pesto sauce gnocchi. I got the stuffed rigatoni that Dominica’s mom recommended. It was excellent.

After dinner most everyone went out for ice cream. I didn’t feel like food, and Emily doesn’t really do ice cream. So we just drove back early. We took Mia out for a long walk to the marina before it got too dark.

We all made an early night of it. Busy day tomorrow, then we have our super early morning and we cannot risk getting behind on sleep in any way.

June 6, 2019: One Night at Dad’s

We got up this morning at the Super 8 in Greenville, Illinois. Around eight or so. Had to walk Mia, pack up the room, and get the kids into the car. Before we could leave the hotel I discovered a loose whippet wandering the parking lot without a collar! I rescued the sweet dog and found the owner and let the hotel know what was going on; I had also discovered an open van full of dogs in crates in the parking lot! Hopefully someone does something, thankfully it was not hot at all, and the van was wide open so the dogs were basically lounging in the shade, so not stressed or anything. But clearly not being taken care of properly.

We got on the road and had a good day of driving. We made very good time and had good weather all day.

We split from Francesca, Madeline, and Emily at Batavia where we got off to go to my dad’s house where we are spending the night. Francesca is driving on to her and Dominica’s parents’ house where she, Liesl, and Luciana are going to be spending the month.

We got to dad’s rather late, but early enough to hang out for a little while. It was getting dark in Batavia, but was dark by the time that we got to dad’s. Mia had a great time, even in the dark, running around in dad’s giant yard. She has probably never been able to just run like that. She is so fast, it’s incredible. She is an Australian Cattle Dog (aka ACD) or Blue Healer and moves like a bullet.

We visited with dad for a few hours, then off to bed. We are going to hang around here for a while tomorrow, then need to drive out to Frankfort and get ready for the trip to Europe!

June 5, 2019: Leaving for New York… and Beyond!

Wednesday. I got up at seven thirty and worked for nearly an hour to help a customer with a website issue. Then I showered and got ready to go work at an on site today.

Paul and I had to be in at ten. He drove me in and was there for about half an hour before heading back. I stayed to work for several hours.

I was on site, down in Irving, and at noon Dominica texted me to tell me that Francesca and the girls had already left College Station and were really, really early and would be at our house in no time! Originally we had thought that there was a possibility of them getting done really early, like two or three, and that we might have an option of leaving tonight around five or six. But this was so much earlier than we had planned for.

Brian, John, and I had lunch at twelve thirty at Boston Pizza. They had a Beyond burger, which made me happy, and that was my lunch. It was quite good. We got back to the office at one thirty and Paul arrived to pick me up just minutes after we got there. Paul and I raced back to the house so that I could finish packing and get things ready. Dominica had the car nearly loaded already, I just had to do the final things to let us get out the door. Francesca, Madeline, and Emily arrived maybe twenty minutes after Paul and I did. I had one customer consultation call that I had to do before we could leave. Then we were off.

It was so early that we managed to get on the road. We were driving by four! We had been thinking that if we got on the road today that we would only make it a little ways, but get a head start on the drive to make the next two days easier. But this was so early and we were feeling so good that we decided to see how far we could make it.

We stopped in northern Oklahoma for dinner at the last Carl’s Jr. to get their Beyond Famous Star before leaving Oklahoma and entering Missouri where those restaurants turn into Hardees and have nothing for us to eat. This is our last Beyond burger till likely August.

In Missouri we ran into a terrible storm. Very high winds and a lot of rain. It made for some rough driving, but it was spotty and we kept going. Francesca and I really wanted to push through and got to the far side of St. Louis so that we could get up in the morning and not have to deal with that traffic. Otherwise we would likely be very sorry.

We ended up pushing all the way through to Greenville, Illinois and found a Super 8 there that would take the dog. Francesca started off with Mia in her car, but after Oklahoma she moved over to ours and was suddenly calm and relaxed and was able to travel without panting and without needing any medicine. She did great in the car.

It was almost two in the morning when we stopped for some sleep. We are over halfway now, we will easily make it to New York tomorrow. Mia slept in our room tonight, she slept with her head on my leg.

June 4, 2019: Happty Birthday Dad

Tuesday. Today is the last definitely full day still in Dallas for us. We might be leaving for our drive to New York to catch our flight to Europe as early as tomorrow afternoon. So we have to be completely ready today!

