Dallas won this at Kelly & Jeff’s holiday party a few years ago. We came across it in the Jeep when we traded it in. I could throw it away…… or donate it to a museum! I tried to give it back to Kelly when she was visiting but she wanted nothing to do with it!
Dallas and I have had our hand-me-down Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo for the past two years and it has really served us well, but it is 13 years old and starting to show its age. I especially was not totally trusting it any more after the breakdown I had between Chicago and Milwaukee over the summer. How much money in repairs should we put into a car whose value is only a couple thousand dollars at the most? Also, when would the next break down be? And how much would it cost? And we’d have to repair it if we wanted to sell the Jeep. Can’t sell it broken down, so we were probably for sure in for another repair if we didn’t decide to sell it now.
Over the past few months we did a ton of online research into what type of vehicle we might want if we got a new one. On summer road trips to Wisconsin we looked at every car and talked about what we liked, how they looked, along with the research we’d done on each model. We decided we wanted a crossover, which is built on a car platform but combines features of an SUV with features from a car. But which crossover? Just about every car manufacturer makes a crossover these days. They’re very popular. So we made our lists of our top picks. I liked the Honda CR-V and the Nissan Rogue, maybe one of the Hundais. Dallas liked the CRV and the Mazda CX-7. He also liked an Acura, but they tend to cost a bit more than we could afford to spend.
This past weekend we finally had a free day to go out and test drive. We’d done as much on-the-street and internet research that we could do and we needed to get into the cars and drive them, see what they feel like. So, we got up early and drove out to Golf Road in Schaumburg, where we could try all of the cars in one general place. Golf Road has a ton of dealerships. We started off at Schaumburg Honda, since we both liked the CR-V. The CR-V was a big upgrade from the Jeep, which we were used to, but something about it… it was missing a luxe element. Something seemed cheap to me. Which, btw, I was totally fine with, if the price tag matched, if it was the economy option, but it didn’t really seem to be. Next we visited Woodfield Nissan to drive the Rogue. I really liked this car. The Rogue just felt different than the CRV. It had more design elements. It had a bunch of extras like a rear view camera and keyless entry and start and satellite radio for the exact same price as the CRV. It just felt like you were getting more with the Rogue.
Let me just say also that these two dealerships, Honda and Nissan, were really cool. No pressure, really friendly and knowledgeable salesmen. Very attentive. Very happy to just have you look at the vehicles and drive them and get to know them better. No pressure to get you to the desk and start wheeling and dealing. And then, AND THEN, we went to Napleton Schaumburg Mazda where we couldn’t find anyone to help us. Granted, the place was really busy, but no one even said hi or acknowledged we were there. Dallas was ready to leave without even driving the CX-7, but I got aggressive and just grabbed a guy walking by. This was a mistake. We should have left. We took a test drive with this guy but he didn’t know anything. Dallas was telling him things about the car. And all the guy really wanted to do was tell us how great the dealership is and sit us down to price out financing. Ugh! Dallas really liked the CX-7, but I was having a terrible time separating our bad salesman/dealership experience with the car itself.
So, I was still liking the Rogue the best. Dallas was liking the CX-7. We got lunch at Buona Beef and randomly ran into our friend, Adam, whose girlfriend, Christine, owns the Rogue. I’d talked to Christine previously and she seemed happy with it, but Adam said he thought that after 2 years it was running clunky. He didn’t know how to describe it, but it wasn’t as great as it used to be. He didn’t recommend we buy the Rogue. I took this advice with a grain of salt, but I did really want to look at the CX-7 again. Somewhere else. On the drive home we looked up the Mazda dealer in Highland Park and drove all the way up there only to find out that it’s now a Honda dealer. We were both kind of ready to give up, but I looked up one more Mazda dealer that was sort of on the way home, it was the Autobarn in Evanston. I’d never even been to Evanston before!
Ok, so let me just say. This Mazda dealer was about a thousand percent better than the other one. We worked with Andre and he was very knowledgeable and nice. We drove the CX-7. He left me alone for a while while I sat in the car and took it in, playing with all the options and really thinking about whether I liked it or not. I did. I liked it a lot. I liked the design and all the options. I thought that it seemed like a more serious car than the Rogue. The Rogue was fun, but it seemed kind of fey in comparison. And Adam’s comments made me wonder if they were trying to wow people with fancy extras but maybe the core of the car wasn’t up to par.
