s-nowmen.JPG         Well, we are back!!  We left Ponce on December 18 to fly to Illinois to visit our families for Christmas.  It was very easy to pack as we had limited winter clothes, but luckily my sister Carol and her husband Steve, fixed us up with boots, gloves, and coats.  It was cold, but not too cold.  Two days before we arrived, ten inches of snow covered the ground.  The day before we left, we got another snowfall, enough for us each to make a snowman!  The visit went well, with my mom cooking us great meals, including our favorite Chicken and Dumplings!    Tristan and Tessa were so happy to see Grandma and Grandpa!   Grandma and Grandpa couldn’t believe how much they had grown.  pc200003.JPG           tessa-and-grandpa.JPG          linda-jerry-and-rasta.JPG    They had alot of catching up to do.  It was so good to see our dog Rasta whom my sister Linda and her husband Jerry are doing a great job of taking care of.  We really miss him, but know he is happy and in good hands.                    

We were also lucky to see our good friends Karen and David and their family from Asheville NC.  They were up to see their  families, and we met halfway.  It was too short a visit, but so needed!!!  They have been our friends for nearly 15 years, and our kids have grown up together in Charlotte, until they moved to Asheville.  Hopefully they will get to come to the Caribbean and visit us. molli.JPG  molli-kids.JPG  All too soon it was the 29th and we were headed back to O’Hare to fly back to San Juan.  A couple of little snags though.  We didn’t have a rental car lined up once we got into San Juan, and our flight was coming in so late, the taxi service wasn’t available.  Dan spent the entire night before on the computer trying to get a rental car but they were all sold out.  As we headed to the airport that morning, we weren’t sure what to expect.  We hit the first snag at the tollbooth.  The tollbooths have changed to the main lanes being  the IPASS lane and two or three side lanes for those drivers like me who use change.  Even though I had driven through them on the way from the airport, I forgot on the way back, and found myself in the IPASS lane.  I did remember reading on the rental car agreement a $150.00 fine if you go through IPASS and don’t have an IPASS sticker.  Since I missed the cutoff to the regular tollbooth lanes, I did the only logical thing.  I stopped.  On the expressway.  Directly under the camera which was taking several pictures of my car in violation.  Somehow I thought that if I didn’t actually  pass under the cameras I would be ok, but there was no place to go.  I thought about backing up, but I am sure that had its own set of violations.  So there I was, frozen, with my face plastered against the windshield big as day, looking up at the cameras, mouth hanging open,  while Dan was yelling, “What are you doing?” and the lady behind me was blowing her horn and pointing to a sign on the side of the road. 

“Well I don’t know  what to do!” I cried.

“You can’t stay here!” Dan always offers such good insight.

The lady behind me beeps in agreement.  But my head is saying “$150.00 fine.”

Dan and Tristan find a sign alongside the road stating, Missed Tolls go to Illinois Tollways.com.  This means me.  So reluctantly I head on, keeping a sharp eye out for a policeman.  Without further incidents, we make it to the rental car return.  The guy checking the car in greets us decked out in a snowmobile suit and face mask.  He notices the high heeled sandals I am wearing and says, “You must be going someplace warm!  Your toes are out.” I love that!!  I am going someplace warm!  I’m going home to Puerto Rico!! 

We had an easy check in and our flight, and connecting flight were on time.  However when we got to San Juan about 11:30 pm, one of our bags didn’t make it.  We waited and waited and finally filed a missing bag claim.  Luckily though, we found National car rental had a few SUV’s left and at 1:00 am I was making my leisurely choice between the Jeep Patriot, the Dodge Nitro and a Suzuki something.  The guy was very patient as I flitted between vehicle and vehicle saying, “OOHH Dodge Nitro what’s that like?  OOhh Jeep Patriot, what’s that like?”  I’m sure they really appreciated my 1:00 am perkiness!!  Finally, I chose the Patriot and we were on our way to Ponce.  Almost and hour and a half later, we arrived at Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club, and Alegria.  It was good to be home!!