Oct 3, 2009

Chicago: The City

The Maycock family in the Windy City. Sunday, September 13, 2009


In starting work on this blog, I realized that we didn't actually take very many pictures of our weekend in Chicago, which was a shame because it was a gorgeous weekend and the Windy City looked especially good against a backdrop of blue sky and the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. I'm especially disappointed that we didn't take a picture of our host for the weekend, Kim Thedford. Kim's an old college friend of mine and a longtime Chicago resident. She really saved us, providing us with a place to stay at the last minute when we found out that the hotel we'd booked had reports of bedbugs.

(I'd read an internet post the weekend before about the spread of bed bugs in hotels recently with a link to a website called the Bedbug Registry that records reports of bedbugs at hotels. I looked up our hotel, the Chicago South Loop Hotel, and sure enough, it had been flagged. I called the hotel and spoke with the management and they said they were unaware of any bedbug problems. However they were very apologetic and promised to look into it. Despite their assurances, I just didn't feel comfortable staying there. We'd found this hotel as special "bargain" through Hotwire.com--a site I do NOT recommend. As part of being able to offer their bargain-basement deals, they will not reveal the name of the hotel, car rental company, or airline until you have already paid the nonrefundable price. Never again will I be tempted by their "Five Star Hotels at $39" come-on. Even before the Bedbug Discovery I was already a little leery of the hotel because of the way we got a reservation there. We lost the $200 it cost for the two nights there, but it was worth to not have my wife and son consummed by bedbugs and to not worry about bringing the critters home with us).

Anyway, Kim rescued us and put us up at her lovely home which was, needless to say, completely bedbug free! We had a really nice stay. Kim helped us find our way around the city (including driving out to an El station in a sketchy part of town at 12:30 at night to pick me up when I took the wrong train home from the Saturday night U2 show and found myself deep in the 'hood.) She cooked us delicious gourmet meals, and generally was the perfect hostess. She even provided me with door-to-door service to the concerts both nights, dropping me off right at the entrance. All three of us thoroughly enjoyed our five-star stay.

Our hostess for the weekend, Kim Thedford. Can't believe we never took any pictures while we were there. I lifted this one from her Facebook. Thanks, Kim, for your generous hospitality! We'll have to visit again when our weekend isn't dominated by the Biggest Band in the World.

On our arrival in Chicago, we headed to the Bongo Room for a late brunch. This is where we were supposed to meet my fellow U2 fans but they'd all left by that time. The Bongo Room is one of those classic big-city joints--small capacity, funky-cool design, and delectable food. The menu was small, but the breakfast burrito I had was spectacular, and you sensed they value quality over quantity. Think of it as the anti-Cheesecake Factory.

After lunch we strolled over to Grant Park, enjoying the balmy temperatures and warm sunshine. We wandered over to Soldier Field where U2 superfans were already lining up for the show that night. Some fans had been there since early that morning, and some of the diehards had even camped out--surreptiously, as it was against park rules--overnight. I was hoping we might meet some Interference members, but I was too shy to walk along the line asking: "Anybody from Interference?"

Mid to late afternoon we left the musuem campus and Grant Park and headed over to Kim's house, where we settled in, and had dinner before I left for the concert, not long after sundown.

On Sunday, we began the day leisurely in Kim's house, enjoying a late breakfast and heading out into the city in the early afternoon. We were thinking we might take Elijah to the Children's Museum at Navy Pier, but by the time we got there we only had two hours until we had to head back. So, instead, we browsed the shops at Navy Pier, and relaxed on a blanket on the grass in a nearby park. We ended the afternoon with dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant and then drove back to Kim's.

Hanging out at a park near Navy Pier. Sunday, September 13, 2009

There's a lot I would have liked to do in one of our favorite cities in the world. It would have been nice to run along the lakeshore, window shop on Michigan Avenue, visit a museum or two. Babs and I had even planned a full day of activities for Sunday--most of which got dropped due to the time. But our primary reason for being in Chicago that weekend was for me to see U2. I was glad Babs and Elijah came along to keep me company during the day and we did have a nice time as a family, but really experiencing Chicago would have to wait for another visit.

As for the concert? Well that does a blog of it's own. . .

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