Fall Trip To Chicago!!



Laura, Me, and Nat
   

The alarm went off at 4:00 AM.  It was Saturday, September 20th, 2014.  I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, jumped out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen.  The Keurig supplied me with the first java jolt of the morning.

"Wake up!", I told myself.  "You are going to Chicago today!"  Two cups of coffee later, I was out of the shower and preparing for the Cubs game to be attended that afternoon!  My two daughters, Laura and Natalie were primping themselves for the big weekend getaway that Nat and I had planned about six weeks before.  I had already been to  Chicago with my husband Rick in July and the game we attended at Wrigley  was so addicting that I just had to schedule one more trip before the end of the season.  We wanted to spend the night in the city after the ballgame and then go shopping the following day.

We would be staying with an Airbnb host named Kurt. The site is basically a global network of local hosts that rent out their beds, rooms, or even entire homes at a fraction of the cost of hotels.  You can even rent castles and save millions!  Ha ha!  Nat and I had chosen Kurt's apartment to stay in because it was just a few blocks from Union Station where our Amtrak train would arrive.

Natalie informed me that she would be driving my Rendezvouz to the Champagne, IL Amtrak station so that we could get there quickly.  She thinks I drive too slowly, apparently.  Little does she know how bad of a lead foot I can be!  I told her that would be just fine.  Our luggage got tossed in the back and we raced through the dark while texted updates came in on my cell phone, informing me of delays in the train's departure time. Luckily, it was free to park in the lot all weekend while our Chicago getaway transpired.  After waiting for approximately 30 minutes, the employee at the counter picked up her microphone and said, "Now boarding train 58, The City of New Orleans to Carbondale/Chicago."
Here's the link to the famous song so it can run through your head, too.  : )

City Of New Orleans

It was a double decker train and after we had been traveling for about twenty minutes we made our way downstairs to the dining car and ordered some sausage biscuits.  I used the facilities on the lower level also which were about as cramped as those on an airplane.  It's always nice to step back out of their confining clutches where toilet paper, paper towels and other toiletries are within inches of your elbows and eyes.
We went back to our seats where I excitedly looked at my Wrigley Field pendant in anticipation.

,
Cubbie bling!

When we pulled into Union Station we plugged Kurt's address into Google Maps, unloaded and walked to his apartment building.  The Cubs game was going to start in about an hour so after introducing ourselves he gave us a key, took our luggage and told us where the closest Redline station was.  This is us walking to the station and being Cubbie divas! 

On our way!!!

The State St. station's turnstyle awaited the waving of our Ventra cards for admission.  Unfortunately, Laura and Natalie's cards had not been registered right and they didn't work but the pleasant station attendants knew we were trying to get to the game and kindly let us pass.  It wasn't long before we got off at Addison and saw Wrigley, in all its glory, looming before us!  I had just been to a Cubs/Cardinals game the month before and suffered through seeing a red-shirted fan every two seconds.  It was such a great relief and joy to see more blue this time around as the Dodgers were the opposing team that day.  We had some sailors take our picture in front of the marquee.

Heck yeah!


Then we entered the Friendly Confines and located our seats in section 505, part of the upper decks on the left field side.  The view was beautiful!!!

My happy place!

The Dodgers jumped out to a quick lead and would eventually be up 7-2 by the seventh inning. We didn't care though, we were just soaking up the atmosphere and electricity! The Chicago Dogs we ate were delicious and the Goose Island beer I had went down real easy and real quick.  Ha!  I even had the pleasure of sitting next to this cutie pie, Cameron!  It was his very first Cubs game!  Adorable!!!!!

Hope he comes back for the World Series!  : )


 I told his dad about when my husband Rick and I  first brought Natalie to Wrigley.  She was just a toddler and she kept wandering off. I told her she couldn't do that and she promptly tossed herself down onto the peanut shells and threw one of the worst fits of her life.  But ya know, that's what the game does to you.  I throw fits over the Cubs myself. But I eat the peanuts instead of roll in them....

In the eighth inning things got exciting!  Chris Coghlan blasted his second homer of the day and gave the Cubs the lead!  He went 4-4!  What a day, right?! Other timely hits, like Arismendy Alcantara's three run homer and the Chicago bullpen contributed to the final score of 8-7.  It was the best baseball game I have ever been to!!!!  The girls agreed!  I hope all of us Twitter Cub fans can get together in the bleachers for a game next year!! Now that would be a party!!

