In two words I can describe the drive to Chicago. I slept.
After 9 hours, I was awakened as we entered the city and was instructed to finish the drive to our hotel (TWWNCBUIP does not choose to drive in the city or parallel park).
If you have never tried to dock at your hotel in Chicago using a GPS, I will warn you that navigating the maze in Castleland Adventure is easier.[slideshow]
For reasons unknown to me, the GPS lost connections with the mothership about every 30 feet within the downtown area of Chicago. By the time it reconnected, the soothing voice that had gotten us from Houston to Chicago had gone silent … until I had passed the intersection where I should have turned. She would resume speaking just in time to tell me to turn at the corner that I just passed and then .. recalculating … recalculating .. recalculating …
I passed back and forth across the river three or four times before resorting to getting directions from pedestrians on street corners. The Chicago pedestrians were pretty cool about helping lost tourists and and were finally able to direct me to our hotel, the beautifully restored Palmer House.
After stowing our things in the room, I secured an analog (paper) city map with handwritten directions from the Concierge and returned to the car, turned off the GPS, and drove straight away to meet The Sister In Law Whose Name Cannot Be Used in Print (TSILWNCBUIP), Alex and one of our Mucky Duck Alumni – the young doctor Nicole and her friend Rick at one of our favorite restaurants, A Tavola. After introductions we made the decision to eat out in the garden rather than inside because our noisy group would have overwhelmed the tiny dining area inside. The “beastly” hot weather had cooled to a balmy ninety degree evening, perfect patio weather for we Texans.
Over wine and pasta we made our plans for the next day.
No better way to celebrate the 4th than with a tour of the revered Wrigley Field. We got to see the locker rooms and the media center, but the best part was going down on the field.
TSILWNCBUIP had a great idea for a late lunch– pizza pot pie served in a restaurant located just across the street from where the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred. TSILWNCBUIP has a real feel for what appeals to our macabre young nephews. Back to the food, it really was a pizza, just not the thin crust style that I usually go for. This is a pot pie with sauce and meat baked in a bowl with a pastry top not unlike our chicken pot pie, only Italian. When the pizza pot pie is brought to the table the waiter turns it upside down onto your plate. In spite of my misgivings, I had to admit it was quite good even if it was a little unorthodox for me.
The afternoon was spent on a boat with a tour of the architectural tour of the city by boat followed by the 4th of July firework celebration on the waterfront of Lake Michigan. Lucky for us, our new friend, the very wise Concierge at the Palmer House, directed us to avoid Navy Pier and instead walk out the front door of the hotel, follow Monroe three blocks down to the water’s edge and watch the fireworks from this much less chaotic vantage point. This could have been the best piece of advice we have gotten on this trip. Now I don’t want you to think that we were sitting on the dock enjoying a private fireworks display, what I mean to tell you is that we were surrounded by only several thousand instead of several hundred thousand.
So now I have watched the fireworks from the lawn surrounding the Lincoln Memorial, on the field with Mark Portugal after a Phillies game, from Candlestick Park (again with Mark), from the banks of the Mississippi and now over Lake Michigan. One might think that I am a fireworks fan. Well, someone in the family is……