Trip Start Feb 09, 2010
18Trip End Mar 17, 2010
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Fully convinced that St. Louis is on our "good" list, we decided to save some remaining attractions for a future visit and hit the road. Our plans to meet up with a friend in Chicago next week didn't work out so we adjusted our timeline to remove some cities we were kind of only visiting to kill time and headed straight for Chicago. Along the way we listened to the unabridged audiobook of Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture. I feel like it is something that I should read or listen to at least once a month for the rest of my life. You may have heard of it, the actual video lecture is posted online - but I would definitely call the book a must-read for anyone. It may have had an extra connection with me since it was written by a computer science professor at Carnegie Melon, and he was involved with the development of several different software projects I used while at Georgia Tech. The content is in no way computer-oriented but the author offers some amazing insight and a very interesting life story
Back on topic. Other than a huge factory and a wind farm in Illinois, the drive didn't offer much but snow and increasingly aggressive and inpatient drivers. In St. Louis I noticed that drivers were accelerating from a stop on average much faster than people in Atlanta do, which was a welcome change for me. However as we approached Chicago and eventually got into the downtown district, it quickly stopped being a relaxing drive and instead felt more like a vehicular battlefield. On a Sunday evening around 6pm, every interstate going into the city was stop-and-go. Red lights all downtown were backed up and several times we sat through more than one red cycle at the same light. We cruised around town for about thirty minutes all over the place, my heart rate elevated the entire time and eyes constantly scouring my view looking for "One Way" signs that seemed to be in the hardest possible locations to spot. It didn't take long for us to put Chicago on our "bad" list. Too dark to get any decent pictures, we scanned through all of my iPhone apps trying to find a decently priced hotel. To get under $60 we had to travel 20 miles up near O'Hare International Airport. It being Valentine's day, we were determined to find some champagne and dessert somewhere, so we ended up at a nice local Italian restaurant.
Although I wouldn't mind doing some touring here, I'd rather wait until my local friend can make it out so we're just going to head to Milwaukee tomorrow
(written by Jessica)
A little sad to leave the nicest hotel we've stayed in, we load up the car and start out to Chicago. We were planning on being there later in the month, but things didn't work out with Justin's friend meeting us there; that's okay though-- we just get to see Chicago earlier.
We stop at a Subway on the way to grab lunch, and we hear northern accents in the restaurant-- the first we've really heard so far. I don't know if Justin and I are completely without accents, but we definitely don't have southern accents. I guess northerners could guess we aren't from the area just from our lack of sounding like them.
Chicago! Justin spots the Sears Tower (or Willis Tower now) almost immediately. Traffic is much heavier, surprisingly so since it's a Sunday night. I guess Valentine's Day has a little to do with it. It seems like a good preview of the city traffic on a weekday, and Justin and I have had our fair share of that in Atlanta
Since it is Valentine's Day, we decide we should do something to celebrate. We go to a restaurant near our hotel and share a berry tart with champagne-- very nice! We learn that you can buy alcohol of Sundays in Illinois, but we were unsuccessful in trying to find a place to buy
champagne. Oh well. We find a hotel, and I go inside to ask about room rates. I apparently interrupted the hotel clerk from his dinner in the back room, so he curtly answers my questions after he shuffles to the front desk. What a nice welcome to the city.
We retire for the rest of the night. I'm already looking forward to Milwaukee tomorrow, even though I feel like we didn't give Chicago much of a chance yet.