Saturday, November 03, 2007

All the way from Wheaton, Illinois...

So I promised that this time on the road I'd be a better blogger so here goes.

My travel day was, well, long but I arrived safe and sound. My first flight (Calgary to Toronto) was early and uneventful. So uneventful, in fact, that I managed to snooze on the plane. Even with all the travel I've done in the last 8 years or so, this is a nearly impossible feat so, yes, I'm quite proud of myself. Toronto to Chicago was a little more entertaining. First, there was getting from one end of the airport in TO to the other. Crazy that no one in that airport speaks English...come on people! Then the Air Canada attendant - the one who simply spends her life checking boarding passes and only the first of many I would meet that afternoon - told me I was overweight. That's how she put it. I wanted to be a smarty pants and point out that of all people, I am probably not one she should be describing that way lest she send me over the brink to becoming anorexic (not that there's anything to worry about...promise) but decided that maybe I would just chuckle to myself. I didn't get the impression she'd find it very funny and I didn't think that I wanted any delays to a)getting rid of my overweight bags and b) finding my way through customs. Missing my plane didn't seem like it would be worth it. But then again, sometimes life is just way to serious....
After what seemed like 6 more lines through the Air Canada process, customs turned out to be a breeze and I was back on my way.

It's been forever since I've flown AC. West Jet typically is my carrier of choice. Just a few thoughts on the service:

+ Air Canada beverage service includes the whole can of whatever beverage you choose. Not just a tiny plastic dixie cup. 1 can = 3 little cups.

- No little snacks or cookies. You can drink all you want but bring your own food or be prepared to pay!

- Air Canada attendants are not nearly as friendly or cheerful. Perhaps they're overworked...definitely no jokes from the crew on arrival!

- No adjustable "pillows" on the seats backs.

+ Gets you from point A to point B...and isn't that the point?

Rode the plane from TO to Chicago with a bunch of hockey parents and their kids, all heading for a big international tournament in Chicago. What a fun experience for the kids! They were all, parents included, so excited that it was no problem striking up conversation. The ride was over super fast and we were there...Chicago!

First thing I noticed...green grass everywhere. Saw that from the plane. What a beautiful sight after all the brown (and white!!) at home. Second thing about Chicago...they use their horns all the time. It's ridiculous. Here's my thoughts on this one, people: if you're on a freeway with hundreds of other cars and you honk your horn, how on earth do they know who you're "talking" to and what the heck you're trying to get across. Really!? Third thing...the freeways go everywhere. Truthfully, the infrasctructure has been something to see. The freeway into downtown Chicago just runs right into the lake. That's it. No more freeway. Coming out of O'Hare, I saw a bridge over the freeway for airplanes. Down town, there's layer over layer of transportation - road, pedestrian bridge, train on top of that. Sometimes that's even all on a bridge so that there's boat travel underneath! Pretty incredible!

Favorite thing about Illinois: hanging out with Katie! So great to see her again!!! It feels like she's been here (away from home) a lot longer than 3 months but I'm pretty proud of her for being willing and able to make the move here to do something she loves! Plus, gives me a chance to visit!

Saw the tallest building in North America - the Sears Tower - yesterday. It's so tall. Yes, I know, the understatement of the century! We were by the John Hancock tower - something like 98 stories and only slightly smaller than the Sears Tower - and I couldn't help but feel small and helpless. Katie and I talked about what it would be like to work in a building like that which turned into a conversation about 9-11. The Hancock is only slightly shorter than the twin towers were (and the Sears tower seems almost twice it's height!). Sitting at the base of this one gave me a chance to put that into perspective, perhaps for the first time. Can you imagine what it would be like to be on the ground and have that much building come tumbling down? What would it have been like to be up at the top when it happened? They really didn't stand a chance! You don't just "take the stairs" in that scenerio.

Other downtown Chicago highlights? Taking tons of great pictures in a very picturesque city. It's such an incredible combination of new and old. Churches, highrises, and a well endowed silver moose! The state bridge and the Wrigley building. Some incredible churches. The "bean" was an exceptional photographic treat! There's a well known popcorn shop that's apparently a tourist attraction in itself so of course we had to stop. I was pleased to share a bag of the best caramel corn ever with Katie. I wonder if the recipe is online? Trying to win tickets to see Wicked on Chicago's broadway. No luck. Maybe it will come to Calgary...

There's so much to see downtown Chicago that I don't think we even really scraped below the surface but it was a pretty cool day anyway. Convinced that we walked miles, we came home exhausted but satisified.

Today was Oak Park, a city just outside of Chicago. It's this quaint little town that's, again, very picturesque and the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway. There's this little inn called "The Write Place" and bookstores gallore. Guess who was a happy woman!? I could honestly wander in bookstores all day. Fortunatly Katie played along. Had a beautiful coffee at one of Katie's favorite: Caribou Coffee. So good! Did a little shopping since it seems that I'd forgotten how to pack in the short week that I was home...forgot to pack stuff with long sleeves. Seem to have forgotten what November in Canada can be like. Oops.

Back to Wheaton for some REAL chicago deep dish pizza for supper and let me tell you, I don't think we know what we're talking about back home when we talk about Chicago Deep dish pizza...you know, the company with the bright yellow logo and square box? I love my pizza and this was right up there as the best (I'm noticing a "food" theme here already)! So much crust but not greesy or gross. it's like a combination between pizza crust and pie crust. So tasty and flaky! So good! There's two layers of it too...with the cheese and toppings in the middle. Then the sauce is on top. so good!

For the rest of the evening, it will be relaxing back at the dorm. Katie's on duty tonight. Perhaps an episode of the Office is in order (Katie and her friends - who are incredible, by the way- are just getting into Season 3. It's been so fun watching episodes I've already seen with them and watching their reactions!).

So yes, I am enjoying my time here...few more days to go!

1 comment:

Dunn said...

You're making me miss home. I'll always be a Chicagoan, no matter where in the world I am.