One moment in late February I’m idly browsing Southwest’s low fare calendar, and the next I’m saying “$72 roundtrip?! Fuck yeah, I’ll go to Chicago, why not?”
So I did.
I awoke just before 4am on April 16, got dressed and grabbed my bag, and was out the door. I parked at the BWI lot around 5am, waited an annoyingly long time for the shuttle, and finally got to the terminal after 5:30am. Argh! Look at that TSA line. How are so many people traveling this damn early? Wonder if I’ll make my damn flight… Oh, okay, line was moving fairly quickly actually.
I got my barely awake self to the gate and onto the plane, as the sun began to rise over the airfield. Isn’t it pretty?
Then we were off at the scheduled 6:45am departure time.
Two hours later, after a rather lovely aerial view of the southern edge of Lake Michigan and then the big city, we were on the ground at Midway. I made a glance at the long line at their TSA as I headed out, grumbling at what I might have to deal with later. And after playing with the machine a bit, I had my ticket and was on the L train.
Good morning, Chicago!
It’s only 8:30am Central, so I’m a bit early. Think I’ll pop over the bridge real quick…
And, hey, it’s Union Station. There are trains here.
It’s about 9am now, so the Sears Tower should be open. First security. Then green screen picture so they can try to sell it back to you later which basically every damn tourist attraction anywhere seems to have nowadays. There’s a basement exhibit for people who show up later in the day to look at while standing in line. Something about the city. I don’t know. I just blew past it because I showed up when it opened so no line. Then a brief movie about the tower, how it was built, how it got renamed Willis Tower to which any Chicagoans worth their salt close their ears and say “la la la, I’m not listening, la la la…”
At last, came the elevator. And up we went 103 stories…
Yeah, they were clear about this.
Whoa, whoa… HOLY SHIT!
Anyway, I circled the SkyDeck over and over for almost two hours for some reason, finally making myself leave in order to get a move on and because I was starving. Back down the elevator and into the gift shop.
There sure is a lot of shit in these touristy gift shops.
So now I circled the gift shop for a while in indecision. I finally bought a key chain and went on out. Across the street, I found where I was headed and got me a Chicago stuffed pizza!
Well, yum for a little while. I respected Chicago culture enough to get through the first two slices, but after that when it was cooled, I just picked the toppings (fillings?) out of all the cheese. I finally left and wandered around downtown with that thing in a box, forcing myself to eat more of it despite being very full.
Oh, look, a sculpture.
Oh, look, another sculpture.
Ah, good, I forgot what city I was in and needed the reminder.
It seems I’ve reached water. A lake, in fact. What a good lake. Perhaps even a GREAT lake. Ha! I’m so clever!
Anyway, finally, into the art museum. Time to be the art connoisseuse I am most definitely not! With such amazing works of art as…
This green square.
A big ass pile of candy.
Whatever is going on here.
What? Don’t trains normally emerge in midair out of fireplaces?
Haven’t you always wanted a tea kettle that’s also an ampersand?
And of course this thing.
All this while my phone was all like “hey, plug me in somewhere, damn it!” There were outlets around, including at one of the cafes dotted around the museum where I got a much desired Coke, but when trying to move around and see things before the museum closes, sitting still at an outlet just eats up time and only barely adds more charge. It needs it some more before too long. And can’t just leave it at an outlet somewhere due to needing it for taking pictures and to not get stolen.
In any case, 5pm came and the museum closed before I could see everything, though I did see most of it. I still had half an hour to raid the gift shop, at least.
Now it’s Italian Beef time!
Well, I was still full from that huge pizza earlier, so just had some of it, but, hey, Chicago food. So I just took most of it with me and wandered over to this big cloud bean mirror kidney thing.
With its funhouse underside.
Anyway, I should be making my way back to Midway now.
Upon arrival at the airport, the TSA line wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked that morning. I stuffed some more of the Italian Beef into my mouth, though I was still so full. It finally occurred to me that I didn’t need to do this. I asked a nearby TSA agent if I could bring the sandwich through security, and she said “yeah, it’s just liquids you can’t bring”. I knew that! I blame sleep deprivation.
My flight departed on time at 8:45pm, the nighttime illuminated city disappearing below upon ascent. We landed back at BWI around 11:30pm Eastern. Took the shuttle back to the lot, got into my car, and drove on home, arriving there around 1am, 21 hours after I left.
Now THAT’S a day trip!