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As I mentioned back in the introduction to our 2014 family reunion vacation, we had decided that rather than flying Southwest out of Dayton and spending the whole day in the airport there and back, it would be better to drive to Chicago so we could get a direct flight from Midway to Reno.

Our stay outbound was at the Holiday Inn Chicago Countryside and was mostly pleasant.  Because we had parked our van there, we were taking their shuttle back from the airport.

As our flight kept getting delayed (and delayed), I kept trying to sync up with the hotel and/or shuttle driver.  Because the hotel is a bit further away from the airport, they only run every hour or so.  It took 3-4 calls but we finally got on board the shuttle about 12:30 a.m.

Hotel to Hotel

In talking with the Chicago Countryside hotel and driver, I was a little vague about whether we were staying another night there or not.  While we were on vacation, the IHG PointBreaks list for August and September came out, so we picked the Holiday Inn Express over in Downers Grove that was on the list.  It was about 20-30 minutes further into Chicago (the wrong direction), but that was worth it for me to save 20,000 IHG points.

So we got back to the Holiday Inn Chicago Countryside, then loaded up the van, and drove over to Downers Grove.  By this time everybody was hungry so we stopped at the Burger King drivethru before getting to our hotel about 1:30 a.m.  Ironically, this was the same hotel that I stayed at back in 2007 when doing some training for work.

Connecting rooms

As I have mentioned before, one of the big things that we really look for in a hotel is if they have connecting rooms.  Because there are 8 of us we (usually) need 2 rooms, and a connecting room means the difference between me sleeping in the same bed as my wife (good) vs. me sleeping in the same bed with a 5 year old (bad).

When we got there, we found that the hotel DID have connecting rooms (good) but had NOT assigned us to connecting rooms (bad).  I turned around and went back to the front desk and asked if they could put us in connecting rooms and they were able to give us 2 different rooms.

Messing with time

One of my favorite annual tricks is when it’s Daylight Savings time, I tell the kids they can stay up a half hour later, but only AFTER I’ve set the clocks ahead

It took awhile before everyone got settled down and into bed – probably about 2:00 a.m. which was NOT a fun time.  So along the same vein, after everyone was asleep, I set everyone’s clocks back an hour.

My thinking was that when the kids woke up and looked at the clock and saw that it said 6 a.m. they’d go back to bed because it was too early (even though it was actually 7 a.m.).  Perhaps this just seemed like a good idea in the delirious haze of 2 a.m…..

I don’t know if that actually had any effect, or if everyone was just tired, or if the dark curtains helped, but everyone slept soundly, all the way through the night, until I had to wake them up at 9:30 in order to get breakfast.  That is the first time that’s ever happened since, oh, the first of NEVER.


Breakfast was very good – your standard hotel fare including a few hot items (eggs, sausage, etc.)  I was particularly intrigued by the fact that instead of the traditional waffle-maker that they had a PANCAKE maker.


Waffle maker? Oh no, it’s a PANCAKE maker!!

I have to say I was a bit confused by this newfangled invention!  The instructions said to press the button for 2 pancakes.  I didn’t WANT 2 pancakes (only 1) but I saw no other instructions so I just hit the button.  My confusion must have been apparent, as the worker instructed me to make sure and put my plate down on the counter.

Sure enough, shortly thereafter a pancake came right off the assembly line!  The pancake itself wasn’t anything special, but I did enjoy the novelty of the pancake maker machine.

One thing about flying back on a Friday was that we could afford to just take our time heading back home rather than feeling rushed.  After breakfast the kids played in the lobby and our room


Sorry for the blurry picture – the kids are just moving THAT fast 😀

Points With a Crew hotel rating: 4.5 stars (minus 0.5 star for no swimming pool as well as I wasn’t there long enough to experience the whole thing)


Many hotels have waffle makers, but how about a pancake maker at breakfast!

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