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You have to love or hate this new contraption, and I think it will depend on if you have one or not! The Knee Defender stops reclining seatbacks so the person in front of you will love you (smile). According to their website, with Knee Defender the "Tall Guy" - actually, tall women as well as tall men -- can now use a simple, convenient, pocket-sized device (a little larger than a pack of mints) to help defend against most flying seatbacks. It costs $9.95, and if I were you I would buy one before they are banned. Click here to see how it works
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Wow, what a week this has been. Those of you who are new subscribers (fortunately there are many, thanks to last week's PBS Chicago appearance -- more on that later) will need to read last week's newsletter to understand this week's. The quick version is: I got engaged. The long version is right here at your fingertips.
I must tell you Amber Airplane and I were contemplating not telling you guys every detail of my proposal because it's so personal, but we quickly realized that you are our extended family, and should know the whole story. We knew we made the right decision less than a minute after sending the newsletter. That's right -- not even a minute after hitting the “send” button emails and IM's flooded in. It was amazing! I learned that some of you can read almost as fast as my dad (he can read a book in 20 minutes -- and write a report on it). In the first hour alone we received a few hundred emails. Every single one was full of congratulations and love. THANK YOU! We really appreciate it. You guys are the best.
Amber Airplane and I spent most of Wednesday reading all those emails together at my (soon to be “our”) cousin’s house in Chicago. But before I tell you about our trip to Chi-Town, let me say that we included a bunch of the emails in our "Reader Air Email" section, so don't forget to scroll down after reading this week's story. All the emails were great, but this one particularly touched me. It’s from my buddy JP, who was with us at Hollister Ranch before I popped the big question. He wrote: "CONGRATULATIONS! What a great story...I have to tell you, Peter, Tania, Glenn and I were in the bus driving back to our cars. Tania saw a falling star and we all turned and saw it...." Now how amazing is that? They must've seen the same falling star!
As you might have imagined, it's been a whirlwind time. One reason is because we didn't tell anyone for almost a week that we were engaged, so we had all these bottled-up emotions we were waiting to release. Why didn't we tell anyone? Well, I didn't tell you the whole story. I actually did not have the ring on top of the hill (I’m sorry I fibbed last week, but it painted a better picture, didn't it?). As you will read, that turned out better in the long run for Amber Airplane, because she got two proposals, not one.
While Amber and I were up on that special hill, we agreed to keep our engagement a secret until she had a ring on her finger. I told her I would have the ring within a month (I knew it would be just a few days, but I wanted to keep her guessing). I actually ordered the ring a long time ago from my cousin AJ's jeweler in New York. I had AJ hold onto the ring for me so Amber wouldn't find it. AJ lives in New York, so I figured when it was the right time to pop the question I would do it there (or at least pick it up there). But the hill on Hollister Ranch brought out so much love in me that I couldn't wait any longer. BTW: How much opposite can you get than Hollister Ranch and New York?
It was time for Amber Airplane's sister and niece to go back home to Cleveland after spending a week and a half visiting us in L.A. Like a good sister, Amber Airplane decided to fly home with them to help manage Chloe and personally tell her mom the big news. I had a TV interview in Chicago, so Amber Airplane agreed to meet me there on her way back to L.A. It was also time for us to visit my (soon-to-be “our”) cousins who live on the North Shore. I flew to ORD on Monday morning. Amber Airplane met me at the gate, and cousin Dennis picked us up at the airport. Instead of going straight to Dennis' home we surprised his son Willem at school. We then went to their house, where we broke the big news to the whole family (Dennis, his wife Sheridan, daughter Bea and son Willem).
It was pretty emotional the way we told them. I wrote last week's newsletter on the flight to Chicago, so when we got to their house I told Sheridan to sit on Dennis' lap and read the newsletter I was about to send out. I said, “Make sure you read it out loud so everyone can hear.” When she got to the proposal I could hear Amber Airplane -- sitting next to them working on her lap top -- sniffling.
It's always great to stay with my Chicago cousins. Not only are they so cool, and have a cozy house with WiFi, but Sheridan is an amazing chef so we always eat like royalty. After her famous rendang (spicy Indonesian beef) we went over to their friends’ house to watch the Bears get crushed by the Packers on Monday Night Football. As you know the game was lame, and we left at halftime. When we got home I realized my cousin Dennis is a little weird. Have you ever seen someone sprinkle parmesan cheese on dog food? He said that was the only way Braize (the dog) will eat his food. Can you tell the dog grew up in an Italian household and lives near the Wisconsin border?
On Wednesday night I was asked to be a guest on the popular Chicago show " Chicago Tonight", which airs every week night on PBS TV (Channel 11) at 7 p.m. I have worked many times with host Bob Sirot on his radio gig. He is also the co-host for Travel Channel Radio. Bob is the coolest guy to work with, and I think the show went well. They asked me to come back on a regular basis, so you know what that means: Frequent visits to Chicago.
That's great news to Amber Airplane, because Chicago is her favorite city. It was where she lived when I met her, and she is always happy to go back. I knew this was the place to give her the ring 30 minutes after landing, not New York, Paris or any other place I had contemplated. When we got to Dennis' house I went outside, secretly called AJ and said, "It's time! Please overnight the merchandise (ring) to your brother's house in Chicago.” The next morning I waited for the FedEx guy, to intercept him before he rang the bell.
