Monday, July 02, 2012

Chicago - Day 6 (Going Home) & Summary

After my morning workout and said goodbye to the employees at the gym where I worked out each morning of the trip and took the short walk around the corner back to the hotel to shower and think about the wind down.

My flight out of O'Hare was scheduled for 6:30pm so I had some time to kill and had to think about checking my bags for a while since check out from the hotel was at noon. Originally, I thought I was going to rent a car and take a day trip - I would have just loaded up the luggage and drove to the airport in that case but the real world got in the way and I had to rethink what to do. The weather was rainy and I really was quite content with what I had seen and done, so I opted to really just take it pretty easy and perhaps, try to walk in the shoes of a local for a few hours.

I had a shower, packed my things then headed down for some oatmeal. I spent a short time in the room journaling and just going back through the past five days and probably every five or ten minutes, stopped to think about how much Monday meant. I officially checked out of the room somewhere between 11 and 12, checked my luggage with the bell man and made my way to the Starbucks on the next block along with my iPad. I spent about an hour or so sipping on a decaf latte, writing and capturing the spirit of this vacation. I also thought ahead a bit as I had a short work week coming up with the July 4th holiday, then off on another trip the following week, this time, primarily for business, to New Orleans.

I left Starbucks and walked East on Diversey and found what appeared to be a quaint grocery store so I went in and walked the aisles. One of the things this stroll through the market confirmed is how expensive the city of Chicago is. There were some grocery items that I buy on a regular basis that were priced 2-3 times higher than I pay in my suburban Massachusetts town; also, gas in the city was around 70-80 cents a gallon more expensive than where I live.

I grabbed a banana and an apple to have with me in my pack for the rest of the day's journey and then grabbed small tray of sushi for my lunch and returned to the hotel lobby to sit back, have my lunch and read the newspaper.

At some point, I don't specifically recall the time, I think around 3pm, I decided to make my way to the airport. The trip to O'Hare would first have me on the #76 bus, leaving from right out front of the hotel to Logan Square where I would get on the blue line right to the airport.

I checked my bag, printed my boarding pass then realized the fabulous luck I've had on this trip had seemed to run out, my flight out was delayed about an hour and fifteen minutes. When I got to the gate, I saw the earlier flight had also been delayed so I inquired about a seat on the earlier flight, I could buy one for a $50 change fee or go on the standby list; I chose the latter. As the attendand was typing my information in, she informed me that since I had already checked the baggage on the later flight, that regardless of which flight I was on, my luggage would be on the later flight - what? Oh well, so much for the luck but I couldn't be upset after the great week I've had. I told the woman that it would be far more depressing to get to my home airport then have to wait for my luggage than to just wait longer here and get home with my luggage and so I requested that I be removed from standby and just waited.

Then, the luck came back, from out of nowhere - an announcement indicated that a change has been made and the delay for my flight would only be five minutes and not the seventy five originally thought...YAY!!! I landed at Boston's Logan Airport nearly ten minutes before the time my flight was scheduled on paper to land had it left on the time printed on my ticket - go figure.
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The city of Chicago had been on my vacation radar for many years. The family member I am closest with it my cousin Analisa, you know, Cuzzup! Cuzzup grew up in Glendale Heights, a suburb of Chicago before moving to the desert so there was always some talk of Chicago. Being a baseball fan, Wrigley fiels was always in my list of adventures and of course, the iconic foods of the city, the Italian beef sandwich, the Chicago style hot dog and of course, the deep dish pizza - i went for all of those things and more but the main catalyst was to meet my dear friend Tori in person for the first time. I'm glad I got to do so mny things on my wish list, I truly had so many memorable experiences - I feel so blessed to have had those opportunities and good fortunes. I even had the chance to visit with an old friend that grew up just a couple of block from where I did back in Brooklyn - how do you get better than that?

There are gifts in life that sometimes are very hard to describe. Lots of people pass in ant out of your life and some are good, some not so much and some transform how you think about living and approach the world. I feel so very blessed...I don't even have more words right now...

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