Chicago: On My Own
After the first two days of my trip, my coworkers had to attend their labor relations conference, so I was left to my own devices. Honestly, if I had spent all 3 days in a pool, or at a park with my laptop open, I probably would have been satistified. My goals for the week were largely met by eating real Chicago pizza and having seen my siblings earlier in the month. So I really had a wide-open agenda for those three days. What do I actually do? Well…
Wednesday: Chicago’s iconic Millennium Park was just three blocks away (and then some) from our hotel. Even at my biggest and laziest, I figured I could cross that distance since I frequently do a similar walk to get to work when my carpool is unavailable. All I had to was pace myself and be mindful of heat/dehydration once I actually got there. And sure enough, I managed just fine. Among the things I took pictures of was “the Bean” aka Cloud Gate, a silvery jellybean-shaped piece of art that attracts tons of tourists everyyear because it is a bean-shaped mirror in the middle of a city park. I also visited the Millenium Monument while an anti-tobacco group was setting up a commercial, and listened to a classical orchestral rhearse for their evening concert. Leaving the Park, I saw the outside architecture beauty of the Chicago Public Library, I watched the famous “L” train wobble along its tracks, and listened to a street singer perform outside a CVS. After I got back to the room, I had a nice afternoon nap and my memory of that evening was a bit hazy (except for a fight to get a Heineken open without a can opener).
Thursday: By now, developments at work resulted in a meeting being called while I was out, so I took time out on Thursday morning to listen in on that meeting. I then strolled Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue (along the Chicago River and down a famous stretch of shopping), where I took pictures of an ugly Trump Tower sign and stumbled upon a Fannie May chocolate shop that was having a sale. After another short nap, I spent much of the afternoon and early evening attempting to write while staring mindlessly out at the nice views of Chicago. We finished the day with a dinner at the hotel restaurant, where I tried something called a Chi-Town Ice Tea (which is supposed to be a cranberry-infused take on Long Island Ice Tea, but the alcohol wasn’t mixed properly because it didn’t taste like ice tea).
Friday AM: Trying to avoid the expensive buffet, we both went in search of the Dunkin Donuts that Google Maps said was nearby. That is how we discovered the underground shopping mall that spanned the subbasements of our hotel, the nearby building, and much of Michigan Avenue.
Friday PM: We had to checkout by 1, but our flight was at 7:30. We figured we could spend the afternoon suffering through the long ride to O’Hare and through that airport’s long lines, especially through TSA. But even after one last bit of airport-quality Chicago pizza, we found ourselves with several hours to kill – especially after our plane got delayed by more than an hour for little rhyme or reason. Fortunately, we touched down in Virginia and returned to our respective homes before midnight, where we tried to spend the weekend sleeping off our tired bones.