Saturday, July 20, 2013

Windy City Pet Expo and more

So, last few days have been busy busy.  Had people stopping by to pick up supplies and a baby chin, and then had the expo.  So, I took the day off from work on Friday, because, for some reason, set-up for these expos is always like 12 noon - 5 pm.  In other words, completely not-do-able if you have a normal job.  So, I took the day off so we could have more time to pack and get ready and we left around mid-day. 

We always go straight to the expo center, partially because we usually can't check into the hotel that early, but also because, as noted, there isn't forever and a day to set up.  So, we have a few problems with the GPS but manage to get there fine.  Get checked in, but they can't find our waiver for bringing the animals in.  I told them, I didn't bring it, because I'd already emailed it to someone and had them tell me I was approved to bring the animals.  In hindsight... it would have made sense for me to bring a copy anyway... but I did not.  To save me and my mom having to stand there and wait while this staff member filed through a gazillion emails, they said go set up and they'd come find us if they could not find our waiver.  I guess they found it, because I never heard about the waiver again.

So we go to set up, and let me tell you, it was HOT.  It was 95 out that day, but this is an expo hall, so I was expecting nice refreshing air conditioning.  My mother and I were in the middle of discussing whether I'd thought to ask if there would be air conditioning (which of course I didn't), when someone told us, the air was on, but since all the doors were open (for easy vendor loading and unloading), it didn't feel cool.  Uh... yeah.  I usually don't come on here to whine and complain, but I mean, when I say it was hot, like, I was wearing a tank top and it was soaking wet in minutes and my mom had to sit down.  It was hot enough that I didn't even feel good.

Now, normally at these expos, we ask for permission to leave the animals overnight (because normally, the expo hall isn't hotter than the ambient temperature in the sun outside.  So, these critters were coming back to the hotel with us.  They did come in the expo center for a bit while we set up, because even a stuffy expo center is better than a black suv parked in direct sunlight.  

So, we got ourselves set up and left.  Looked on yelp for a local restaurant.  Ended up going to a place called Montecasino Cafe Grill.  My mother would later call this place everything from a dump to a dive, but it was actually pretty nice.  No ripped seats or torn up anything like you'd see at either.  It just wasn't an Olive Garden, so = dump.  Anyway, no, but it was really good.  My mom had "The Beast" which was this huge double patty hamburger and I had chicken enchiladas verdes.  Huuuge plates of food, we both took part of our dinners back to the hotel.  Excellent food, excellent service.  Doesn't look like much from the outside, it's in a little strip mall, but the inside is cozy.  My mom was sitting in a spot where the sun was on her face and the owner went and stuck a piece of paper in the window where the sun was coming through to block the sun.  Very nice.  And despite it being a family-owned restaurant, it actually has all good reviews (mostly 5's, a 4 or two) on yelp, which helped us pick it.  Definitely some place I would recommend to visit if you're in the Villa Park, IL area. 

So, we go back to the hotel, which should have been a 15-20 minute drive... however... our GPS kept disconnecting from the cord and turning off.  Despite the fact that it should have battery charge.  So it would turn off, I'd miss the exit, then have to turn around... finally, we figured that we could hold the GPS with a vice-like grip in our hands and it would stay plugged in.  So, 10 miles took about 50 minutes to go, once the whole GPS issue was fixed.  Well, not fixed, because at some point I pulled out my phone and we got back to the hotel using the GPS on that.

So, when we did get back, it was still light enough outside that we could swim if we wanted.... but the pool is closed for maintenance.  Naturally.  But really, that's ok, because I had realized, at that point, that I was supposed to have some sort of handout in case people wanted for when I present at the expo.  And what do I have?  No handout.  So, I spend a portion of the night taking our 6 page chinchilla care packet and condensing it down to the bare bones on one page.  So now it's like chinchillas at a glance.  The very basics that people need to know about them before considering adopting.  This was all after I'd called the front desk to ensure that there actually was a computer/printer somewhere in the hotel that I could use to print out copies of this.  Which there was.

So, I get that done, and it's starting to storm outside, and so I take my hard drive and go out to the computer and print some copies.  Come back to the room, and my mom says I should have printed more.  So I figure I'll go back in a few minutes... and the power goes out.  And we're having one of those really?!??! moments, after having the GPS issues and all.  It came back on in a few minutes, so no big deal, but that was kind of the sign it was time for bed.  Watched some Friends on tv (which neither me or my mom is crazy about, but it's always on tv when we're in hotels) and went to bed.

Oh but before that.  Found this vending machine...

Notice anything unusual?

That glowing blue area is a place for a credit/debit card to be swiped.  Maybe this is common in cities, I don't know, but here in Munster and on all the rest stops we've ever been to, the vending machines do not take credit cards.  Just thought that was neat.  Anyway.

Got up, drove to the expo with a vice-like grip on the GPS, and the expo went alright.  Got $8 in donations (yay!), and sold a few things.  Maybe tops $20-25 in sales, but that's about what we
typically have.  The expos aren't moneymakers for us, they are useful in terms of getting exposure, which is what we need.  So, our agreement with this expo was that I had to present on chinchillas and we would get our booth comp'd.  So, I went up on stage and talked about chinchillas.  Had a few people listening and had some come over to talk afterwards.  I think it went well.  Later we actually did have someone tell us that "everyone was talking about the booth with the prairie dog and chinchillas" -- so I guess somehow word got around.

