Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chicago Trip and Etc.

Mackenzie and I went to Chicago earlier this month for my friend Nancy’s wedding, and also to see my family. It was planned for a pretty short trip – fly out on Thursday evening, and return to San Francisco Sunday Afternoon – but more on the travel schedule later. We met my friend Erin at the airport, as we were flying out on the same flight, and sharing a rental car for the first day or so.

We were flying American, which meant we went to the newly reopened Terminal 2 at SFO. The new terminal is fancy, and it seems fairly upscale in the concessions. We decided to grab some food and a drink at the Cat Cora lounge, as it was something new and different that we heard about. The cocktails were good, albeit pricey (but hey, it’s in an airport) and the food was OK. Definitely better than the last few restaurant meals I’ve had, but that’s not saying much. I’ll probably try one of the other venues next time I fly from Terminal 2 after work and need food, however.
The 6:30PM flight got us in to ORD around 12:30AM, and it took about an hour more for us to get our luggage, pickup the rental car, and drive to the hotel.

The next day the three of us met up with my old friend Scott and his fiance Kira for lunch. They were staying at the Hyatt Lodge at Hamburger University, which was couple of miles from our hotel. We met them there, so we could check out the McDonald’s campus area and the unique hotel. It was interesting, but I haven’t had a chance to post pictures yet. I am a slacker… After we decided that lunch choices at the hotel were not sufficient, we went over to the Oakbrook Mall, which was about midway between our two hotels, to find food. We ended up at a place called the Clubhouse, which was basically like a Friday’s dressed up as a fine dining restaurant. Well, that is not exactly fair, since the food was pretty good. Also, the portions were astounding – my lunch portion of Chicken Pot Pie was the size of a dinner portion out here.

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda, it was time to get ready for the wedding. I wore a suit for the first time in well over a decade (I actually bought a suit for the wedding), and took the occasion to go all snazy, and wearing a pocket square. Since, as I said I was too lazy to post my pictures from the trip, here is a photographic proof, from Facebook:

The wedding was a delightful affair – low key, because that’s how Nancy rolls. My friend Scott was her ‘Man of Honor’! It took place at the Mayslake Peabody Estate an Tudor revival mansion from around the turn of the Twentieth Century.

While there was a breakfast planned for the next day, related to the wedding, we could sadly not attend. We had to get Erin to the airport for her flight, and then we planned to go to my Parents house to spend the day with them and my nephew Milo. I feel that was a pretty good win, since he’s super cute. And there are no pictures, not because I didn’t post any, but because I didn’t take any. But we had a good time going out to my parent’s local hot dog/gyros place for lunch with him, and then running around the mall. While he napped in the afternoon, Mackenzie and I went to visit my 94 year old grandma, who recently fell and hurt herself and was in a rehab facility. It was great seeing her, and I love her dearly, but I wish we were able to visit her at her house.

For dinner on Saturday my parents took Mackenzie and I out to Wildfire, which is a steak/seafood restaurant that I had been to a couple of times before and enjoyed. Even though it is a chain, and part of a giant restaurant group (Lettuce Entertain You), I can recommend it as a place for a tasty, not terribly expensive dinner. I will say that they definitely know how to cook a steak in the midwest!

So far, everything was going as planned, but a snag was about to enter the story. at around 4:20AM on Sunday my phone rang. I picked it up and there was an automated message from American Airlines telling me that my flight was cancelled and we were rebooked on a flight that sounded like it was about half hour earlier – but instead of going nonstop ORD-SFO, it was to have a stop at DFW. That sounded like a drag, but, the only other choice I had was an earlier flight that same day, also through DFW, but at least it was a more convenient time for my Dad to take us to the airport.

When I woke up, I confirmed when the flight actually was, and it was the next day (Monday), not the same day. I called the airline and saw if there was anything we could do, but we were screwed. So not only did we have to fly with a connection, we had to burn another vacation day. It’s a good thing that we were staying at my parents and didn’t have to worry about accommodations!

And there were some bright sides to this, too – we would be able to spend some extra time with Milo and my brother and sister-in-law! We had already planned to have brunch with them, but we got to have dinner with them too, and be with Milo until his bedtime – which was super cute, as he showed us his artistic renditions of his family with crayons! (he is only 22 months old, so they were very abstract). For tracking purposes, I’ll say that we had brunch at The Portage in Portage Park, Chicago. It was a good brunch, and they had an all you can drink Bloody Mary bar – my parents were there so I could only drink two, but still not bad! And we did carry-out pizza and salad from perennial favorite Lou Malnati’s. So yes, our extra day was put to good use – we also saw Bridesmaids in the afternoon, during Milo’s nap time, which we enjoyed quite a bit.

So now we get to Monday, the day we were supposed to be back to normal – and we leaft for ORD at around 8am. Our flight was at 11, but a bit of extra time isn’t so bad. We ended up taking off about 20 minutes late due to some service issue, but we had enough time between flights in DFW that we weren’t worried. We got to DFW, took the train between the terminals of our two flights, and grabbed a sandwich to take on the plane with us – and then we got to the gate and found out the flight was delayed. And the delay kept going up – it turns out that someone had flushed a coke can down the toilet, causing a vacuum leak. But it took them something over 3 hours to figure this out. Well, eventually we took off, and got back to our flat around 9PM, pacific time. That’s a 15 hour travel day – to something that should have been about 6 or so hours, if we had been able to take our original flight, or the NONSTOP flight that I payed for. Oh yeah, we also weren’t able to sit together on our flights. Needless to say, I sort of hate American Airlines a lot right now.

In other news, we went strawberry picking at our CSA’s farm in Dixon, CA yesterday and it was deliciously fun.

posted by neil at 9:13 pm
under daily tribulations,food,Milo,travel  
  • http://superduperfantastic.com/ suki

    Ooh, I want to go strawberry picking. :) Last time, I didn’t get to try Lou Malnati’s, so I guess we’ll have to this time.

  • Kristin Bienert

    Hi!

     I was just reading your blog about your recent trip to Chicago for the wedding. I’m glad everything worked out with your flight! It seems so often those little hassles can ruin a good trip–luckily not in your case! I am the social media coordinator at Midwest Living magazine and we’re working with Enjoy Illinois on a Facebook contest called, “Magnificent Getaways Giveaway Contest,” which invites people to share recent magnificent Illinois experiences for a chance to win one of three one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Chicago and across Illinois. The Grand Prize alone includes dining (for four) on the Ledge at Skydeck Chicago, Terzo Piano and Lawry’s Prime, plus a stay at the Trump Tower and more! If this is something you’re interested in you can enter one of two ways: http://www.facebook.com/enjoyillinois or on the contest website, http://magnificentgiveaway.com. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at helen.mason@meredith.com. 

    Thanks! 
    Hayley Mason, Social Media Coordinator for Midwest Living magazine, Meredith Corporation     

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