We returned from Chicago yesterday, part of what's become a yearly getaway around Ava's birthday.
First off, it was great to meet Patty, Tim's girlfriend. It was fun to have the two of them along on the trip and we look forward to many more in the future!
Chicago. I can say nice things, and I can rant about others. I shall do both, and will attempt to do so in an alternating pattern. I will also attempt to alternate rants and compliments in chronological order.
We arrived on Friday afternoon. Our reservations were at the Hyatt, on the south side of the river east of Michigan Ave. As we approached our destination, we decided to find our parking garage at Milennium Park first. It was nearby, but immediately I knew I was in trouble after I saw the catacomb-like nature of this part of town. Streets on top of streets (on top of streets, as I found out later). We made our way back to the hotel, I dropped Ava and Hope off with the luggage and went back to actually park the car and hike back. The plan? Turn right on to Columbus and just pull into the garage. Reality? Upper Columbus ended abruptly as I peered over the edge down to Lower Columbus where I needed to be. I was sufficiently turned around at this point. In the span of 30 seconds, I managed to not know where the hell I was. After negotiating pedestrians and busses, I did manage to find my way back to the garage with the help of Hope's Google Map printout. But barely. I might still be searching for the garage right now if I had made another wrong turn. This would not be the first time this multi-tiered street layout would fuck me this trip.
That evening, we had dinner. When Patty and Tim arrived, they called from Stetson, the road in between Hyatt's two towers. I instructed him where to park, and he replied that this place I spoke of didn't exist. I walked downstairs, out to Stetson prepared to point the obvious out to Timmy...and he wasn't where he said he was. I went to the front of the building and found a stairway...down to Lower Stetson. Fucked again. Fool me once, Chicago. Once they got their room, we spent the evening just getting to know each other. It was a nice time.
Saturday was a cooler day. And windy. Why did no one tell me Chicago would be so windy? Our plan was to make our way to the Shedd Aquarium, since we could only really pick one big thing to do during our short stay. The architecture in Chicago is beautiful, and the Shedd Aquarium is no different. Just past Soldier Field (another stunning structure), the aquarium faced Lake Michigan and the area felt open compard to the confines of the city's numerous tall buildings. The aquarium itself was well done, representing nature's aquatic life from all around the world. In particular, there was a white-sided dolphin exhibit complete with a show. The dolphin tank was what struck me though. As you sat in the theater looking toward the aquarium, the back of the tank had a disappearing edge along a wall of tall windows that looked out onto Lake Michigan. It was as though the tank was part of the lake.
We walked our way back to the hotel from the aquarium. It felt like a few miles, but we stopped to have an authentic Chicago hot dog and meandered around Millenium Park a bit. When we got back to the hotel, we collected ourselves a bit then took off for the American Girl Store.
What can I say about the Amreican Girl Store? That it needs a bar? Yes, I can say that. I think women and their daughters would be able to shop more efficiently if they could simply carve out a space where husbands and fathers could gather and enjoy a brew or two instead of parking themselves in the middle of the aisles wondering what travesty of human-kind they had stumbled upon. Hear me now, American Girl Store. Nothing elaborate. Rip down a wall, put in a small bar with about fifteen stools. It would pay for itself in about a month.
That night, Tim and I went out to order an actual Chicago Style pizza. Well, we wanted pizza AND sushi, but they apparently don't eat sushi in Chicago. At least not at places which don't require reservations and are open past 6. The sushi debacle, I could rant for several paragraphs. I won't. Tim and I drank a beers while we waited for the pizza, then I sent him to the room so I could scurry off to Mc Donalds for chicken nuggets.
So I go to the McDonalds that I know of...closed. The only other Mc Donalds was across the river. Raining, sporting my worn out red Crocs, I scurried across the bridge. Nearly broke my ass three times slipping on the plate steel that covered the pedestrian part of the drawbridge. Now I could see McDonalds from where I stood. But how to get there? I crossed the street and made my way closer through some walk paths only to come to an abrupt end...at an overlook to the street below. I figured I needed to be down there. So I took the stairs down to lower Fail Street. This was not the tour-isty part of Chicago my friends. I made my way past the Billy Goat Tavern, past a gang of skate boarders, across another street, up another set of stairs to find myself...right where I started.
After collecting my food, carrying it back to the hotel, being treated as though I was carrying the Ark of the Covenant, crossing the slippery break-my-ass bridge, I made it back to the room thoroughly frustrated. I drank to fix it.
The next day brought a jaunt down to the Navy Pier, a ride on the ferris wheel, and a trip to Fox and Obel before we left town. It was a great time, a beautiful city, and I'd like to go back again another time.