- Places where one can obtain food and caffeine that are within walking distance.
- Walking (though we had a nice walk with HA's uncle around not one, but 2 man-made lakes on Friday. We had to drive to both of them, though, so I still missed not having to do that.)
- My trusty humidifier
- People who swear
- Adults who raise their voices. (Kids were yelling for the usual kid reasons, but apparently, Midwesterners don't yell out of anger or out of wanting to say something to someone in the next room and not wanting to enter the next room. Since I'm from Brooklyn and have a close extended family more than twice the size of HA's, the not yelling thing strikes me as unnatural. Even the calling everyone in to dinner was a pale imitation of raising one's voice.)
- Vertical development (as opposed to horizontal development, aka sprawl). I think there may be such a thing as too much sky. I'm a city gal. It freaked me out a little.
- Restaurants where you can order a Monte Cristo and not get your sandwich deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. (It wasn't mine. I woulda sent that bad boy back because I don't eat meat-filled beignets for lunch. Or ever.)
- Restaurants where the server waits until you're finished eating your meal before asking if you want dessert. (Naw, just slap some chocolate sauce on this baked potato I'm still working on.)
Cool Things I Discovered in the Midwest:
- You can buy cheese in the gift shops of Milwaukee airport. It is not refrigerated and yet does not spoil. I can only assume they use the same magical food preservation technology behind Swiss Colony meat and cheese assortments. (Oh how I loved it when my parents got one of those as a hostess gift.) We totally bought one. It is glorious.
- The gift shops of Milwaukee airport also sell sweatshirts that say "Nothing Tips Like a Cow" and the famous Wisconsin cheese hats.
- Since Milwaukee is the main hub of Midwest Airlines, it's where the planes fill up on potable water. Since Milwaukee is freaking cold in the winter, this means the system freezes up and there's little to no drinkable water on the planes, and therefore no coffee. But there's a nice place to buy coffee in the Milwaukee airport and the copious delays caused by weather in other places means I had plenty of time to obtain and consume a Cafe Mocha.
- If you bring your own instant espresso because your relatives don't do caffeine, you can grab the chocolate syrup while getting the milk and make your own Cafe Mocha and no one will be the wiser.
- Gift shops at Kansas City International Airport now sell bottles of BBQ sauce small enough to take through security. (The checkpoints are right before the gates, so the only thing you can buy once you've gone through security is a small assortment of beverages. So you don't go through security until you absolutely have to. Which means being tempted to buy one of the boxes of assorted BBQ sauces that you'd end up having to have shipped home because of the liquid ban. Considering that some of the security checkpoints are less than 15 feet away from the gift shops, you'd really think that they'd make an exception.)
- You can also buy an entire rack of baby back ribs at the gift shops of Kansas City International Airport. They're refrigerated so I have no idea how we'd get them home to NYC. Though next time we visit, maybe we'll pick up some ribs and sauce on our way to baggage claim and tell whoever's picking us up that we've got dinner covered.
So, what do you miss when visiting family? And what cool things have you discovered?