Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Halloween

11/11/2011

The rest of the trip

Filed under: — stan @ 5:18 pm

Here’s the story of the rest of our trip to Chicago for the Sears Willis Tower stair climb.

We flew out from Long Beach on Jet Blue, just like last year. I’m still very happy with the service we get with them. We arrived on time in the late afternoon, we got our subway passes for the weekend, and then headed over to our hotel and checked in.

For dinner on Friday, we rode the train down to Wicker Park. In one of those cosmic coincidences, the train car we were on was number 2249, which just happens to have been my time climbing the tower last year. When we got there, we had dinner at the Blue Line Lounge. I’d found it through Yelp, and it sounded pretty good. I got a chicken pot pie, which looked impossibly huge when it came, but I manged to eat it all, and it was very good.

On Saturday morning, we rode the train downtown to go pick up my race packet in the Willis Tower lobby. My old high school friend Stu came over and met us there, and we all walked over to Greek Town for lunch. That was fun, since this was the first time I’d seen Stu since he came to my wedding in 1988.

After lunch, we took the bus to the Museum of Science and Industry. I’ve only been there twice before. Once when I was a kid in 1967, and once in 1978 when the USCF Cycling Nationals were in Milwaukee, and I’d qualified to race in the 25-mile time trial. So it had been a long time since I’d seen the museum. It looked totally different, since they built an entire new building where the old parking lot used to be. Sadly, by the time we got there, the U-505 submarine tour was sold out, and the line for the coal mine tour was as long as for Space Mountain at Disneyland. So those things were off our list, but we still had a nice time there.

For dinner, we went back downtown to the Elephant and Castle to meet up with Mark and the rest of the stair climbers for our pre-race dinner. We had a good turnout, and it was a fun time.

Sunday morning was the stair climb, and since I already wrote about it, I don’t need to tell the story here. After the climb, we went back to our hotel, got cleaned up and checked out, and then rode the train back downtown for lunch before walking over the Union Station to ride the Metra train to Libertyville to visit with Kathleen’s aunt and uncle.

On Monday, we all went to the Chicago Botanic Garden. I’d not have thought of going somewhere like that in late autumn, but there was still a lot to see, even though it was late in the season. We spent a few hours there before we had to go to O’Hare for our flight home.

When we got to the front of the security line, I saw that they had a backscatter X-ray machine there. Having studied physics in college, the idea of X-rays on my skin doesn’t sit well with me. It may well be that it’s not harmful, but it’s a pretty new technology, and I don’t really want to be one of the guinea pigs. So I told them that I didn’t want to go through it. And they sent me to the Group W bench, or something like it. The place they reserve for troublemakers. So Kathleen and I both got the full-body TSA grope. But we finally made it through. The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful.

It was a fun weekend.

Normally, for something like this, I post pictures, but I usually don’t like to have more than nine pictures for a single post. And I had well over that for this one, so I put them in a separate photo album:

Willis Tower
http://www.1134.org/gallery/main.php/v/stan/trips/chicago2011/

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