October 6, 2013

Back from San Francisco and knowing that I won’t have time to post tomorrow, here are the posts from Oct 6 and 7, 2012, from our cross country odyssey…

Oct 6, 2012: Carol Stream, Illinois

Another long day of driving.  Breakfast in Des Moines was better than usual so Mike and I drove without any significant stops until we almost reached Chicago.  Both of us had worked on the iPad looking for motels/hotels/whatever.  Turns out there isn’t anything within a 30 mile radius of Chicago that isn’t booked solid.  I think it was almost 7 PM before we found the Holiday Inn Express in Carolstream by using Hotwire.  Once again we are so wiped out by traveling (why are we keeping this pace?) that we retreated to our room to lick our metaphorical wounds in our own unique ways.  Mike turned on a sci-fi Western and fell asleep; I stated pounding out my experiences in this journal.  To each his own.

I’m so angry that it never occurred to me that in Chicago it would be as hard to find last minute accommodations as say, San Francisco or NYC.  Once again Holiday Inn folks proved to be helpful and supportive.  I am now armed with a list of local restaurants and directions to the train so we can go into the city center (known as the Magnificent Mile) tomorrow.  The young woman who checked us in actually blanched when I asked her about driving downtown.  We are forewarned.

Things I’ve already discovered I would do differently:

  • Bring more warm clothes—I’m going to get very tired of the 2 long-sleeved tops
  • Quit trying to live in two places simultaneously—on the road and at home (also known as taming my inner control freak)
  • Bring all those magazines I never have time to read
  • Bring my dog; so far every place we’ve stayed has been dog-friendly*

*If I had brought the dog, I couldn’t have brought Mike and he’s better at driving and conversation….

Oct 7, 2012: Chicago

So… no one is staying in Chicago tonight unless they’re people with booked rooms months ago who knew that Notre Dame was playing in Soldiers Field or that the famous Chicago Marathon was happening.  We’re staying in Carol Stream at a very nice Holiday Inn Express for our second night (it’s time to slow down).  I’m becoming a fan of this chain as it was a young man at another Holiday Inn who helped us find this room.  By the time we checked into our room, we were wiped out.

Today, Mike and I took the Metra into Chicago’s Ogilvie Station, ending up in the financial district and close to what we wanted to see.  We took a cab for about 15 minutes—in that time we ended up going round the block in slow motion because of the Marathon traffic.  After about $8 we got out and started walking toward our destination, about 3 blocks further away than when we started.  We trekked through s few seedy blocks and finally succumbed to hunger at a cafeteria style deli.  I ordered a Polish Chicago style hot dog and had to convince the guy I really wanted the “hots” (hot peppers); I almost had to trot out my California jalapeno credentials.  For $1.99 we got a “side” of about a pound of macaroni and cheese.  Not knowing how big the portions were, we ordered way too much.

Several blocks later we arrived at a museum I have wanted to visit for decades: The Art Institute of Chicago.  What an amazing place!  The Impressionists collection is stunning AND they let you take pictures as long as you don’t use a flash.  After about 3 hours, we were on aesthetic overload; even I was ready to seek different visual stimulation so we went back outside.  Have I mentioned that it was cold in the Windy City?  Still it was sunny and gorgeous and the skyline is spectacular.  I would love to spend about 5 days in Chicago.  I like the energy of the city and the friendliness of the people.  I would also enjoy being by Lake Michigan during a warmer season. Next time we’re going to take the ferry that cruises around the lake to view all of the different architectural styles.

Ah...Monet's water lilies

Ah…Monet’s water lilies

Sunday in the Park (with Georges and Mike)

Sunday in the Park (with Georges and Mike)

Hologram sculpture in Millennium Park

Hologram sculpture in Millennium Park

Lake Michigan shore (Chicago side)

Lake Michigan shore (Chicago side)