Vacation Gone Awry

As I mentioned in my previous post,, James and I took the youngest 5 kids on an interstate vacation. We had originally made plans to visit my friend Kay, but a health issue arose and so, as James and I are fond of saying, “we punted” and booked a hotel in Chicago.

We had the oil changed locally a few days before the trip, and had both front ball joints replaced on the eve of our excursion, so the vehicle was barely driven home before we left in it early the next morning.

My next little divulgence is far from my proudest moment in common sense. I was chugging down my coffee as I drove along contentedly on the freeway. I kept thinking, “Wow, that’s kind of cool how there is a fog behind us but we never drive through it!”

Stating the now-obvious: it was smoke. If you ever note fog only behind your vehicle, pull the heck over and exit the car! (James has mercilessly and comically taken to say, “Hmmm…I think there’s a fog behind us..oh wait! That would be SMOKE!” He follows this with a wink and a hug as he shakes his head in disbelief.)

The kind driver on the highway flagged us down by yelling “SMOKE!” while pointing to the back of the auto. We exited in Michigan City, and passed garage after garage that was closed, until we found Michigan City Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.


Michigan City Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

Michigan City Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

They began a thorough inspection of the vehicle while we ate breakfast (James and I had the kids make bagel sandwiches for the trip…we left them at home in the fridge).

We were so thankful for the provision by God of the exact dealership that we needed, in close proximity to a Denny’s® that we could eat at. Additionally, it was Ruby’s birthday when this all happened. Our server was incredibly thoughtful, and not only did she rally the other servers to sing, but she also enlisted the clapping of the other diners in the restaurant!

Ruby was so thoroughly surprised! The kids did not complain once. Seriously, not a single grumble. James never snapped at me or growled at anyone. I point this fact out not because he typically snaps at me, but because his kindness is so vastly different and opposite of my ex husband’s demeanor.

Regarding the unexpected developments of the car breaking down, we just both decided to “roll with it” and see what would unfold.

We returned to the dealership where Kelly explained that our differential seal was cracked. If we had driven any further it literally would have ruined the differential! Despite my ignorance, God mercifully kept the car running with only minor damage. It could have been so much worse.

We also remembered that the SouthShore line runs out of Michigan City and into Chicago. Kelly found us a taxi service, reserved two taxis to accommodate us and our luggage; and we were off in a flurry after birthday wishes to Ruby, best wishes for a fun time to the kids, and a hug from Kelly to me.

We boarded the train, thankful that we had managed to condense everything into a couple carry-ons and some other bags. During the two hour train ride, the kids were fabulous! Four of them had never ridden the train into Chicago before, so they were
enthralled with the journey!

Track View (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Track View (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

We arrived at our stop, gathered our luggage; and set off on foot for the Embassy Suites. We walked quite a ways, determined to “hoof it” after sitting on a train for so long.

Embassy(R) Sign

Embassy Suites Chicago Sign


Lobby at Embassy Suites Chicago. (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Lobby at Embassy Suites Chicago. (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014



Suite View 1 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Suite View 1 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

The kids rested by James in the lobby while I went to confirm check- in. Mr. Kent Toyota was very helpful. Apparently, I had accidentally mapped the route to the wrong Embassy Suites (there are two within the city of Chicago). When I asked about the Metra, Mr. Toyota insisted instead on calling us a taxi.

Within moments, we were whisked away via taxi. We arrived, bags were checked, and we were delighted by the beautiful foyer, plush chairs, and spacious bathrooms (when you have three girls in one family, this is a necessity).

The concierge, Doris, was thoughtful, caring, and empathic. She arranged for us to have a Lake view suite! We boarded a glass elevator and went upstairs to freshen up. The views left us breathless!

By now, breakfast was a distant memory, so we located the helpful restaurant legend which had been given to us at check-in and we were off! We quickly found Timothy O’Toole’s Pub, were seated, and had our drink orders and appetizers requested before we knew it.  James and I enjoyed our Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale™ and we split the most tender Salmon that I have ever tasted!  @TimmyOTooles

Timothy O’Toole’s Pub was airing the final World Cup match between The Netherlands and Costa Rica, and the kids quickly became enthralled with the game (on the flat screen in our booth).

Timothy O'Toole's Pub Chicago

Timothy O’Toole’s Pub Chicago @TimmyOTooles @GracieKHarold


Watching the match in the family pub downtown Chicago was the experience of a lifetime! The cheers and collective groans of the other patrons, the smell of delicious food, the incredible service, and the universal camaraderie of knowing that we were watching history unfold was soul filling.

Monday’s post will detail more of our experience on our “Vacation Gone Awry”.


One thought on “Vacation Gone Awry

  1. Pingback: Vacation Gone Awry Part 2 |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s