Now, we had the Chicago House Rabbit Society on our one side, and The Mighty Pits Rescue on our other side.  There was a point in time when one of the two people at the pit rescue left, my mom was walking around, and so there was just me in my booth and one person in the pit booth.  I noticed the lady at the pit rescue petting a dog that had crawled under the curtain from the next booth over.  She was playing with the dog, I was watching her -- and in those few seconds that neither of us were focused on our booths, someone came up to their booth and stole their donation jar.  Now, come on people, that's just ridiculous, stealing money from a rescue.  At a pet expo of all places.  And it happened in such a split second.  I really hope people like that "get theirs." 

I'm really big on helping people out where I can, and I feel like a lot of rescues and pet businesses are that way.  The community's not so much competitive as it is friendly (which unfortunately I can't say about the chinchilla community all the time, but I digress).  Like the one year at the Lake County Pet Expo it was horribly hot and we had people bringing over their ice packs for the chins.  Today, there was a lady who's whole cart had dumped going over a bump (to take it out to the car) who I helped pick the stuff up.  And people are helpful to tell you where you can find supplies cheaper or whatever.  Got to talking to one of the dog treat vendors who had unique dog treats (perogi, cannoli, etc), told her that we're at a lot of these pet expos and don't often see something different (cause, you gotta admit, after awhile, most dog treats look alike).  And she asked why we went to some many and I told her, I have this rescue... and she threw in an extra treat because we help out animals.  Like, it's a happy helpful community of people.  And most people coming to pet expos are the same way -- very nice people, good intentions... I mean, except for this instance, I have NEVER heard of anyone (vendor, rescue, or person) getting anything stolen at one of the expo's we've been at.  And typically, there is ample opportunity.  When the booth is getting set up and tore down, there's no one by it for periods of time.  Many times, the last things to go in the vehicle (i.e. purses, cameras), stay at the booth until the very end of packaging up.  And nothing has ever gone missing (and believe me, everyone would know about it if it did).  So this was just horrible for that rescue and shocking that someone with that kind of mindset would even come into an expo like this.  Just horrible.

On a happier note....I do think we have two potential adoptive homes -- had one girl that my mom talked to that seemed interested and had a lengthy conversation with another lady who seemed very interested, and very knowledgeable about the animals she had.  One of those people who does a lot of research before getting an animal, so she would be a very good home.

So here was our booth ....

 So, we got ourselves packed up and drove home.  Was ready to vice-grip the GPS for the entire ride home.... after not having found anyone to bum a rubberband off of during the expo.....when it occurred to me that my NWI Chinchillas silicone bracelet might be juuuuust big enough to hold the GPS and connector together.  Which it was.  So, we got home without more GPS hassles.  

So, got everything in the house and started sorting.  As I was sorting, was taking stuff downstairs where it should be.  There is still a pile on the desk and a small pile in the foyer, but that's for another day.

And for those who think the expos are all fun and games, they are fun, but just cause I'm at an expo all day doesn't mean the work ends.  Once the majority of the stuff had been moved so you could walk through the foyer, I was downstairs realizing, hey, I really need to clean the runs, guinea pig cages, and a few of the chin cages.  So, I donned my fancy respirator (all of $5 at a garage sale -- thoroughly cleaned/disinfected) and went to work on the runs.  I tell you, that helped SO MUCH better than the dust masks, not even funny.  So all the run pans were pulled out, dumped, scraped, filled, and put back in.  For three runs and two holding cages.  That takes just under 1 bag of the paper shreddings that we have.  So, it's not bad, the bags go pretty far.

Moved onto the FNs -- vacuumed the poos out of all of them.  A few could still use being switched back to fleece, but that's for another day.  Also gave everyone food and water, vaccuumed out the big guinea pig cage, and gave everyone their supplements.  Then vacuumed up the mess I'd made cleaning out all those runs.  Which brings us to around 11:30 at night.

Not too bad, but even I have to admit, it'd be nice to come home and just rest sometimes.  But, there's always something that needs to be done.  Tomorrow, I have a dropoff (chin -- from Zionsville -- quite the drive!), need to take the remaining pet items downstairs, and need to clean off the desk so it is useable again.  And find time to go to Menards so I can use the 15% off bag they have and stuff it with things I don't need now, but are never on sale so could use the 15% off.

One more thing before I go.  Evil (also known as Gypsy) had a baby the other day.  He weighs 66 grams!  Quite the chunker.  Here he is (excuse the mess, the cage is now fresh & clean):

Who wants to tell me what color he is?  If you guessed standard, you are incorrect.  Guess again.  He is actually a mosaic.  See the white on his tail?  Some white at the end of the feathering (I don't know what it would be called in chins, in dogs its feathering) would be normal but a tail that's got a complete white section.... definitely a mosaic.  Can't wait to see how he changes colors. 

Anyway, now it really is time for me to get some rest, so I'm getting off here.  Will maybe get a chance to get around and post tomorrow about what's going on.

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