After the game we took the L back to State St. and did a little shopping before walking back to Kurt's apartment.  All of us were a little nervous about sleeping in a stranger's home but it ended up working out great. Airbnb enabled us to expand our horizons and get to know someone new.  Kurt had great references and his apartment was accommodating.  The view from his patio was really pretty at night. All the surrounding high rises remained lit until the wee hours of the morning. We slept right in his living room on an air mattress and couch.  At about 1:00 AM I woke up to the sound of someone in the kitchen running the faucet, followed by a chair getting pulled out and said someone sitting down and drinking the water.  The swallows were quite audible.  I thought to myself, "Oh great, our host is a pervert, and is at the table, watching us sleeping."  It turns out that it was just Natalie, who couldn't sleep and had gotten up for the water. We had a good laugh about it in the morning.

Sunday morning we awoke and put on our running attire. The girls and I love to run, especially together! It is a passion we have all become addicted to. Our plan was to walk to Lake Shore Drive and then run a couple of miles once we got there.  I can't describe the feeling I get when I look out over Lake Michigan.  I was born in Gary, IN and dad used to take our family to the lake all the time.  Even though my life has taken me quite far from it at times I now reside only about three hours away and strive to make it up at least once a year.  Who wouldn't love to run next to a view like this?? The pull it has on me is almost as strong as the one from Wrigley Field. It is, quite simply, magical.....

Run next to this sometime!!!



Ahhhhhh

After our invigorating run Natalie talked us all into renting the Divvy bikes that Chicago has available! This is what they look like. 

Natalie and her pet Divvy!


 It only costs $7.00 for all day rental. The cool thing about them is that you can leave them parked in any Divvy bike rack throughout the city for a long as you want.  The uncool thing is that you only have 30 minutes to ride to another bike rack.  This stipulation would prove to be our undoing.  The first leg of our bike-riding took us to Dunkin Donuts where we enjoyed some custard-filled doughnuts.  So much for our morning work-out!  We then rode the bikes back to the closest rack near our lodging.  Hot showers came next and we changed into our shopping outfits.  What's hilarious is that Natalie and I had the long, sweater cardigans that we had to tie around our waists so that they wouldn't get caught in the bike spokes! What a fashion faux pas!!!  We hopped back on the bikes and took off for the most famous place to shop in the Midwest, The Magnificent Mile!!!

Shopping heaven!

At times, we had to ride the bikes on sidewalks because the streets were too crowded.  We even accidentally rode under hotel awnings, apologizing profusely to the dumbstruck doormen.  The bikes were really a blast to ride!  They had three speeds and the cutest little bells that we sounded non-stop just to be idiots.  At one point, Laura yelled out, "We run this town!"  I've always enjoyed bike-riding! It was a blast trying to catch the lights before they turned, almost running over numerous pedestrians and, best of all, risking our lives on the congested streets of Chicago!!!  If you like adventure, this is it!

So.....there we were, in The Water Tower, walking through the umpteenth store, when I looked at my watch and noticed it was 3:00.  What??  Wasn't our train leaving at 4:05??  PANIC SET IN.  I told the girls we had to get on bikes NOW.  This is where things started to go awry.  First of all, the Divvy bike station we hit would not take Natalie's credit card.  It took ten minutes to finally get resolved.  Then, once we got on the bikes, we headed the wrong way toward the lake, instead of back-tracking  toward the apartment.  Believe me, it is quite easy to get turned around downtown!  Even my little Natalie the Navigator got sidetracked because Google Maps wasn't loading right.  MORE PANIC SET IN.  Tick tock, tick tock. We had like one minute left to find another bike station.  Remember, you can only ride for 30 minutes!  Natalie was lamenting that we were going to miss the train and she'd miss her online anatomy test! Luckily, God sent us an angel and a nice black girl told us there was a bike station down the road.  Picture us frantically shoving the bikes into the rack and hailing the first taxi we could find.  It was now 3:40. I phoned Kurt from the back of the cab, embarrassingly relayed our dilemma and asked if he could please bring our bags down to the lobby so we could grab them and get to Union Station.  Tick tock, the cab driver was hung up behind idiots trying to parallel park in front of us.  I was sweating like a whore in church and had Laura put the window down.  Finally, the taxi pulled up to our apartment building.  I shook hands with Kurt, my hand dripping with nervous sweat, thanked him for his hospitality and the girls and I grabbed our luggage and took off for Union Station.  The announcer's voice, once inside the station, blasted in our hyper tuned-in ears, "Last call to board train 393 to Champagne!"  OMG-we showed the attendant our tickets and he told us to run for it.  What a sight we were, racing at breakneck speed with our luggage trailing behind!!!! Of course, we had to go all the way to the very first car for boarding.  When we stumbled up the steps Laura heard the conductor say that she was the last one allowed on.  Whew!!!! It was like a scene out of a movie, surreal in retrospect.  And hilarious! It's funny how everything somehow fell into place, in spite of the numerous roadblocks we confronted.  Three hours later we were back on the road home.  Our epic journey was in the history books.  We can't wait for the sequel.......  : )

I love Chicago!!!!










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