So we have finally made it to Kenosha after a very loooong early morning drive from Waterloo, IL. We said goodbye to my aunty and her husband Brian in the wee hours and pushed off north towards Chicago at about 5 a.m. I was a touch grouchy in the morning but happy to be on the road headed towards the big highlight of our trip – which is meeting all the boys from Team Pizza for the first time.
If you are a longtime follower of my blog, you will know that the boyfriend is an EVE Online gamer and what that entails. For those of you who are new to this piece of information, it simply means that R. and I tend to travel with the intention of meeting up with other gamer members of his team. I never thought I would ever hear myself say this but it is a great way to combine social events with international travel.
Our first “meet the gamers” journey really began back in 2012 at the 10th EVE Fanfest in Reykjavic, Iceland where we got to meet only a small portion of the team members because not everyone could make the trip, but it was a start and R. got to mingle with the other gamers from other teams and alliances. It was a fun week and I enjoyed myself even more than I ever dared to admit at first. I am not an EVE gamer myself but having been with R for so long I do get the gist of the game and I no longer feel so alienated from it and its players. Since then I have attended EVE-based events and holidays in Croatia, Ireland and now north America.
Once we picked up SM Cool from Chicago O’Hare, the only other non-American gamer who is from Switzerland, we drove straight to our Airbnb rental. Upon arrival I was struck by how absolutely stunning this house really was in reality … so much better than the pictures on the Airbnb website. This house is HUGE. It boasts six bedrooms spread across three levels. A massive kitchen-dining-entertainment area and a second lounge area near the front doors of the property. It also comes with facilities that make a weekend so much more enjoyable : pool table, table tennis in the garage, net ball, hot tub round the back, Xbox and other gaming consoles, BBQ grills, fire pits and just space everywhere to rest and relax. The views across the lake were stunning and there were enough windows throughout the house to see this from any angle.
We were of course the first to arrive and so we got to have dibs on the bedrooms we wanted. Pretty soon the house began to fill up with gamer guests … I was the only girl in that house all weekend. In total there were fourteen of us and another 2 people drove in for just a day visit. Everybody was kind of meeting up for the first time and it was exciting to actually put a name to the voice. Everytime they game online they are always on TeamSpeak so I recognize the voices but do not know the faces they belong to. That first evening every one was running around with name tags displaying their online names along with their real names as people slowly got to know one another.
There were a couple of familiar faces that weekend; Dom and Spujo were with us four years ago in Iceland and it was so nice to see them again after so long. Everybody else was a new aquaintance … well maybe not for Viarr because we actually met up in NYC a couple of weeks prior and had brunch with him and his lovely wife, also named Vivienne.
That first night spirits were running high and so was the flow of alcohol. Dom was our in-house DJ and all round bartender, churning out the beats and handing out the rounds of whiskey shots. I stayed in the background taking random photos, not making my presence felt too much and generally being out of sight. The Texan brothers were probably the last of the main bunch to arrive, Kaiber and Yolo. They got one of the last beds available … in the basement and they had to share it. Haha.
As the evening wore on the noise got louder and the people for drunker. Food was plenty and arrived in the form of ten large pizzas, all $200 worth. This is the thing I like about America … they do pretty amazing pizzas. It was a bit of a hassle getting the pizzas actually because the nearest outlet was closed due to the nice Italian owners being away in Italy! Gah … so the next best option was about 7 miles away and they did not do delivery to our postcode. Bunnz and Lord Azori ended up going out there to pick em all up. God, it took forever and I was starving. In the meantime, everyone occupied themselves playing pool and drinking some more.
Eventually those pizzas turned up and a food frenzy soon ensued.
Team director R. could not have chosen a better place for us to have this weekend. I mean the house was just designed for this party and everything was perfect from the large entertaining space to the awesome open plan kitchen which was the hub of the house where everybody eventually spent most of their time gathered round and close to all the food, snacks and beer. Speaking of beer … let me just say that the fridge had space for little else. Each and every person who walked in to the property came armed with alcohol of some kind and within a few hours that fridge was nothing but a beer cooler. No food could get in there.
Thankfully there was a second fridge in the basement and we used that to store food and leftover pizza. Have I told you this house rocks?
The other nice thing about this house is its noise control. I was happily installed upstairs in the master bedroom and I was not disturbed in the slightest by all the commotion downstairs. I divided my time playing World of Warcraft in my room and going downstairs to take more pictures and pinch bowls of snack food. I really liked my room so I endeavored to spend as much time in there as I could.
The next morning I was greeted by a few very tired and hungover faces, all huddled by the kitchen counter, pouring mugs and mugs of coffee and stuffing faces with leftover snack food. They must be hungry. I jump into chef mode and R. helped me prep breakfast for the hungry horde – cheesey scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. I had to make two lots as the first vanished in minutes. Second lot was a good idea and it fed the late risers.