Sneaky and wise cousin Dennis saw me get the package outside. He asked, “What’s that? Asthma medication?” I said, “Yeah, asthma medication.” Minutes later AJ called to see if the goods were delivered, and Dennis overheard me say “The Eagle has landed.” That blew the cover. I knew Dennis knew what was really in that package, so I asked for his advice on where I should give her the ring. I knew I had to do it somewhere downtown, but wasn't sure where. Dennis said it was easy; the best place is the Signature Room. It’s on the top floor of the John Hancock building, which after 9/11 is now the fourth tallest building in the U.S. It is the 14th tallest building in the world today, if you count the Petronas Towers in Malaysia as one.
I agreed with Dennis that the Signature Room was the right place. Now my big dilemma was how to get Amber Airplane there without her knowing what's going on. Dennis and I came up with a master plan. Amber Airplane knew that he had to go into the city for a dinner appointment. But she didn't know that when he came to say goodbye to us, that I would say, "Hey, can we get a ride to the city with you? We’ll grab a bite to eat down there at one of my favorite places.”
Amber Airplane and I were working on our laptops when he came down to say he was leaving. I asked Dennis if we could go, and he said it was a great idea. He added, “How about after my dinner meeting and your dinner we meet at the Signature Room for a drink to celebrate your engagement?” Amber Airplane took the bait. I played it off, saying, "I don't know. Ever since 9/11, I don't feel that comfortable in tall touristy buildings in big cities.” That is partly true, but I made it sound worse so she would beg me to go up there. She did.
When Dennis dropped us off at Michigan Avenue, I said we should walk around a bit and then go to her favorite restaurant. Amber Airplane said she wasn’t very hungry, and was in the mood for my favorite Chicago restaurant. Food Life is a gigantic food court with more than a dozen stations, including self-service Mexican, Italian, Asian, vegetarian, burgers and a bakery. What's nice about this place is you get a card that records your purchases at each station, so you can pay all at once when you leave. Food Life: 835 N. Michigan Ave. (Water Tower Place), Chicago; tel.: (312) 335-3663.
We walked around Michigan Avenue. I had to hold on to Amber Airplane’s hand so she wouldn't go into every store (she was frothing at the mouth to spend money). I also had to hold her hand because she kept trying to put her arm around me, and just missed feeling the ring box a few times. My nerves were almost shot, because I hate when surprises don't go as planned.
We made one stop on Michigan Avenue. It was at Garrett's Popcorn Shop which always has a line out the door. This place has delicious flavored popcorn -- and high prices. I don't know if this is typical, but the workers weren't very friendly. In fact, they were actually rude to us and the people behind us. Garrett Popcorn Shop , 670 N Michigan Ave., Chicago; tel.: (312) 944-2630.
We walked a few blocks down the cold streets and went to diner at Food Life. I thought of a potential roadblock, so I went to the bathroom and called Dennis on his cell. I asked if the John Hancock has security or metal detectors. That could have disrupted the entire ring plan.
It turned out there was no security at all, and the nonstop elevator took less than a minute to the top. It was smooth ride, but it’s best to chew gum or swallow to pop your ears. Here's a great tip: Instead of going to the John Hancock Observatory on the 94th floor and paying $9.75 for adults (the fee for seniors 62 and up is $7.75, for children ages 5 to 12 it’s $6.00, and children 4 and under are free), go to the Signature room Lounge. It's two floors higher, quieter -- and free! Well, almost free. You do need to buy a drink, but a soda cost $5, beer $6.50 and champagne $9. It's much cheaper, less crowded, and more laid back. The views from up there are post card-perfect. On a clear day you can see up to 80 miles and four states.
The Hancock Observatory, on the 94th floor open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Signature Room Grille on the 95th floor is open for dinner on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The Signature Room Lounge on the 96th Floor is open Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday-Saturday 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
All located at 875 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
It was a glorious night, and we were able to snag a table by the window. The sky was crystal clear, the moon was shining, and the Sears Tower (the second tallest building in the world) was lit by pink lights. Yes, pink – Amber Airplane's favorite color. Both of us said we have never seen it lit that way. I knew this was the time and place to make our engagement official.
We ordered champagne, marveled at the view, and then came the big moment. I went back down on my knees and pulled out the ring. I won't go into detail, because this is getting too girly and I am not that connected to my feminine side. I will say that Amber Airplane had tears in her eyes (again) and said the ring was perfect. It was an amazing night.
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Amber Airplane and I would like to thank each and everyone of our readers who sent us emails expressing good luck and kind wishes. We truly appreciate the tons of emails received and we look forward to sharing more of the excitement in future "Where's Johnny Jet" newsletters.
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Yes, travel is fun, but it is also stressful. We've learned the value of speaking up, but don't lose sight of the importance of manners. Thank those who give good service, compliment your establishment, remark on the remarkable. It can yield results. I've received free upgrades, beverages, rides and, of course, those indefinable benefits of a pleasant chat, through remembering to compliment that which is noteworthy. ???
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Five options for cutting hotel costs on your Europe vacation|
With the present flurry of Europe airfare sales, you can plan a real bargain vacation to the Continent this fall or winter. However, with the euro still trumping the dollar, you'll need to watch how much you spend on your next biggest travel expense after airfare: accommodation. Click Here To Read Article
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