To make a long story short, we haggled, we haggled a lot, we had to be ready to leave. I absolutely hate the “game” but we played it. I thought I was going to barf, I thought I was going to cry. I almost did cry. We almost walked. We second guessed our decision. I didn’t like the way that this dealership played the game, but does anyone like this? It’s terrible. I always feel violated. We spent three hours going through the motions at the Autobarn… but, again… long story, short…. this is our new car!
I believe we got a good deal on it. I know we did. And Mazda is offering 0% financing through the end of the month, so that will really save us some money. But neither Dallas or I have had a car payment for about 10 years, so it will be an adjustment to our budget. I have to admit, after being put through the ringer all day, I almost started cry while leaving our Jeep as a trade in, but it will be worth it. The CX-7 is fun to drive, safe, and will give us the peace of mind we were looking for. We plan to have this car for like… ever. So it was a big decision for us, but I think we made the right one. After a couple days, I’m almost over feeling violated and can actually enjoy the new car smell. Almost. If you know me, this isn’t a surprise. haha
Last weekend was my 3rd annual visit to Miller Park to see the Cubs take on the Brewers. Sara, Kristin and Cousin met me at my house for the drive up to Milwaukee. Alden was at his parent’s house in the Milwaukee suburbs and was going to meet us at the game. Except, when I went out to the garage to leave, this is what I found:
Ok. Plan B. Kristin drove to my house so we took her car to my brother’s house. Then we switched cars because his fit all of us in it and he had a premium parking pass.
Note to self: Don’t place the jalapeno poppers on the grill this way. We lost a few!
My brother also bought and prepared all of our tailgating stuff and we threw in money on it. I was expecting a few brews, a few sausages, some cheese curds… but he went all out! We had fresh, homemade guacamole, brats, Italian sausages, some jalepeno poppers, three kinds of cheese curds, a ton of chips and all the condiments. We had not only one, but TWO grills! Also, not one but TWO kinds of cookies. I made a chocolate mint one and some snickerdoodles.
Also, my brother didn’t just grab a case of Miller Lite and call it a day. He brought so many different Wisconsin microbrews. I took photos of some of them. I think there were a few more that I didn’t get. A Leinies one for sure, but I can’t remember which. These are the ones I know for sure:
We mixed the Sand Creek Hard Lemonade together with the New Glarus Belgian Red and it was so delicious. It tasted like a tart juice.
Richard, Rachelle, Danny
Danny and Caroline were tailgating nearby with Caroline’s parents and they came over to visit for a while. I meant to go visit their tailgate but got caught up in our stuff. Sorry!
Sara & Alden. Check out all the Cubs fans!
The weather was perfect. A little windy, but sunny and very comfortable. My brother brought his urban horseshoes/washers game and we played that for a bit. Somebody (not me) managed to toss a washer down the sewer, but otherwise it was a fun game. I guess a sewer hazard is appropriate for urban horseshoes. Sara had never tailgated before and had never played urban horseshoes and had never been to Miller Park, so it was fun to show her the ropes!
AAA to the rescue!
After two games of urban horseshoes it was time to head in for the baseball game. We packed everything into the car and my brother was going to roll the window up… well, I mean press the button that puts the window up. Time for car problem #2! His battery was dead and we couldn’t put the window up. We tried to have the guy next to us jump our car (note to Alden’s mom, he didn’t jump ON our car), but it didn’t work. We tracked down the free AAA service at Miller Park and somehow the guy got our car started. We then had to run it between 10-20 minutes to make sure it would start later on when we wanted to leave. We ended up missing 2 innings of the game, but at least we got it sorted out.
On the walk to the stadium, we found this file folder on the ground. For some reason it was HILARIOUS. Someone had made this folder, slipped in their tickets, and filed it somewhere up until VERY recently. The 7 almost looks like a 9. Very dangerously close to going on the wrong day! We made up a lot of stories about this folder before throwing it back on the ground.
