Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chi-town Whirlwind... Literally.

So I just wanted to start off by saying I started writing this blog post a few months ago and clearly flew off the blog-wagon for a bit.  Now that summer is over, school is back in session and year two of my crazy bicoastal life is underway, I thought it was time to get back in the groove and try to stay on top of blogging more consistently.  My biggest reason for doing so is that I have found this chapter of my life to be so involved and constant, I don't want to miss any experience or event of great significance because they seem to come and go so quickly (which I hear is just going to get worse as time goes on).

That being said, I would like to quickly rewind back to February of this year, when this blog originated:

At the beginning of the year, I told myself that I was going to make a bigger effort to make the most of this opportunity and experience as many adventures as possible. To start the ball rolling on this, I made a bucket list. Not only a bucket list for my life, but a 2012 bucket list as well. I cannot reveal the contents of this list, but I can tell you its going to be a great year!!

I have been known to be a bit of a yes woman of sorts and have trouble saying no, simply because usually there is no point in it! Why say no to an experience that will create memories of a lifetime? No excuse is good enough to surpass the greatness of the opportunity, trust me. So, as ironic as it is, after watching "Yes Man" on tv one day, I became curious to the idea of going to the airport, asking for the next flight out and taking it, wherever it may lead... Immediately adding that adventure to my 2012 bucket list. Unfortunately, at this point, I am not quite spontaneous enough to make a trip that abruptly, however, I did decide to browse flights one day and the day that I happened to be doing so, there were ridiculously cheap flights from Boston to Chicago. I have always wanted to go there and have talked to my dad about planning a trip for ages. For some reason, at that moment, I just felt like passing up the opportunity was silly.... So, I booked it! With my crazy schedule between school projects and work trips to Cali, the best I could finagle was a day trip but to me that would be just enough to fulfill the adventure I was craving.

Being my fathers daughter, which becomes more apparent as time goes on, knowing that I only had a short time in Chicago, I did some research and put together a little itinerary along with google directions in sequential order from place to place... I know I know, but it's not my fault!! As type A as it is, that preparation saved me on this trip. My plan was to hit a couple museums, the Navy Pier, Millenium Park (gotta see the bean!) and finish up at Wrigley Field... obviously! Prefacing with that, I am going to sum up the sequence of events from that day highlighting the most significant parts of my trip...

Started off the day by waking up at 4:30am to get ready and head to the airport. I walk down the hill to catch the subway around 5am. Notorious for running after the subway only to catch it as it is passing right by me, I was shocked that I actually got to the stop before it passed. As I am sitting there waiting, it hits me that it has been quite a bit longer than normal so I check my phone for the subway schedule and realize that it doesn't even start until 5:30. Figures. No other option but to take a cab, however, even they were scarce on the streets at this hour. I find one and in my effort to save cash, I ask him to take me to a location where I can then catch the subway the rest of the way to the airport (when you go directly to the airport there is automatically an extra fee tacked on). He is pretty much on to me, main reason being I have a travel bag in tow. He drops me and looks at me slightly funny but then drives off. I look around with unfamiliar eyes and after a few minutes realize I told him the wrong place to drop me. Checking the time, consulting Google maps as it loads slower than a snail, my heart rate begins to rise and I slightly panik thinking I may not make my flight. I have no other choice but to get in another cab and have him take me to the airport. The joke is on me because in an effort to save cash on a cab, I ended up spending more than normal having to take two.  Oh well, nothing can get me down or ruin this spontaneous adventure!  So, half asleep I power up with some coffee and hop on the plane, excited for the whopping one hour I will gain thanks to the time difference (every hour counts on a day trip).

I land in Chicago and get on the Hertz bus that will take me to the rental car center.  I am the only person on the bus and of course have to make small talk with everyone I meet, so it looks like the driver is my next victim.  Turns out, he is from Anaheim, my hometown, and used to work literally two streets over from my childhood home.  This world keeps getting smaller and smaller. We shared some nice small talk and reminisced on places we were both familiar with in CA.  Finally approaching Hertz, I check in and every person I come in contact with assumes I am there on business for the day.  In an interest to save time I let them think that because explaining everything I have written above to each person throughout the day would leave me with no time left.  The man takes me out to the lot for my car, which is supposed to be the smallest cheapest put put available and I quickly observe that there is nothing of the sort in the lot.  He makes his way over to some cars that are definitely in the luxury category and starts asking me if I would like to upgrade.  Obviously I already know what he is doing and figure if I keep declining the upgrade he will have to either upgrade me for free or a put put will have to fall out of the sky.  After a couple minutes of him trying to get me to upgrade (along with his almost convincing spiel on extra coverage insurance), he finally gives up and the next thing you know I am driving away in a brand new Toyota Camry (with basic coverage).    

From there, I took an amazingly beautiful drive through the suburbs making my way into the city.  Being the gadget girl I am, I had my music streaming through the car immediately and set up my bluetooth so I was calling my parents and friends with updates while trying to take in all of the beautiful buildings and foliage on the drive.  It is always so crazy to me when traveling just how different every place is and how something so foreign to one person is another persons normal.  I love that.

