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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chile 7.1

You remember how yesterday (or what feels like) I reported that we were down to 10 weeks? Well it is a nanosecond later and we are down to 7 weeks and 1 day. How does time speed up like this? We have started a count down calendar and we are down to 50 sleeps.

I am sitting on my loveseat in my living room enjoying a Blizzard raging outside (by the way...Yay Snow Days!!!). I can't believe in 7 short weeks we will be enjoying the end of Summer/beginning of Fall in Chile. I am so looking forward to some warmer weather.

The best part of the Snow Day is that I can dedicate my day to researching the trip with no guilt. I don't have to try to sneak in internet time while at work and everyone knows that cleaning the house is not allowed on a bonus free day.

So I have pretty big news to share about the trip (hmmm...I wonder if I should have started the post with the news. I got distracted by the blizzard outside). So as you are probably aware if you have been reading about my trip plans, my Mom, Gabrian, and I are going on the trip. Riley had chosen to stay behind. He felt he was getting to old to go on Family trips and we had just come back from Disney when we brought up the subject of this trip. On top of that we are going to be gone for almost 3 weeks and it was just too much school for him to miss. So up until a couple of weeks ago the plan was that Riley would stay home with a family friend while we were away.

Riley broke down 2 weeks ago and admitted that he wished that he was going with us and loves Chile. He also stated that he would never turn down another vacation even when he is in College (smart guy!). I am sure you can guess where this announcement is going! My Mom, Riley, and I (Gabrian got no say so :-))talked about it and decided that Riley will come with us for part of the trip!!!!

Everyone except for Riley will leave for the trip on March 18th. During this time we will visit family in Pucon. Riley will leave on the 26th and arrive in Santiago on the 27th. He will spend the first night in Santiago with family and then meet us on the road to finish up our road trip. We will head back to Santiago and spend the last week together. We will travel back together to the US on the 3rd and arrive in Boston on the 4th. We felt this was a good compromise. He is able to spend 8 nights in Chile with us and still minimize the amount of time he will miss school. He knows that he will be expected to keep up with his classwork while there. He will take advantage of the long flight to work on it and is prepared to spend some of his evenings working in the apartment.

I can't even begin to tell you how excited that Riley will be joining us in Chile! I never wanted him to feel bad or pressured about staying home but now that he is going, I can shout it out to the world..."I never want to travel without my kids!!".

With the decision made so late to have Riley go I was afraid we were going to be priced out a ticket for him (as it is we had to scrounge everywhere to come up with the ticket money and Riley has to pay a portion of the ticket). I spent a whole Friday night researching every option that I could think of. I started with Expedia and Sky Scanner to get an idea of what prices were coming in at. We would have preferred to have him fly out of Portland but were also considering Boston. The cheapest we could find doing these methods was $1247 out of Boston. I than started to search each airline's website individually. On the third to last airline I struck gold! I was able to score Riley a ticket out of Boston for $1031. The best part is that we are able to fly back from Santiago with him (how about that luck!).

Now that we have the ticket settled our next step was to figure out the schedule to find out where Riley will meet up with us. We were hoping to have him meet us in Curico for Vendimia (Wine worries, we weren't going to let him drink the wine) but we finally found out the date of the Festival and it is the weekend before so sadly we will have to go without him.

Our plan is to have him meet us in Talca which is about 4 hours from Santiago. It sounds like a really pretty town to explore. The big draw for us though is the Rodeo. The Chilean Rodeo is definitely different from a Rodeo here. I am not quite sure of the rules but what I enjoy the most out of it is watching the horses run sideways. It is one of the neatest things I have ever seen and I look forward to seeing it again along with my Mom and the kids.

So that is where we are right now. We are still searching for a Hotel in Talca but have it narrowed down. We were able to extend our rental car to accommodate our trip to Talca. Riley is all set to go and we just need to finish off coordinating the meet-up with our Family in Chile. It is definitely coming together.

Only 7.1 Weeks to Chile (don't worry...I will be boring you with details until the day we will only get worse when we are there and I feel the need to update you on the trip everyday :-)).

I will leave you with a few pictures that have nothing to do with Chile but during our Blizzard today I found a couple of old SD Cards and had a field day going through them!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow Day Eve

I am so excited for our first major storm of the season in Portland. I was starting to think we weren't going to get any big snow falls this winter. I love the calm before the storm and waiting for the even to happen.

I went out at lunch today to get gas at Sam's Club ($1.98/gallon...can I tell you how much I am loving that!). It was chaotic near the pumps and I was lucky to get a place in the line before it got nasty out there. They should have had a couple of attendants out there directing the traffic to avoid the confusion. There was lots of beeping and angry shouting going on out there.

After filling up the car I headed over to Shaw's Supermarket. I needed absolutely no food from the market but somehow $25 worth of food and bird seed made it into my cart. Snow storms just bring out the junk food craving from me. There is a lot of Reese's and Ramen Noodle Soup in my future tomorrow.

Around 2 this afternoon we received an email letting us know that the office will be closed tomorrow. That never happens, usually we are expected to come in no matter what. Even on the days we get off, we don't find out until 5:30 in the morning when the automated system calls us. This must be a major storm if they are willing to cancel so far in the future.

Later that afternoon the boy's schools called me to let me know that they are cancelled tomorrow as well. I was pretty positive that they weren't going in but it is nice to know ahead of time. The boys were excited when I let them know last night.

