So I left last Wednesday afternoon around 6 pm. Anyone who has used Milwaukee’s airport knows you’re not getting anywhere ‘til REALLY late if you don’t leave until 6. But the first flight was on schedule and left me with time to enjoy the best people watching place this side of the rocks on the Summerfest grounds-the TGIFriday’s at the MSP airport. If you sit on their ‘porch’, you have a front row seat to a main artery of the airport tram and a reader board, so lots of people come right up and stop. Needless to say, I saw my requisite three cowboy hats pretty quick.
The second flight was actually a little early and after some wandering around, the shuttle driver found me and led me to Pimp My Ride-Airport Shuttle Version. This thing was sweet! Fine oak paneling…flat screen tvs…waters, sodas, freshly brewed coffee. Good start CdA, good start. By this point in time it was midnight, but I ended up trading business cards with a destination management guy out of Scottsdale and making friends with a pretty Aussie. (Even her cough had the lovely accent. Jealous.)
Next morning woke up to meet with our CSM (convention services manager for those of you still learning the biz). He was an unbelievably nice guy who showed me all around the property and introduced me to the amazing huckleberry in pancake, jam, and lemonade form. Also, we went out to the golf course with the famous floating green which looks even more impressive in person. Fun side note: you can get to the golf course from the resort either by boat or by car. They have boats that leave every 30 minutes for a short 10-minute ride. If I thought the shuttles were nice, well, oh doggies…these boats (little speed boats built for around 8 passengers) cost $250,000 each. We’re traveling in style, my friends! The meeting space is a little generic, but it’s all right on top of each other which will make my job easy. Making up for that was the wine cellar. I’m going to suggest our spouses do a wine tasting in there. It was a room straight out of the best wineries in California…they have to experience it!
I left Chris for the afternoon of exploring on my own, which was started off with a hike of Tubb’s Hill. This 2.2 mile hike (do I sound like the hike pamphlet??) was called easy, but for those of us that live in one story…it took some work. The surroundings were beautiful, and I don’t just mean the military guys out on leave (oh! Tip your waitresses. Try the veal.) I took some great pictures and spent a good portion of time contemplating life and how I’m lucky enough to have this be a part of my job. (More sidenotes: I took a bunch of great pictures…check them out on my facebook, or put a note in the comments if you would like to see.)
I’m not too proud to ignore the fact that I totally got lost on the hill when I thought I was taking a shortcut. Got a little panicky, but went off trail and pretty much ended up in somebody’s backyard. Got back to the room and even got a phone call from a good friend. Gosh, this trip was perfect!
Next up-a little shopping…which was my first disappointment of the trip. Even though the resort is sold out all summer (seriously…all summer…when other hotels are hoping for 75% on the weekends!), the stores closed at 6. When did I go out to shop? 6:05. Figures. Still managed to find a cute wallet at a store that was equal parts boob-shirts and “Jesus is My Homeboy”-wear. I guess the religious side won out though. Even though all the purses were leopard print, the background music was Christian. Interesting mix.
Dinner that night was at the resort’s Asian restaurant. Now, I was all excited because I was told the chef at this place was brought on from my favorite (only?) chain restaurant and told “do P.F. Changs, but 25% better.” The meal was very good, but there must be a patent on P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps, because these didn’t cause the same crack-like cravings. Though there was the firefighter action in the hotel that night, I decided to pass ($60 was too much to spend, even if it was going to a good cause), so I spent the rest of the night watching the sunset and enjoying the room.
Friday morning I met with our tour director who whisked me away to a bunch of places including a horse corral (good), a mission (decent), and her house (best!) We were only stopping at her house so she could pick up some materials, but she had a pool, volleyball court, and in-ground trampoline in her backyard. I think THAT should be the location for our Friday night activity. One of the other places she took me was the Clark House. As the story goes, Mr. Clark bought the land and brought his wife up on a boat. He told her, “this is yours, do what you wish” and she created this beautiful house with a ton of stunning gardens. As this story typically continues, Mr. and Mrs. Clark lost it all in the depression and a very pleasant, but very stereotypical gentleman bought the house when it was in ruins and fixed it up to a lovely bed and breakfast with lunch at noon and dinner at 6 (“and only with reservations and we don’t deal with dietary requests or food allergies. If you don’t tell me ahead of time, they’ll just have to eat what we provide.”)
Lunch that day was at the CdA Brewery where I had to test out a beer sampler in the name of figuring out what the attendees would like. (Don’t worry, you legal folks…I only had sips. And I don’t think huckleberry beer won out…)
The quick trip ended around 2 when I had to go back to Spokane (only a 40 minute drive away…not bad at all!) where I promptly found out I was going to miss my second flight. Yup. Turns out I missed it by 6 minutes. 6. Minutes. Ugh. I was given the option to stay in Salt Lake City for the night and most of the next day, which I originally took. Delta was paying for the hotel room, so why not? Well, I’ll tell ya. Cuz Salt Lake City doesn’t have much to do if you don’t have a car. I went to dinner at a place recommended by a friend and after receiving crap service by both cabbies and the restaurant staff, I decided to call Delta and be put on a red-eye. I got on, but I had to go to the airport at 10pm, when the flight left at 12:50. Right before the plane left, I officially become one of those schmoos who owns a neck pillows. Seriously…your level of d-baggery goes up if you own one. Well, I’m amongst those ranks now. (And I’m also amongst the ranks of those with a permanent crick in the neck…that thing didn’t work!) I finished off my square trip around the country by this quick jaunt to Atlanta. I spent two hours in that airport doing my best to look homeless (sleeping on the floor in a quiet corner, with my arm through my purse strap and using my summer scarf as a blankie…at least I had the stupid neck pillow to keep my head off the cootie-filled floor.)
I finally got to Milwaukee at 9:30 am Central time (who knows what time zone my body was in by that time). I slept until 1, laid on the couch until 3 and after a quick jaunt to the gym and the grocery store was back in bed by 8.
So all in all, I paid for it in the end, but was so pleasantly surprised by my trip to Idaho. I will definitely go back on my own vacation time and would recommend it to anyone. It had something for all interests-outdoors stuff, shopping, good food. Who woulda thunk it, but consider me a fan, Idaho!