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Saturday 28th July, 2001

Today we were up early and packed our bags.

Scott had a try of US McDonalds for the first time and as he had brought a football along with him we kicked that around in the hotel car park for a while.

At 10:30am we said our goodbyes to Jim and Bette and their family.   This was very difficult as they had been such good friends to us. They had driven thousands of miles to show us around and a simple thank you never seemed to be enough. Hopefully we will see them again soon.

At 11:15am Rayls, Scott and Gary took the shuttle bus to Atlanta Airport and get checked in by kerbside check in. We had lots of bags so this was convenient.

Shopped for a while and eventually arrived at departure gate T10. AA flight1141 – the aircraft was a MD80 (Super 80).

3:37pm we took on our flight to O’Hare, Chicago. Flew over Alabama towards St Louis – there was a circular route because of the weather.

Started our decent at 4:01pm and it was very cloudy/foggy to a very low altitude. We seemed to be on approach for ages.   We landed over Lake Michigan but saw very little of the lake.

Landed at 16:40 and docked at K2.

We were met by friends Dick and Becky. Dick, a Rolling Meadows police officer, was the original email pal who started all this back in 1995. In 1993 he had written to the Chief of Police, PerthWestern Australia seeking a pen pal. Gary was working in the Commissioner’s Office (the Chief) at the time and saw the letter and responded. From this snail mail letters were exchanged, then emails and even videos. Dick was sponsors to Western Australia in May 1995 for a Community Policing visit. He did numerous community talks and appeared on TV and radio. Gary and Rayls tagged along on this trip and much fun was had.

Now it was our turn and it was lovely to meet Dick again and also his lovely wife Becky. Dick and Becky took us to our hotel a Holiday Inn. After freshening up and were then taken to Dick’s house where we met his lovely daughters Jessica and Jamie.   We had a lovely barbeque dinner of hot dogs, cheeseburgers and Jessica’s brownies.

We got to go to an ice hockey game. It was just a social game but very interesting – not much ice hockey in Australia.

Then it was back to the hotel and after a chat with Ryan on the phone it was off to bed.

Sunday 29 July, 2001

Today we were picked up by Dick and his family and we went to a McDonalds for breakfast.

We drove into Chicago, very hazy sort of day.

We went to the Museum of Science and Industry and then caught a trolley bus past Soldier Field and to the FieldMuseum where we saw, amongst many other things, Sue the Dinosaur.

Walked to the Shedd Aquarium and watched a dolphin and Beluga whale show.

Caught the trolley bus back to the car and then drive to SearsTower. It took about an hour to get to the observation deck. Great view! Then we drove to the UnitedCenter where we took photos at the Michael Jordan statue.

Around 6pm we started out for Dick’s house. We all had dinner at an Outback Restaurant, interesting experience. Chatted with the owner, Erik, he always interested in speaking to Aussies. Gary said there should be cricket on the TV instead of baseball.

Just after 8pm we arrived back at Dick’s house and at 9:15pm we were back at the hotel.

Monday 30th July, 2001

We confirmed our shuttle bus to the airport for Wednesday and Scott tried out the hotel spa.

Down to the hotel ‘Holidome’ a sort of entertainment area where Gary beat Scott at Table Tennis and Scott won the one game of pool.

At 10:30 we took the shuttle bus to the Woodfield Mall. This is a major size shopping mall where we had breakfast and checked out some of the stores including a Sears where Rayls really liked the quilts.

At 12:30pm we met up with Becky, Jessica and Jamie and did more shopping. Gary and Scott tried root beer for the first time, not good!  We bought a shirt for Ryan and had a great time.

Around 2pm we drove to the Enesco factory/store. Enesco is the company that creates Rayls favourite Cherished Teddie figurines – they also create Precious Moments. Rayls had much fun here.

Around 3:30pm we went back to the hotel via Dick’s house and Jessica, Jamie and Scott had a swim in the hotel pool. Gaz took the opportunity to have a nap.

At 5:45pm we were picked up by Becky and Jamie and headed to the CountyBuffet for dinner. Dick joined us – he was on duty and in his uniform.

After dinner we checked out Dick’s patrol car (cruiser?) and met up with a police colleague who used to be a professional wrestler – he was Johnny Utah! Scott is into wrestling so that was interesting.

At 7:30pm we went to the Rolling Meadows Wal-Mart where we had photos developed. Then it was to a Best Buy – these stores are great.

On the way back to the hotel we called in to a 7-11 so that Scott could buy a drink container called an extreme gulf. This was an interesting experience and we later heard that perhaps we should not have been in this store at this time – holdups are plentiful.

9:30pm we were back at the hotel, it had been a good day.

Tuesday 31st July, 2001

Had a slow start to the day and did a bit of packing.

At 11:00am we were picked up by Dick and Dick took Gary and Scott to a Game Works at Woodfield Mall where we spent 3 hours.

Rayls went with Becky and the girls to LongGroveVillage where 19th century houses have been converted into shops. There is lots of crafts and wonderful shopping. Rayls was there for about 7 hours and covered about a third of what there was to see.

After Game Works Gary and Scott go into the Woodfield Mall and had McDonalds for am late lunch.

At 4pm they catch the shuttle bus to the hotel and relax. A boss of Dick’s visits for a short time and Dick also called in but was called to an urgent call.

Afterwards we all meet up at Dick’s house for dinner. Dick is on duty but calls in with a colleague for dinner.

We called our friend Choya to confirm things for tomorrow; he will meet us at HoustonAirport.

The evening is spent with Becky and the girls and we are then taken back to the hotel, another sad farewell.

We have enjoyed our time with Dick, Becky and their lovely girls.

Time to move on.