Ok. Inside the park, finally, we were headed for our seats when we ran into these degenerates:
Lycke, Trent, Biefel
And I mean degenerate! They had been drinking since about noon (it was a 6pm start for the game) and it showed! I ran into them a couple times, actually. They didn’t have seats even. Just standing room tickets.
Miller Park at Sunset
Miller Park Scoreboard
Sara had a hankering for some ballpark nachos so we asked a lady where she got hers and scoped it out. They were no ordinary ballpark nachos, though. They were piled high with meat and peppers and everything. We picked up a couple Lites and a couple Leinies Honey Weiss while we were up. Actually, that was the only beer I had all game. One beer, because I thought I was driving back to Chicago.
Miller Park Sausage Race
Miller Park Sausage Race
It was a gorgeous night in the ballpark. I brought a light long sleeved shirt but I didn’t even wear it. During the 6th inning, the sausage came running out right in front of us.
Miller Park Sausage Race
I cheered for chorizo like always, and Sara cheered for chorizo as well. Too bad he got spanked! Polish sausage smoked everyone!
Take Me Out To The Ball Game, Roll Out The Barrel
During the 7th inning stretch they played Take Me Out To the Ball Game, but the people who’d never been to a ballpark in Wisconsin were surprised with the Roll Out the Barrel follow-up song!
A few notes on the players:
1. I really wish the player called Corey Hart would play Sunglasses at Night for his at-bat song.
2. Alfonso Soriano was fielding right in front of us and gave Sara a nod when she was screaming “FOOOONNNNZIIIIEEEEE GO FOOONZIIIIIIIIEEEE!!!!” I don’t know much about Soriano, only that he wears the tightest pants in the MLB.
Miller Park Scoreboard
3. I love the scoreboard at Miller Park, which is new this year. It shows a huge photo of each player when they’re at bat and shows the stats so far for each player. Sara taught me what Strikeout Looking is when a guy’s stats said at one at bat he struck out swinging and at another turn he struck out looking. She definitely knows a lot more about baseball and the Cubs than I do, but the big board definitely helped me keep track of what was going on and helped me get to know the players better.
The Wrigley Field Road Tour
In the stadium there must have been a hundred(s?) of people wearing this same red tshirt. They’d biked to Miller Park from Wrigley Field in Chicago for The Wrigley Field Road Tour. I think I’d have been sleeping in the stands if I’d done that.
In the end, the Cubs lost 4-6. They made a rally in the 8th inning when they made 3 runs, but it wasn’t enough. The Brewers actually swept the Cubs in the series. But that’s ok. We all still had a great time.
Miller Park at Night
After the game I had to go to the bathroom so I said I’d just meet people at the car. I didn’t even make it to the car when I found that everyone I was with had made new friends and was drinking all their beer. After the game is pretty much like another big tailgate. We’d run out of beer, so how convenient that these fans were willing to share. They didn’t want to share with the Cubs fans, but they were convinced when I broke out the extra cookies I’d baked. Also, they liked that Alden and I were from Wisconsin. Also, we met a couple from Milwaukee whose daughter lives a few blocks from Alden in Chicago. Alden asked if the guy would put in the good word with his daughter, but the guy said the daughter was getting married in a matter of weeks. He said he’d let Alden know in October if it didn’t work out. He also asked that Alden please refrain from stalking his daughter now that her location had been revealed!
Sobriety isn’t an accident, but getting drunk many times is!
I drove the car back to my brother’s because he’d had a few too many. On the way Alden was texting his mom and she invited us over for more drinks, but I vetoed that plan. My brother and cousin and Alden were all for it. Of course, because they were the drunkest ones! My brother was busy typing Alden’s parent’s address into the GPS and when it was shouting out instructions it was so confusing to get back to my brother’s place! It would have been fun to visit the Almagro family, but it was getting late, especially since we still had to drive to Chicago. At my brother’s house we all made a pit stop. Alden had a special moment with Milo, the dog, and then we were off to Chicago. I thought I’d be driving but Kristin insisted. We all knocked pretty hard on wood and it worked because that car made it home without incident. I think we got home at about midnight? Long night, but so fun! Thanks to all my friends for making it a fun day and special thanks to my brother for organizing the tailgate and getting the tickets for us! A new set of washers in IN THE MAIL!!!