Note to Reader: I need to start by saying “Thank You” to everyone that gave me tips for the City of Chicago. With as busy as my work schedule was I really didn’t have very much free time, but because of all of the great tips I got, I was really able to see more than I thought I would. But a big thanks to Manuel for recommending that I swap my hotel the last night and stay in the city. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had time to do any of the tourist stuff. My total Chicago experience would have been in the stores of the company I work for and through the windshield of a car, which, as you can see, doesn’t even begin to do it justice.
After chatting with M, I got on Expedia.com and found a GREAT rate on the hotel that he and another of our co workers stayed when they came here last, and so for the final night of my stay I switched from the Country in and suites on the outskirts of the city to the Club Quarters right in the heart of downtown on W. Adams Street. One of the neatest looking hotels I’ve ever stayed in. VERY European (I think, but I'd have to defer to Mrs. Sabbe Spot the interior designer to be sure)! Check out the pics. There were watter bottle dispencers in the hall way!?We had dinner at the Elephant & Castle restaurant in the lobby of the hotel and called it a night a little bit early because I had a mission for the next morning. My plan was to, at the crack of dawn, head down to Millennium Park to find “The Bean”. So I set my wake up call for 5:00am and hit the sack. It took about 2 hours to actually fall asleep because I kept jumping up to study the walking map and plan my rout. I’m not kidding; I was almost as excited as a kid the night before Christmas. I was going to explore the city!!!
The ringing of my wake up call pulled me from my dreams and I was jolted into action. I had 3 hours before I was being picked up from the hotel and I had a lot to accomplish. I leapt from the bed and on my way to the shower I discovered that somehow, my conditioner had lost it’s cap (were talking completely disappeared off the face of the planet) and had spilled all over my plastic airport regulated clear plastic 1 quart reusable bag, but it didn’t even phase me. I was too pumped to let something like that get me. I just ran a sink full of warm water and dumped the contents of the bag in to soak, trashed the bag and jumped into the shower and used the complementary watered down 2-in-1 stuff the hotel left for me in my room.
Once out of the shower I flipped on the local news for the weather and dressed in the warmest clothing I brought. I glanced at the clock 5:45am, looked out the window, still pitch black. Hummm… “Come on sun, time to get up!!!”
FINALLY!!! At about 15 till seven the sun began peeking, and I was through the beautiful lobby and out the sliding glass doors. Four blocks east under the ‘L’ tracks (which by the way I NEVER got to ride) to Michigan Ave., turn left and up one block and into Millennium Park… they said, “you cant’ miss it” hmmmm… looks like I am missing it… Granted it’s still so early that the faces are sleeping, but where’s the BEAN? Up a set of steps, down a set of steps I still can’t feel that it’s cold out because I haven’t stopped moving since I left the hotel, and then I spot it…! Through the trees it’s peeking out at me. I can honestly say that my heart leapt. I was so worried that I’d built this thing up to be so glorious and then when I saw it in person it wasn’t going to hold up to what I’d created in my mind, but it did! It really really did!!!
I was snapping a couple of pictures when a nice park employee in a GIGANTIC yellow coat came up to me and said, “Would you like a picture taken with the sculpture?”
“Yeah, that’d be great” I said.
“Well ma’am, if I take your picture, I’m going to have to ask that you put your glove back on” he said.
“Oh,” I said, slightly surprised. “Well, it’s a mitten, but sure”. I slid my hand deep into the warmth of the mitten and practically skipped (yes like a little girl) over to the enormous mirrored bean. After trying to find a cool way to stand, which I discovered doesn’t exist when you are dressed in a puffy winter coat, snow boots, and a hat that makes you look like you are about to go rob a bank, I put my mittened hands on the shiny surface, smiled, and waited what felt like 35 min as my teeth froze together, for the dude to snap the picture.
When I reclaimed my camera, he informed me that the reason he’d asked me to put my mitten back on is because when the temperature gets this low, they have had several people freeze themselves to the bean. OH MY!!!
Come to find out, it was four degrees!!! With the mention of the temp I began to shiver a little, and a glance at the clock, revealed that I needed to get moving. I snapped a few more pictures in the park and started walking toward the lake, but by the time I got within a block of it, the wind was blowing so bad that I had to hold onto the street light post to keep from being blown back. By then my legs were completely numb, and I decided that this was close enough for this trip. I glanced at my watch again and not for time sake, but in order to keep moving, I pretty much ran the almost eight blocks back to the hotel.
Even now, as I am sitting in the airport gate, with the sum pouring through the windows warming my still slightly numb legs, I can’t help but smile as I remember the adventures of this morning. Waking up early was worth it, and even though it really was just under an hour, it was enough to get a taste of a really great city that I’d love the chance to get back to. I think I’d like to go back with The Hub in the warmer months, but to be quite honest, even in the cold; this city is one of the coolest cities I’ve gotten the chance to visit.
Till next time,