We spent about 42 hours in Chicago this weekend, and it was quite the whirlwind trip. Diana's cousin, Michelle, had her wedding on Friday night.
I actually volunteered to skip the wedding, to watch Simon and his two cousins, Nina and Mason. I didn't feel comfortable hiring a stranger to watch them in the hotel, and really, I miss the kids. Most of the people at the wedding I see frequently enough that it's no big deal. In a strange coincidence, I also didn't go to Michelle's brother's wedding in LA a few years ago, because after a day of travel (and that was just getting through LA!), Simon was in no shape to take to a wedding.
I generally tell people that I don't like Chicago, because almost every time I've been there (not counting lay-overs), it has been driving. Chicago isn't meant for cars. There are too many people driving, and they're all maniacs. Even the pedestrians are stupid, jumping out in front of cars. But if I take away the driving into it part, there are certainly a lot of great things about the city. We rolled into town at almost 3, because of accidents in Ohio and Indiana, and it sucked. I was so glad to give the keys to the valet.
We stayed at the JW Marriott, which is next door to the Sears, er, I mean, Willis Tower. No, we didn't do the Ferris Bueller thing, because I kind of forgot about it by Sunday morning. It was a great location, in the L loop with a station around the corner. The hotel is only a year old or so, molded into a former bank building. It smells like the Venetian, and I was always looking for the slots. I really liked it, and we got a solid rate under $200 for the wedding. Overall it was a pretty good value for a downtown hotel with rooms that comfortable, though the $55/night to park the car obviously sucked. Whatever... I felt like we got a good deal.
When we arrived, everyone was gearing up for the wedding, and at that moment, I kind of felt left out, and briefly regretted the offer to watch the kids. However, once Mason got over the departure of his parents (in all of 15 seconds), the fun started. His favorite phrase for the night was, "Watch this, Simon!" While Nina pretty much crashed for the night, the boys had a good old time running between the connected rooms, flopping on the king bed and jumping off stuff. I really feel bad that Simon doesn't get to play with his cousin almost every day the way he did when we lived in Snoqualmie. Sure, they have their sharing issues, but they clearly have a good time together.
For the first time ever, at least that I can remember, Simon actually asked to go to bed. Mason zoned out in front of the TV, and I put him down, and Nina also zoned in her bed. They were all down by 9 or so, and I retreated to the Internets to catch up on the news of the day. I started to feel a little left out again as I saw the photos coming from the wedding on Facebook, but I got over it.
On Saturday, we ventured down the street to a little restaurant recommended by my in-laws, and had a nice breakfast. From there, we rolled down a few more blocks to Millennium Park to see what was going on there. Not even 10 a.m., and there were tourists everywhere, touching Cloud Gate ("the bean") and splashing in the creepy water wall face video wall thing. There was also a massive yoga class going on in the amphitheater. I love to see urban life thrive like that, even though I don't think I'd like it. Growing up in a bad neighborhood in the city and moving to the 'burbs soured me.
While Diana went to a yarn shop, I crashed in the room with Simon for a nap. It was one of the most satisfying naps ever. In fact, the whole trip seems to have reset my sleep, because I had an exceptional few nights of rest, even once we got home.
In the afternoon, we left Simon with his Uncle Joe, and Diana and I hopped on the Brown Line to go see the Blue Man Group. There were pride events going on around town, and it looked like they were either going to have a parade or already did, judging by the stacks of road barriers in the area near the theater. There was a lot of colorful hair and clothing, and the tattoo and piercing shop had a line (no matching tattoos for us this time, either). It felt diverse and inclusive, the way Seattle does to me. It's un-Cleveland.
We had an early dinner at a place called Jack's, a block down Halsted from the theater. We had mimosas and giant sandwiches that were fairly delicious. We also ate them in record time, as somehow my intention to leave the hotel early with time to spare translated to us getting our food at 3:35 (the show was at 4). I would have liked to have had more drinks.
I already wrote about the show. On the way back we had a good time people watching on the train. There was a cute girl with long hair and one side of it shaved, but I was complaining about her giant hipster glasses. That's such a silly trend. Do we really have to relive 1989?
On the way, Diana got a text that the remaining family at our hotel was at a restaurant on the other side of the loop, with Simon, so we stayed on a few stops to meet up with them. We had a lovely Russian waitress that Simon was very fond of, and he actually managed to eat some restaurant food. We had drinks and some fried cheese, since we ate earlier. I would've liked to have stayed longer and had more, especially after being super dad the night before, but Simon's impatience was starting to annoy people, so we took off before everyone else. We're working with him on being patient in eating situations, but this was just not the place. That, and Simon managed to launch marinara across the room from a spoon catapult, though he took most of the damage.
Back at the hotel, the kids again had the run of our connected rooms. We moved Simon's pack-and-play into Joe's bathroom once the kids were down, and the four grownups hung out in our room. It was nice to spend time with them, and when we went to bed, and left the next day, I again felt the regret that we don't get to do that like we used to. We're not down the street anymore, and it sucks.
Sunday morning started with an unsuccessful attempt at the same breakfast, since the place was closed. We ended up in the Irish bar of a neighboring hotel, with unremarkable food. But we got more sib-in-law hang out time, and Simon got more cousin time, so that was nice. We packed it up and one of the valet dudes entertained Simon while we waited for the car.
We had one stop on the way home (well, technically a second because the f'ing Wendy's in South Bend where I got lunch gave me a diet Coke, so I had to stop at the next service plaza). We made really good time, with 43 mpg.
It was a nice little diversion of a weekend. It was kind of expensive for the length of time, but I feel like we got what we paid for. With Simon being the age that he is, these short weekend trips work really well for him. Still on the fence about going to Orlando this December, or waiting a year. Almost 18 months since our last visit, and I'm getting the shakes!