Posts Tagged ‘illinois’

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So I took my daughter to Chicago for New Year’s Day….

We arrived on New Year’s Eve, and it started snowing about the moment our plane landed at Midway Airport.  It was Chicago, so it was cold and windy, too.  We decided to stay indoors and watch TV that night.  At midnight, the snow had let up enough we could watch about half a dozen fireworks displays from our hotel room window.

On New Year’s Day, it was snowing again.  We took the L out toward the waterfront.  Our stop was still a ways from the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, our destinations for the day, so we walked.  The temperature had taken a dip, and the wind was even stronger than the day before.  I don’t think my daughter had believed me about how cold it would be.  I’d stressed she needed to dress warm, but found out later she’d had gloves with her but didn’t feel a need to bring them along.  Our walk to the museums was miserable for her.  And the snow kept falling, and the temperature kept falling, and the wind kept blowing.

IL Chicago Field Museum

In the Field Museum, we walked around, looked at a few exhibits and a 3-D movie about the T-Rex, Sue.  I’d bought CityPasses for us, to see as many sights as we could in the two days we’d be in town.  But I was quickly aware I could have saved some money and just paid admission to each museum, because we could have spent the whole day in the Field Museum and probably not have seen everything.  Same with Shedd Aquarium.  We only saw a few exhibits and shows, but could have spent the whole day there.

IL Chicago Shedd Aquarium

After we were finished at the Shedd Aquarium, we had to walk back to the L station.  By then, over a foot of snow lay on the ground.  Luckily, the wind was blowing in from Lake Michigan, so the wind was at our backs.  But it was a fairly miserable walk.  Normally I would be walking around town, looking for some local place where we could have dinner, but neither of us were in the mood for exploring.  I figured we’d just have dinner at the hotel.  We’d be seeing the hotel’s restaurant a lot, this trip.

The plan for the next day had been to visit the Chicago Art Institute and take in the views from the Hancock Building and the Willis (Sears) Tower.  But, it was still snowing, and the clouds hung down below the tops of the skyscrapers, and it was even colder.  I knew we wouldn’t be able to see anything from the buildings, so I gave my daughter the choice of going to the Art Institute or stay in the room and watch movies.  She opted to stay warm and watch movies.  I didn’t argue.  And, we had our meals at the hotel restaurant.

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The next day, we were to fly home.  The sky had finally cleared, but the storm from the previous two days had moved east, and was dumping snow on airports back there.  Southwest cancelled our flight before I even checked out of the hotel.  Southwest’s website said we should still go to the airport because it would still be possible to get a plane.  I should have stayed at the hotel.  Making my biggest travel mistake ever, I followed Southwest’s advice.  However, I did have the foresight to reserve another room, expecting to spend another night in Chicago.

Midway Airport was a mess.  The line in front of the ticket counters curled back and forth several times, then curled around into a hallway behind the counters, stretching from one end of the terminal to the other.  We waited in that hallway for three hours.  I’d tried calling Southwest to get new tickets, and after waiting on hold for over an hour and finally getting to speak to someone, my cell phone battery died in the middle of our conversation.  If I weren’t a paragon of self-control, I’d have thrown my phone on the floor and started stomping on it!  When we finally got out to the line in front of the ticket counters,  I could see just as many people curling back and forth as had been in the hallway.  I decided to go back to the hotel, plug in my phone and try calling again.  If I had to spend another hour on the phone, at least I would still be saving two more hours standing in line.

We stayed in the room watching movies and ate at the hotel restaurant a couple more times.  The next day, we went to the airport, but it started snowing again.  When we checked in for our flight, the flight was already delayed 45 minutes.  While we waited at the gate, our departure time was changed several times until we finally left at after 11pm.  We arrived back at our home airport around 2am, where it was snowing even harder than it had been in Chicago.  Six inches of snow covered the roads, which hadn’t yet been plowed.  I couldn’t see the lanes, so I just steered to stay in the middle of the roads and hoped for the best.  We finally made it home around 3am, a day and a half later than originally planned.  I’ll never make the mistake of going to Chicago for a winter vacation again.

I took my daughter back to her mom’s when we got up the next day.  She had to go back to school, but because of my out-of-the-ordinary work schedule, I still had about another week and a half of vacation left.  I decided to binge-watch the Star Trek TV series.  I completed Deep Space Nine and got through three seasons of Enterprise.  I went to bed late and got used to sleeping in.

When I went back to work, I spent four days in Houston, Texas, helping install new equipment at a pharmacy.  I’d never worked on the west side before, so there was a different feel to being there.  Felt like an entirely different city, than the other times I’d been there.  As usual, I looked for local places to eat.  I’d hoped to find a few barbecue places, but only found one, Thomas Bar B Que, along I-10.  The barbecue was pretty good, and inexpensive compared to most places.

