Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chicago Part 2: Day 1: People, Places, Food

Danny and I have a traveling strategy. Our method is to visit one big, interesting, city in the U.S. every year, with smaller travels in between. When we run out of interesting US cities, we will expand beyond the good old U.S. of A. This year was Chicago. Why Chicago? We’ve never been to it, it has some interesting history, and there is plenty to do there. So off to Chicago we went.

Our flight to Chicago had a layover in Dallas/Fort Worth, which seems a little backwards to me. However, if we hadn’t of had the layover in Dallas, we wouldn’t have met the little old lady from Chicago. The old woman sitting next to us in the airport needed help zipping up her suitcase. Her daughter had packed it for her. She started up a conversation with us about how she was just visiting Dallas for one of her grandchildren’s graduations, but was now flying back home to Chicago.

She is 84 years old and lives on her own. Naturally, her children worry about her and are all trying to convince her to come live with them. One of her daughters lives in Porterville, CA and is trying to get her to move there. We told her that although we had never been to Porterville, we have been to Fresno and Bakersfield which are near there, and we would not wish those cities upon anyone. Her daughter said that the seniors play double pinochle there, but the little old lady told us she only plays single pinochle. I have never played pinochle, but the name itself has sparked my interest. She has lived in Chicago her whole life. She told us that she is just fine health wise and still very active. After her husband died some 20 years ago she got an apartment. She line dances, is a hospital volunteer (she said the hospital in Porterville didn’t have volunteers), and she drives on the expressway. She gave us some tips on what to do in Chicago, and told us not to waste our time at Millennium Park, “There’s nothing there, nothing there for someone like me.”

Our flight was delayed so she grabbed a bite to eat at the BBQ place while we watched her bags. She said she just needed a snack and got corn on the cob. I noticed she used a lot of margarine. She also used a ridiculous amount of salt. She must not have any issues with her blood pressure, but perhaps she does with her taste buds. As we were waiting she commented on how the flight was taking longer than, “A slow boat to China.” If this little old lady was any hint of Chicago, then I knew we would have a great time.

We arrived at the O’Hare airport late in the evening. Although the airport has a sort of ‘70s vibe, it did have some awesome automatic seat covers in the women’s restroom. I thought that was a nice touch. After sorting out our hotel issue, we unpacked our things at the Congress Hotel and asked the lady at the desk if there was anywhere nearby that is good for food. Every place was closed as it was late Sunday night besides bars, so off to the South Loop Club we went.

We practically ran to the South Loop Club, because the sky had opened up. I decided to brave the storm rather than run back up to our room to get my umbrella. The South Loop Club is a local hangout. Danny asked if they had any local beers on tap there and they did. He had the Goose Island 312. The waitress told us that 312 is Chicago’s area code. Goose Island is the only island on the Chicago River. It is an artificial island. My water tasted just the way I like it, like water.

Danny ordered a hot dog. It had sautéed onions, sour kraut, and hot peppers on it. I had a Swiss burger with Swiss cheese and mushrooms. My burger was delicious , but I think that had something to do with my starvation. Danny claimed later in the trip, that that was the best hot dog he had ever had. The fries were scrumptious, plus they were curly so that was fun.

On our way back to our hotel we passed Buddy Guy’s new blues bar in Chicago. Danny had a small hissy fit that we ate at the South Loop instead of Buddy Guy’s. He said his dad would be so disappointed. I was pretty sure his dad would understand.

We went to sleep exhausted but without hunger, and that is all that we could ask for at that moment. We set our alarms for different times. Danny was going to go workout at a Crossfit gym in Chicago. I had other plans. My plans involved sleeping in and getting ready for our next fun filled day in Chicago.

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