Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sunday 16 - Monday 17, July 2006: Chicago

Sunday night after arriving at the hotel I unpacked my things so I wasn't living out of a suitcase like I usually do on trips. It was actually kind of pleasant. Also, I sorta had to so that the nice clothes weren't all wrinkled. I stayed in my room until after 8 and then decided I was hungry. So, I took to the streets and wandered upon a Bennigan's. I ate there, walked back, and went to sleep.

The bed was much harder than I'm used to. I missed the sleep number a lot. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well. Also, there was lots of street noise – honking horns, screeching tires, the el train. Sleep could have been better.

Anyway, the next morning I wake up with plenty of time to get ready and am sucked into watching the news on the conflict between Lebanon and Israel. Then I realize my shuttle to class is leaving in 5 minutes, so I go to catch the elevator.

I wait and wait and wait… still no elevator. So, I think to myself… "Self, this is ridiculous. Why don't you just take the stairs?" So, I turn to the stairwell and run down the narrow seven flights only to find a door that's only an emergency exit where an alarm will sound if I use it. So, I go back up a flight in confusion. The second floor looks like it's all conference rooms and completely deserted. In fact, I can't even find an elevator on that floor other than one labeled "Service Elevator". So, I go up one more floor. And wait for the damn elevator. At this point I know I'm already late. The shuttle must have left by now.

While waiting on the third floor for the elevator so that I can find my way to the lobby, I see a maintenance guy and ask him if there are stairs that lead to the lobby. He points me to the stairs at the other end of the hall. I should have thought of that. Another set of stairs! So, I head down that way and finally make my way to the lobby, 10 minutes after I had started the journey.

The shuttle to class has gone.

So, I walk next door to the Hilton and steal one of their cabs since they were all nicely lined up out there and none were coming over to my hotel. The cab driver missed the building and circled the block, even though I told him I'd just walk and was in a hurry. Whatever. I just made it there in the nick of time. It just cost me an extra $10.

After class I decided I'd take a walk up to Millennium Park and take some pictures, do some other sightseeing things. I watched a bunch of people playing in the fountains and then heard music coming from the park. I went over and watched this orchestra rehearse for a while. They were playing a song I played in high school. I don't remember what it was called, but I remember playing it.

Then I watched some radical Christians protesting homosexuality. The Gay Games were in town and Millennium Park was the sight of some of their events. In fact, I think they were the participants in the rehearsal I was watching. Anyway, the religious folk were walking around with their signs telling people to repent, that marriage was defined as a union between man and woman, and then there were people who were "ex-homosexuals" who were "saved" by the Bible. I was leaning against a wall watching the interactions between the two sides and waiting for an opportunity to take a picture of one of the signs so that you could read it, when a woman from the other side of the group took a picture of her own and saw me trying to do the same. I eventually got mine and she came up to me asking if I had gotten it. I said yes and nodded, she smiled and winked, and made her way into the grassy area where the rehearsal was taking place.

I kept on walking north and found myself on the Magnificent Mile. Lots of high end shopping to be had. Not that I was really interested in it. But it was pretty and there was lots of traffic in that part of town. I took a picture of Oprah's "All suite Omni Hotel located in the heart of the Magnificent Mile."

Then I set out to find dinner. I found what seemed to be a family owned Indian place called Gaylords and ate there. I've never had Indian food prior to this. But I figured, hey, it's Chicago, I'm on my own, I might as well try something new. I asked my waiter for a suggestion and he ordered some sort of mixed grill kind of thing so I had a few things to try. The food wasn't bad, but I think that I'm probably not an Indian type of food person. I think I'd rather eat Thai or Chinese if I had to pick something from that side of the world.

Then I walked around some more – all the way over to Navy Pier. Took more pictures. By this time the sun was setting… so either I got really pretty pictures of the sunset and the city, or I got a whole bunch of under exposed photos. I guess we'll find out if I ever get them developed. (I was using my mom's old camera as my digital one has pretty much died on me.) I also took pictures of the Ferris wheel and all that fun stuff, although I didn't actually do anything but walk around out there by the water. Lake Michigan is bluer than I thought it would be. And it's so big it looks like the ocean – except without the waves like the Gulf of Mexico. Pretty impressive.

Then there was more walking. Walking walking walking. Have I mentioned the oppressive heat and humidity? It's very hot. And humid. And I'm walking over four miles. I also kinda missed my cross street on the way back and overshot going west by about four blocks. Oops. I found a CVS and bought two bottles of Dr Pepper, missing Kansas City where you can order it in every restaurant.

I found the Chicago Theater, you know, the one with the big, famous sign? But the lights were out on it and it was really dark, so I couldn't take a picture. But I saw it. I also saw the ABC News 7 studio. They have these giant glass windows that look right in on the anchor desk. It's like, window, cameras, anchor desk. I'd never be able to do the news while watching people on the street like that. Especially if they're like… pounding on the glass or jumping around in front of it.

Anyway… I finally make it back to the hotel, completely exhausted and hot. I figure at least I'll sleep well since I'm so exhausted. But, it was fun until the last 5 blocks, even if I was by myself. (I found that people were great in class but not all that social outside of it.) So, I make a plan to not miss the shuttle to class again. It involves using the proper stairs and giving myself over ten minutes to go down seven floors, which I feel is quite excessive.

Still more to come on the Chicago front, like that awesomeness that was Wicked. That's enough for now though, this was way long… (And I think it changed tense a whole lot.)

'Til then -

End Blog.

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