After breakfast the lads helped clean up and then they were all busy with boardgames and poker. Funny how many of them said their respective partners looked at them with a very skeptical eye when they were told of the boys’ weekend away at this lake house. Some asked what exactly was going to happen on the weekend, some were hesitant to find out. I think when men say they are off on a lads’ weekend away wives and girlfriends get understandably nervous, especially when alcohol gets involved. However, this was not the case here. Everything went smoothly and it was tamer than I expected. No one ran screaming into the night (or the neighbour’s lawn) stark naked, no one broke any pieces of furniture, no one puked in their beds and we definitely did not have the cops called on us. Nope, video games and board games were the order of the day. Some even ventured outside to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and lake views.
Saturday was also the day for the big BBQ cookout, so sometime in the afternoon we all tromped off to Walmart to get prepared. The Texans were going to make ribs so I decided to add to the dinner menu by making the accompanying salads. I went so far as to make two salads, neither with too many leaves in it seeing as which I was in the presence of mainly meat eaters. One was a zesty tomato and avocado salad with garlic croutons, the other was a regular pasta salad with cucumbers and radish. R. suggested I make some chicken dish as well so we made an Asian-style honey and soy chicken thighs. Somebody made scalloped potatoes and someone else contributed the starters – jalapeno poppers with bacon.
It was a good night. There was plenty of food and laughs … the place smelled great! No one set anything on fire, except maybe that grill but we soon got it under control. Fires were lit in the fire pit and people sat about enjoying the rest of the evening in relative good humour. At some point that night I treated myself to a luxurious bubble bath in the massive Whirlpool tub in my bathroom. I could even watch tv while I got pruney.
On Sunday things were very mellow and people just took things easy. I stayed most of the afternoon in my room sorting out pictures and Warcraft – but not before making breakfast again for everybody. This time I made cheese and bacon omelettes and banana pancakes – a lot of hungry mouths to feed. Lucky the griddle could make six pancakes at a time.
After breakfast a poker tournament got underway which was paid for in ISK (in-game currency). Others either played table tennis or had a soak in the hot tub out back. The house was so big that at no time during our stay there did we ever feel overly crowded with fourteen people. There was enough space and enough entertainment both indoors and out to occupy everybody. At some point during the past evening Dom rolled his ankle so he spent the rest of the weekend playing Path of Exiles on his laptop, but he was never isolated as he was always in the same space with everybody else. Cool house! It wasn’t exactly cheap to rent – for 3 nights it cost us about $2,200 – but divide that amongst fourteen people and you are good as gold. Climate control in the house was never an issue unless you were one of the three sleeping in the basement room – apparently it was freezing down there. The artwork on the walls and the sculptures in the livingrooms all added a nice touch of elegance to the place.
Some people left early that Sunday morning itself but most stayed for one more night. Leftover food was picked at and we cooked up more of that honey and soy chicken – it made for a good lunch. Apparently everybody loved my tomato and avocado salad, got rave reviews. Yay. The beer fridge showed no signs of emptying. In fact, it never got emptied. When we checked out on Monday morning the boys took what they could and simply left the rest.
That evening a board game session was to take place that would prove both epic and silly at the same time … it lasted TEN HOURS! And from what I hear, no one was really in to it in the first place. R. said he was frustrated most of the time and each turn took so long but they took it as a challenge to finish the game. It ended at 5 a.m, when most were took sleepy/drunk to care very much anymore. I think in the end someone forced the win by casting a card that ensured Sgt Sack finished the game once and for all. Hooray. The players were more relieved than anything else by that point as this meant everyone could now crawl into bed and get some sleep before hitting the road again later that day before noon. The boyfriend did not get to bed until 7 a.m because he had to send someone off to the bus station for him to catch a flight back from O’Hare. I was pretty much up by the time he got in. I went down to clean up and make the house look decent, made coffee and a bite to eat.
Rest of the house started stirring about 9 a.m. Barely. By noon I deemed the house to be in good order and we piled into our rented SUV along with Viarr and Dom who we were dropping off at O’Hare International Airport – yes, we were pretty much the designated airport shuttle service. Their flights were not until 4 p.m that afternoon so we stopped for some lunch; there is no way one can visit Chicago and not have the deep-dish pizza experience, and where better to have said experience than at Giordano’s.
To be honest I really thought the pizza would just be a lot of hype and that it would not be as good as it looked – I mean, all that dough tho. But in reality the pizza was actually bloody good even if I could only manage a single slice. The ooey-gooey filling was very flavourful and the dough was not as heavy as I thought it would be. So Chicago deep dish pizza – check.
From here we head east to see my cousin Fiona who lives in Troy, Michigan for just an overnight stay. It had been a really fun-filled weekend. We made a lot of new friends who we hope to see again at future EVE events most notably Fanfest 2017 in Iceland and I have to say this has probably been the best Airbnb rental we have had to date. Below I have included a link to more pictures of the house which I have uploaded to a gallery on Imgur. Please ignore the fact that is says Kenosha, Michigan on the album … I must have been sleepy when I compiled it and now I cannot change it on Imgur. Doh!
~ Enjoy ~
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