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I spent my last three days in New Mexico.  I flew into Albuquerque on Tuesday for a Wednesday morning trouble call in Santa Fe.  That meant I’d have a little extra travel time than usual, and I took advantage of that, visiting Albuquerque’s old-town area for a late lunch.  The next day in Santa Fe, I finished up my job early enough to do some sightseeing after lunch in its old-town area, mainly at the Palace of the Governors, the oldest public building still in use in the United States.  It’s now part of the state’s museum of history.  The palace had a few exhibits about the Spanish colonial period.  I found the crucifix collection especially interesting.  For lunch, I found another excellent Indian restaurant, like the one in Tupelo, Mississippi.  Funny, the unexpected places you find great ethnic foods.

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Then I flew home.  Got to spend another weekend with my wonderful daughter, and binge-watched Star Trek until I’d finished Enterprise.  At month’s end, I started Voyager.  I also began a work rotation in town, one where I worked from the office and didn’t have to travel anywhere.  There will be fewer hours and since I’m not out of town, I have to pay for my meals.  Next payday, I’ll have less money, but luckily next payday I also don’t have any large bills to pay.  Staying home has also given me the opportunity to start rearranging my apartment again, in my quest to maximize the living space in my teeny apartment.

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IA Le Claire 2

 

A few years ago, a public television station produced a show called “The Land Between Two Rivers” — a show about Iowa (between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers).  The picture above is the view from my hotel yesterday morning of the Mississippi River.  But my tale isn’t about Iowa.  My tale is about the land between the Mississippi and Ohio RiversIllinois.

I’m in Oklahoma City.  When this rotation started, I was going to drive to Wichita and work my way here for a job that starts tomorrow.  That didn’t happen.

My plans were changed.  I found myself flying to Saint Louis instead, then driving to Decatur, Illinois.  After finishing up there, I drove to Moline, Illinois for another job.  I spent the night in Le Claire, across the river, thinking I would be working in Muscatine, Iowa the next day, yesterday.  But just as I started for Muscatine, I was instead told to drive to Newburgh, Indiana.  Turned out to be a seven-hour drive through Illinois.  Newburgh is on the Ohio River.  I was tempted to stop and take a picture, but was pressed for time.  Had to get to a job.  Today I drove back to Saint Louis, also on the Mississippi (if you didn’t know).

During the last three days, I traveled on familiar highways and on new ones.  I saw the farmers out in the corn fields in their combines.  I saw orange and red trees, more than two weeks ago when I crossed from Detroit to Chicago.  Autumn has fallen on Illinois, for sure.  I ate at an awesome Chinese restaurant in Decatur and an even more awesome Japanese food restaurant in Moline.  Unfortunately, I’ve worked late hours and had big dinners, so I haven’t worked out the last three evenings.

This evening, I flew into Oklahoma City, where I’ll be spending the rest of my rotation.  Guess I’d better get to bed.  Maybe I’ll have a chance to work out some while I’m here.

 

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Last week, I landed in Detroit.  I worked there for two days, then moved to Owosso, then Kalamazoo.  Then, in a move that occurs often, the decision was made by my supervisor to take me away from Michigan and send me to Illinois for the rest of my work rotation.  I first worked in Wheaton, then St. Charles, and finally Chicago.  I’m spending my last night of this trip at a hotel near O’Hare airport.

I’ve worked in these areas before.  Last time I was in Detroit, it was the middle of winter, and it was snowing.  It was snowing last time I was in Kalamazoo.  i don’t remember what the weather was like the last time I was in Chicago, but I have been here in the winter several times.  I’m glad the weather’s been a little warmer on this trip.

Since July, I’ve spent so many nights on the road, after this trip, I should reach the top level of my rewards program.  Normally I would need to spend plenty more nights in my club’s hotels, but they give you a break on the number of nights needed if you stay at five of their hotel chains.  Before this trip, I’d only stayed at three.  This trip, I stayed at the other two.  The next time I go on the road, I should be at the top level.  One good thing about reaching the top tier is it’s easier to maintain that level with fewer stays.  Why do I care about being in the top tier?  Now I can reserve the cheaper rooms at hotels and get free upgrades to the nicer rooms, and I get more points as a reward for each night’s stay.  I love points!  I pay for my rooms while on vacation, using points.  The more I have, the more free nights.  Right now, I have enough points for 3 to 5 nights, but by the time I’ll be taking my next vacation, I could have up to two weeks’ worth of points.

This is when I get excited, and begin to think about all the places I’d like to go.  Before my money ran out, last spring, I’d wanted to bring my daughter here to Chicago.  Had to cancel those plans.  Maybe this spring….

In a way, I’m glad I’m here in Chicago the night before going home.  Guaranteed direct flights home — no layovers.  I’m hoping to get back home in the afternoon, so I can attend the going-away party for the guy who trained me when I started with the company nine years ago.  I went on the road with him on my very first rotation.  He was the senior guy and showed me how to maintain my company’s robots, and showed me how to take care of all the paperwork we had to fill out.  Later, he became a technical trainer, and I went to a few of his classes and watched a few of his training videos.  Well, he’s decided to move on after ten years with the company, and I’d like to help see him off and show my appreciation.