Thirty years is a long time to live with someone. Especially if that someone is me.
My brother joined the military to get out of sharing a room with me. My parents only had to put up with me for 18 years. I went through 9 college roommates. My son has been with me 27 years, but he really doesn’t have a say in it.
Laurie has lived with me for three decades. Of her own free will, for the most part. So I was determined to give her a fun-filled weekend in Chicago, where she could do everything she wanted.
Even if it killed me.
And it almost did.
The flight from St. Louis to Chicago was mercifully short and largely uneventful. The first ordeal was the hike from our terminal gate to the train station — roughly 5 miles while carrying a carry-on. (because if it has wheels, it ain’t a carry-on – you idiots! Stop cramming the overhead bins with your oversized suitcases!)
After 45+ minutes on the train, we arrived in downtown Chicago where it was another roughly 2 miles walk from the train stop to the hotel while carrying a carry-on. (Laurie will tell you my mileage estimates are out of whack, but we all know how she likes to exaggerate).
By the time we reached the hotel room I was exhausted, but no sooner had a put down my bag than L was ready to go. First stop: Architectural boat ride. I was actually in favor of this because (a) It wasn’t too far from the hotel and (b) you sit while you ride the boat. It was a nice, leisurely boat ride and we learned a lot about the buildings and history of Chicago. All of which I have since forgot.
Afterwards I was given the choice of going up into the Willis Tower or the Hancock Building. I didn’t care. We did our usual hemming and hawing for about 30 minutes and agreed on the Willis Tower. We walked and walked until we realized we didn’t know where we were going. So we turned around and walked toward the Hancock building. Tall buildings are much closer than they actually appear. We eventually got there, bought our CityPass which would get us through the weekend, went up the the observation floor, observed, went back down and ate at a nearby pizza joint.
Meanwhile… Andrew, Cindy and Chuck are playing Uno, hanging out at the pool and eating pizza.
Did I mention everything in Chicago is expensive? One way to beat the expense is to buy a CityPass, which will get you into 5 attractions for the low, low price of $100-and -something. If you do 3 things you’ve recouped your money. But why stop at 3 when you can do all 5, right? So what if all 5 attractions are spread out across town?
Now, a rational person would say you cannot do 3 museums and a skyscraper in one day. But a rational person has never met Laura Thielmeier Roy.
After a quick hotel breakfast (which would have to see us through to dinner because lunch is not on the agenda) we began the long trek to the Field Museum. In the rain. We have a half-dozen umbrellas at home, I don’t believe we’ve paid for any of them, but none of them were in Chicago. So we stopped and bought an umbrella at the CVS a few doors down and began the long trek to the Field Museum.
We were originally going back to see Sue, but sadly received word that she was being moved. The good news was she was being moved to make way for Maximo the Titanosaur — the largest dinosaur ever to walk the earth (until they find a newer, bigger one).
Had a nice visit with Max. Watched a movie about Sue. Walked through the dinosaur exhibit and found Sue hanging out in her new, unfinished, digs. Walked through the Mummy exhibit. Tried to take a selfie with Max, but it was a disaster.
A short walk across the street to the Shedd Aquarium. We had been there before, and it doesn’t have dinosaurs, so we didn’t stay too long. The octopus was cool and we enjoyed watching the Beluga whales. I’ve been in better aquariums, to be honest.
Next was the long trek to the Chicago Art Institute. You gets to see dinosaurs, you gots to see Renoir. There was a long line of people waiting to get in. Do these people know this is an art museum? With our wonderful CityPass we did not have to wait in line like the tourists.
My oh my, but that building was overflowing with art. Rooms full of Monets and Van Goghs and all your other Impressionist favorites. In other words: Laurie Heaven. We eventually made our way to the modern art wing where they had several Warhols for L to admire as well.
I had begun to despair of their being anything of interest at the Chicago Art Institute when I found the weaponry and armor exhibit. So it wasn’t a total waste of most of the afternoon.
By roughly 4 p.m. we had had all the culture we could stand, so we began the long trek back to the hotel. I was given a roughly hour reprieve before we would head out for dinner and our final stop of the day — Willis Tower. This time we got directions.
I don’t remember the name of the place where we agreed to eat but it was right next door to a comic book shop! I swear to God I did not plan that. Comic book shops were not on the agenda, but hey, if there’s one right next door to your restaurant you have to stop in, right?
During dinner we watched the Belmont Stakes which was a fun thing to do in a pub atmosphere. I started to feel a bit woozy and retired to the restroom. Upon my return Laurie noticed I was all pale and that I had indeed walked myself to near death. She wanted to go back to the hotel but there was no turning back now. I would see this through to the Willis Tower even if it killed me. Surprisingly, I got my second wind or something after we left the restaurant and I made the hike with minimal complaining (minimal for me).
There was an insane line to get up into the tower. Which we avoided with our pass. (Hint: Get that CityPass — it doesn’t just save you money, it saves you hours). We got up to the top and it was pretty much like the Hancock Building. There’s some kind of setup at Willis where you can stand out and it looks like your suspended in air but the line to do so was outrageous so we punted that and eventually made our way back to the hotel.
Meanwhile… Andrew, Cindy and Chuck are playing Uno, shopping on Main Street, eating chicken strips, and not shaving.
Sadly, his rugged, unshaved look did not survive long once Laurie got home.
The original plan was for us to go for a walk to the Navy Pier before our flight at noon, but that was not destined to be. Gotta save something for next time. In, say, another three decades.
– 30 –