When we got home we got some last minute things done to be prepared. Living in a condo there isn't much to do since they take care of all snow removal other than digging out your own car. We filled the bird feeders to make sure they are taken care of and we are still able to walk in the back yard. Riley also brought out the trash so we could start with an empty bag.

We are ready for our Snow Day! Can't wait to see how much we get!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Huge Announcement!

Awhile back I had mentioned that I had a new project that was in the works. I am so happy to say that the day has finally come that I can announce it!

My best friend Jen and I have started a new blog together! How awesome is it to do a huge project with your best friend!! We have created Challenge TBD. T!he first year we are doing a Deck-the-Savings Challenge. We plan on spending no more than $50 on our Christmas presents this year out of pocket. The rest we are going to earn doing various things. Anything from taking surveys online, selling things we have around the house, to using Shop Kicks when we are out and about on our errands.

I will also be doing a mini-challenge for the next 9 weeks while I prepare for the trip to Chile. I am hoping to earn some money or gift cards that will help with the costs for the trip. Anything that I can earn in the next 9 weeks will help!

If you are looking for a challenge that will help your pocketbook than this is the site for you. We would love to have people join us in our journey to an affordable Christmas!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Holy Cow - 10 Weeks!

It feels like the other day I was talking about really wanting to plan a trip to Chile. I blinked and we are down to 10 weeks until we leave for our big adventure! I can't wait to go and at the same time need more time to save.

Things are really coming along. We just got the final passport in the other day. It was so nice to get my shiny new one that is good for another 10 years. Gabrian got in on the excitement when his book came in. He spent a good 30 minutes poring over the pages through the book.

Our flights have been booked and I managed to come up with a crazy flying scenario all in the name of saving money. I really thought I managed to beat the system with my plan. We are flying from Boston to Lima, Peru (arriving at 11:30 pm the say day).  The following morning we are flying to Santiago. We originally thought we would spend a couple of days in Lima but in the end decided we didn't want to give up any time in Chile. In total we spent just over $900/person for the two flights. I just checked on Expedia and the current price booking directly to Santiago is $1184. So a pretty good savings with a little bit of craziness. I am currently stalking megabus to open up the dates we are traveling so I can grab some of their awesome $1 fares.

Our first night we are going to stay in Santiago at Hotel Gen. The pictures of the breakfast buffet really won us over. That and they have balconies which is something we really look forward to relaxing on that night with a bottle of great Chilean wine and cheese. The reviews seem mixed on this place but the price was decent (just over $100) and it is only for one night. Our plan for that day is to maybe take a short nap when we check-in and then take it easy exploring the neighborhood of the hotel. We would like to find a restaurant with some outdoor seating and go back to the room fairly early that night. I am not sure if we will meet up with our Family in Santiago that first night.

The next morning we will pick up our rental car. We looked everywhere and really thought we were going to take a bus down to Pucon or maybe even a plane but then we discovered Chilean RentaCar. We were able to rent the most basic of basic cars for nine days for $258 all inclusive (according to today's current exchange rate). We are beyond excited to get the rental car. It is our favorite way to travel in Chile. It allows us to see so much and stop at whatever we find interesting.

We are still waiting for the dates of Vendimia in Curico to be released. It is an annual wine festival held in the town of Curico. My Mom and I were fortunate to catch it when she visited me on my study abroad in 2006. We have been dying to go back ever since. We believe it will either happen the first weekend we are there are the following. We will adjust our schedule to whatever weekend it is held to make sure we go again. We also plan on having lunch at Miguel Torres while we are in Curico. It is our absolute favorite winery and place to eat. I can't wait to go back!

We will eventually make our way down to Pucon (which is the main purpose of the trip and why Leo offered to pay for Gabrian's plane ticket). We will spend about a week there in a house that Leo will rent for us. We are so happy that he was able to rent the house that is only a couple of houses down from his Mother's house. This means Gabrian will get to spend tons of time with his Abuela.

We will be back in Santiago by March 29th which is when the rental car is due back. We will spend our last five nights in there. We are trying out Airbnb rental. We are renting an apartment (a loft actually) in one of the most desirable neighborhoods...for tourists at least. It is close to the metro and there is a supermarket on the ground floor of the building. There is an awesome roof deck and an indoor pool with amazing views. We are getting all of this for $268 for the five nights. The reviews are awesome and we can't wait to stay at our Loft. While we are in Santiago we are starting to build a list of places we want to visit. We want to visit with our Family in Santiago, go to the Buin Zoo, go shopping, Cerro San Cristobal and many other places.

I feel like there is so much to do to get ready in 10 weeks! I need to bring out the Rosetta Stone and really get serious about. I have restarted at Weight Watchers (again....posts about how that is going will be along shortly). I need to save, save, and save some more. I want to have a good time while I am there!

I would like to blog on the trip while I am there. I am not sure how I will do it. I hate to drag along the lap top but feel that if I don't do it while I am there it probably won't happen. Maybe I will just keep a really great trip journal and blog about it when I get home. I would like to give you a day to day recap of what happens (more for me than you so I can really remember the trip). The other thing about the trip that I would like to analyze and probably talk about forever with you guys is to investigate and see if a move to Chile is a possibility. What would I have to do to make it happen. Do I still love Chile as much as I think I remember loving it? How affordable is it to live in Santiago? Any ideas of getting a job? Ok, I am getting ahead of myself but these are all questions I will be asking myself while I am there.

I am sure there will be more trip planning before the big day but I think for now that is all I have. I hate to leave you with no pictures so I am adding some in from our trip to Disney this past August (that I never blogged about...I really hope I get my act together for the Chile trip!