The work week was totally insane, which is about all I'm willing to say about it. I did take a break for a couple of hours on Tuesday to visit with Marc and Karin, who are in the early stages of extended travels. I showed them around the Pentagon, after which we had lunch at Cafe Asia. I also arranged my time so I could leave early on Friday, which was particularly helpful as we had another air conditioning failure. Alex had brought in a giant fan after last week's fiasco, so we got to be the cool people on the floor.
My early departure let me make my flight to Chicago for a brief weekend getaway. Of course, the weather delays always come after they already board the plane, so we sat trapped for 45 minutes or so after we were supposed to leave. Still, it's only an hour and a half of flying time and the train ride to downtown is easy and efficient. I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel, which is somewhat of an unlikely choice for me, but the location is excellent and I got a reasonable deal online. I'd classify it as the second coolest hotel I've stayed at in the U.S. - behind the Library Hotel in New York, but that's in a class of its own. The room was all sleek and high tech and, since they put me on the Beatles themed floor, I had a picture of John Lennon on the wall and John and Yoko adorned the bathroom. And, surprisingly given how industrial the whole look is, the bed was extremely comfortable. All in all, it's a nice conversion of an old Chicago skyscraper (the Carbon and Carbide building) and I'd stay there again.
My major day time activity was a Volksmarch taking in the northern reaches of downtown - chosen over the other option because it counts as a Civil War walk, as well as Route 66 and the "normal" event credits. It nicely filled in some of the gaps in past Chicago meandering. For example, I don't think I'd ever actually been up Michigan Avenue all the way to the Water Tower before, though the building is so familiar from photos that I'm not entirely sure. The residential areas of the Gold Coast are impressive and, all in all, it was a very nice walk. The walk returned to the financial district and, again, I'm not sure whether I'd ever actually seen the Board of Trade building before. Fortunately the weather was good, with the high only in the low 80's and not much humidity. I do need new walking shoes, though.
After the walk, I did a bit of store browsing. Which reminds me that Chicago is one of a fairly few cities which still has a real shopping core that hasn't been entirely mall-ified. It's true of New York, of course, but even San Francisco has begun to deteriorate in that respect. The problem with shopping on a trip like this is that I'm too constrained by luggage space to buy anything unless it's amazingly fabulous. And it's hard to truly enjoy shopping after walking rouhgly seven miles.
Fortunately, the major purpose of the trip involved sitting - in the form of going to a baseball game. I thought that the White Sox played at Comiskey Park or maybe New Comiskey Park but, in the way of things in these degenerate times, it turns out to be U.S. Cellular Field. It's an easy El ride from downtown to the South Side and the stadium is pretty much steps from the station. The park is disappointing, with nothing unique. My seat had a good view of the field, but part of the scoreboard was obstructed by the left field foul pole. The fans are the biggest asset, as they're enthusiastic and spirited. The game was an exciting one, too, with a couple of stolen bases and some nice fielding by Mark Buehrle. It's not like I cared much about the outcome, since neither the White Sox nor the Mariners matter to me, so I could appreciate the game without the taint of emotionalism. So I had a good time, despite the blandness and excessive commercialism of the stadium.
I didn't have time to do much of anything this morning. I will note that O'Hare is one of the airports where they don't make you take off sneakers, which was a pleasant surprise. (By the way, I should mention that the security folks at Washington National have an obsession with umbrellas. It seems that about every third time I go through there, they make everybody take out their umbrellas, out of any cases and they open them and shake them and generally waste time looking for what you might have hidden inside yours. It's actually less irritating than the shoe thing, but it's also weirdly unique to DCA.) My flight was routine and was even a tad early. And, for a change, I didn't have any weird unexplainable metro delays. So I was home in time for a nap before dinner. And I won't even be up unreasonably late tonight.
Copyright 2005 Miriam H. Nadel