Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Mid Summer and my 60th B'day trip to Chicago

Today is the longest day of the year... which to me is sort of depressing as it means the days start to get shorter and winter (which I hate) is that much nearer. Yep, I am nuts, I know.

This past weekend I celebrated my 60th birthday. My daughter, Robin, and son-in-law Brett, met us in Chicago.The start of the trip was not a good omen. Thursday : We had a 6:00 a.m. flight which means we were up at the crack of dawn and had to leave the house by 4:00 a.m. We got a late start and 12 minutes into the drive to the airport I realized that we forgot the camera and my meds. I did a fast U turn and headed back home... with a lead foot on the accelerator. I figured there were no cops out at that hour! On the way back there was a bunny sitting in the road in the adjacent lane.... do you think it would have stayed there??? Nope... it decided to play kamikaze rabbit and I watched in horror as it jumped into the path of the car. Thump. I did scream as it hit but at the speed I was traveling there was nothing I could do. This was not a good start. We finally got close to the airport and saw that the exits were closed. Crap... we were really running late... after taking some of the local streets we decided not to use our regular off airport parking (no time) and parked across from the terminal. We got there 45 minutes before flight time... the deadline for checking bags. because of Ned's crazy travel he racks up a zillion miles a year and is a global services member... which sort of means they bow down when he arrives.... nice perk if you are traveling with him. They took our luggage with not much hassle and we got to go through the priority line for security. Phew! We were going to make this plane after all.
We finally arrived late Thursday morning... could not check into hotel, but spent a wonderful day.  We started by walking around Millennium Park watching the kids of all ages playing in the water works and viewing some of the latest sculptures. We had a nice lunch outside and then went over to the Art Institute. I have not been to Chicago for at least 7 years so this was a nice treat. In the lobby of the AI was an improvisational dance group putting on a display that was being taped and we watched the "installation" of 2 art exhibits. We then went to see the Impressionists exhibit.... one of my favorites. There was a special exhibit of Matisse but I was really disappointed in that. Most of his work that I love was not there. Thankfully, I have had opportunities to see it both in France and at the MET in NY. Still, it was a disappointment.  We finished up with the Thorne Rooms. These are re-creations in 1/12th scale of rooms. The workmanship and creativity are exquisite and pretty close to my heart. I have a wonderful collection of my own in the the form of 2 huge dollhouses that I built ages ago. We went back to hotel and crashed for a few hours but made a reservation for late dinner. We had an awesome dinner at North Pond (once we found the place... cabby got lost) and managed to polish off a bottle of wine between us. I am usually a one drink gal (cheap date) but over the course of 2 hours, it somehow disappeared. Sleep was welcome. ... Except Ned had to be up at 6:00 a.m. for a conference call, sigh. I went back to sleep till 8:00.  We mozzied (sp?) on down to a local place for breakfast and caught the last of the World cup game with the US on Friday morning. To say it was exciting would be an understatement. You didn't even have to watch to know what was happening. The crowd was going nuts. The rest of the morning was spent strolling down Michigan Avenue and window shopping. We stopped for a nice lunch and strolled back to our hotel for a nap. Robin and Brett were suppose to fly in from NY to meet us and we planned a late dinner. At 3:00 we get a call that their flight was going to be delayed because of bad storms at O'Hare. The sun was shining out the window from our gorgeous view.
45 minutes later all hell broke loose. It was pitch black, the lightening and thunder were on top of each other and it was pouring rain. You could actually see the squall lines. The kids were originally due in at 6:45... they got in at 10:30 but had to wait an hour because they would not unload the luggage and the airline made them check their carry-on because the flight was full and there was no more room. So much for our original plans. They finally arrived at the hotel at 11:30 p.m. We found a lovely Italian restaurant that served till 1:00 a.m. and had a nice (if belated dinner). We subsequently found out about all the damage from the storm. Windows were blown out of of buildings and many places lost electricity and phone service. We were lucky.
My daughter had arranged for a massage (part of my b'day present) the next morning. We grabbed something to eat and the guys went to watch the soccer game. The late morning and early afternoon was spent at The Lincoln Park Zoo and then a lovely lunch a few blocks away. Next stop was the Aquarium. After the shock of the admission price, we had an enjoyable time. I love zoos and aquariums and try to visit them wherever I go. Back to the hotel for a nap and a late dinner at a restaurant called MK. Another fabulous dinner with excellent service. Despite the rocky start this was turning into a great weekend. Ah, bed. Sunday morning was sleep in time with a late brunch in honor of Father's day. Ned got to pick where he wanted to go. We were planning on going to the Museum of Science and Industry (another of my favs in Chicago) but I decided that it was such a nice day and didn't want to spend it indoors. Instead we walked to Navy Pier and stopped into Fox and Obel's on the way back. We had a snack there and picked up goodies to take on the plane. We probably walked about 2-1/2 miles... The weekend was close to an end. I had a fantastic time and was thrilled to have spent it with my favorite people. We grabbed a cab and headed to the airport. The kids got home with no problems... we had a bit of a change in plans. Our flight went back through Denver and did not get back to Phoenix till almost 11:00 p.m. which would have gotten us home at about 1:00 a.m. Turns out Ned had an early morning flight to Manila and had to repack.. which means he wouldn't have gotten any sleep... so we opted to stay in a hotel near the airport. This was probably a good decision. I dropped Ned off and went home. I needed a nap this afternoon. It was a fun trip.


Gerrie said...

I was thinking about you when that storm hit Chicago! All in all, sounds like a jam-packed and fun trip. Happy Birthday!

Ann Brauer said...

Sounds like a great trip. Thanks for reminding me about the Thorne Rooms--I grew up in Illinois and my mother took us in to the Art Institute a couple of times when I was young. I loved them but hadn't thought about them in years.

Carole said...

I am so happy to read of your special time with special people. I thought of you so often and came looking for 'bits'... glad it all worked out so well.