Throughout the day, I spent a lot of time driving through the city and getting lost on one way streets while trying to find parking, which is no less than about $20 for two hours.  That is probably the one thing I had not considered when putting together my little itinerary (just a heads up for anyone thinking about Chicago).  If I had more time, I would have definitely taken public transportation, it always seems to be the easier way to go.  I headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art first which was a must.  From where I parked, it was a bit of a stroll to the museum which was a great chance for some city photos and of course a walk through of the amazing Anthropologie location they have.

After the museum, I made my way to Millenium Park.  Found another central parking location that I thought would be suitable for the rest of the day.  I spent a good amount of time at Millenium Park as that person who is standing there taking pictures of themselves in the reflection of the bean from every different angle.  You gotta do what you gotta do!  I probably should've asked someone to snap a photo of me but we all know I am not good at that.  In fact, I think I spent most of my time taking photos of other people instead, that always seems to be more gratifying.  After a good hour or so of the bean and its surrounding sites, it was time for some lunch.  I am in Chicago right, so many amazing places for food, yet, where do I end up? Panera. It was easy and convenient and I was so hungry I needed a guaranteed satisfying meal, which Panera is always good for.  I also knew it had outlets which was very important because at this point in the day, between taking photos, google mapping and texting everyone my whereabouts my phone was having trouble keeping up.

After a late lunch it was already time to get a move on.  I definitely underestimated travel time and had to unfortunately cut out a couple places I had originally planned to go.  Guess I will just have to go back! (Hint hint to my dad on that one!) My last stop was Wrigley Field.  By the time I got there, the clouds were rolling in and the winds were picking up.  Up until this point I was seriously questioning moving to Boston over Chicago, as I had considered schools in both cities.  The weather had been so lovely, I didn't understand what everyone always goes on and on about referring to it as this "windy city".  However, Chicago did not disappoint and allowed me the chance to see what the craziness of hair flying everywhere, head to toe numbness and winds so strong you look like your walking in slow-mo.  All of this kicked in just in time to take some photos of Wrigley Field, briefly walk all around the area, teach a woman how to use the camera on her phone, and ACTUALLY ask her to take a photo of myself as well!  Granted, it turned out blurry, but oh well it's still a memory and part of the story, right?

Heading back to the airport, I don't have a lot of extra time, which is just perfect as the traffic starts to worsen (not).  Driving through the city at just about rush hour was in no way convenient.  Second panik attack of the days kicks in, as I still have to fill up the gas tank, drop off the car and get driven from Hertz to the airport in time for my flight.  But you know, freaking out gets you nowhere and I always seem to be good at just saying, not much you can do, you miss your flight you miss your flight!  It could always be worse.  So I make my way through that last list of tasks and finally arrive to the airpot without blowing away.  I had just enough time to chug a pre flight crown and ginger before making my way to the gate where I can catch my breathe.

Of course, my flight is delayed.  After grunting and having a quick first reaction of disappointment, I realize, its okay, I am here, I made it and now I have time for another cocktail, along with the chance to have one more special encounter with the woman next to me at the bar.  This woman was fabulous, somewhere in her 60's, with a cute short red hair-do, fancy nails and a fabulous ensemble.  Very Shirley MacLaine-esque, the one we all wish was related to us.  She had just gotten back from a cruise with her lady friends, where she got to meet handsome men and drink cocktails all day- the details went on and on but in an interest to not turn this post into a novel, use your imagination.  She offered me some of her sliders and after graciously DECLINING the offer a good four times, she ended up getting me my own plate and serving me some anyway.  After finishing my sliders, cocktail and story time with Shirley, who by now had a group of travelers gathered around listening in, it was time to catch my flight.

By the time I was finally seated on the plane, I felt nice and relaxed thanks to the extra crown and gingers and found myself finally able to sit back and process, with the biggest smile on, the crazy day I had just experienced, overall feeling so great about actually following through with this day trip adventure and making the most of it.  Sure, with anything, there are unexpected speed bumps that force us to re-route our original plans, but at the end of the day, that is also what makes things so spontaneously exciting.  Something I have learned since moving across the country, is that being out of your normal and your every day comforts is the best way to learn and grow as a person.  Any experience we have the opportunity to take, is an experience of a lifetime.  Good or bad.  I went into this day feeling slightly timid and shy, as I was in new situations and places trying to figure out everything on my own.  At the end of it, realizing I was capable of making it successful is such a gratifying feeling that leaves me that much more confident to do it again.  Next time, however, I am pulling a complete "Yes Man", heading to the airport and taking the next flight out.  Why not??

I'm that person.
A little tryptic of the bean!

The blurry shot my new friend took for me!
I love the top photo in this Wrigley Field collage, it's the rooftop seating of an apartment building across the street from the stadium.