I had to be up really early this morning, around eight. It was so soon after I had gone to bed that I really did not ever fall asleep. My watch showed zero sleep, in fact. Today is going to be a really long day.

I got up and showered and had to get right on the road to drive down to Irving for my day of working onsite with a client. I was doing pretty well on time, so was able to swing into McDonald’s and to get myself a coffee to get me through the day.

My onsite day turned into just a one hour meeting and I have to return tomorrow. So a little after eleven I was able to head back towards home. I swung into our local donut shop and picked up a little food. While I was there, Rachel managed to reach me to tell me that her phone and purse were missing. I looked around and located them in the minivan, but we also found out that our web server have been hacked so that was an emergency demanding my time. What a busy day.

I ran home and fed everyone donuts. Kat had stopped by, luckily I had some extra donuts, too.

I spent an hour or two frantically working to fix the server that was hacked. That actually went surprisingly well. I was able to write a script that cleaned things up and we were good by the middle of the afternoon.

From that point I had to run out to Plano to bring Rachel her phone and purse. She had slept most of the day. I got her her phone and she caught up with people who were looking for her. Then we ran out to Fuzzy Taco for Taco Tuesday. She took me out for lunch. I had the new grilled mahi mahi fish taco which was amazing. I grabbed two mahi mahi tacos to take home to Dominica, too. Then I dropped Rachel back off and she had about an hour before she had to be off to get to work.

I got home and got stuck right in to more work for hours. Still much to be done.

My evening was spent watching Karl Watson and getting everything ready for our trip. Dominica and Paul ran out and picked up Blue Dragon Chinese take out for dinner. I worked to get my phone all unloaded from pictures. I want it as clear as possible while traveling. That is always a lot of work. And a lot of videos to upload, too. I worked to not just upload videos that are on my phone, but also as much of the videos that I have from the Lumix, too, because this is pretty much the last chance that I have to get them uploaded so that Valentina can be working on them while I am gone.

Paul well out to play snooker with AJ this evening, while Dominica and I were busy with packing and travel prep. I had to download podcasts to my MP3 player so that I would have them for the flight. We don’t believe that we are going to have any in flight entertainment, so if we don’t bring things with us, we will have nothing to do on the long flights from NY to London, and London to Athens.

Dominica and I watched Kara and Nate for a while, then I turned in early. I was really tired and tomorrow could be a super long day. I got my phone pretty much all cleared off which is great. So loads of space for whatever I need to do on the trip.

June 3, 2019: One Week to Europe

Monday. We are now under a week until we are heading to Europe. It is getting real now. As of today, everything is focused on getting us packed and ready. There is still a lot to do. We have two days until the Grice girls arrive and we might end up heading out for New York right away on Wednesday evening. So we could be in motion in as little as two days. Or we might wait until Thursday morning. But either way, we are headed out really soon.

Relatively busy with work today. I am quite swamped trying to get everything ready for me to be gone for an extended period of time. So no time to relax for me. Dominica did a lot of packing today, and she watched a bit of Karl Watson to learn more about how to film travels.

Kat was here this morning. For lunch I ran out to Pupusa Dona Lola and picked up pupusas for everyone for lunch. This is the first that some of them have had the really good ones from there and everyone was super impressed.

For dinner tonight, Paul and I ran out to Olive Burger in Richardson and picked up Beyond burgers for the family. The food from there was really good and really cheap. I was quite impressed.

Tonight, Rachel, Lou, and I went to the Fox and Hound for drinks and to do some travel vlogging filming. We shot for about an hour and a half. Then I took Lou back to his hotel, then took Rachel home. Rachel was pretty sick when I got her back (she figured out later than she had taken some medication earlier in the day and was thinking that it had worn off so she effectively ruffied herself by adding in the alcohol.) So I got to spend a bit of the night making sure she was okay as she was getting sick for a while until Megan was available to take over.

I got home super late, and had work to do. So I quickly checked some of the video footage that we had made and saw that it looked pretty good, and then spent an hour doing some website work until I needed to go lay down for a bit.

One week from today we will be in Athens, Greece. A week after that we will be in our rented house on Crete near Chania. A week after that, we will be chilling in Italy! So much to do so soon. I have been away from Europe way too long. I am so anxious to get back.