I’ll give an overview of the day, then go into more detail in future posts. My department spent the day in Chicago for an end-of-the-season outing. The original plan was to take a dinner cruise, but when we found out the boat had a dress code, we changed our plans.
Since our homes are scattered all over the suburbs, we decided to make our way to Chicago on our own and meet at Union Station at 9:00.
A Metra train was scheduled to leave Cary at 7:45 and arrive in Chicago at 8:41, giving me 19 minutes to walk three blocks between the two stations. So I wanted to arrive at the Cary station around 7:30, giving me time to park and buy a ticket. Simple, right?
So can anyone explain why I set my alarm for 5:45 and got to the Cary station at 6:30? I can’t. I was pulling into the station parking lot when I realized what I’d done, but it was too late to go back home and go to bed. I caught an earlier train.
I had an hour to kill in Chicago, so I wandered over to Cereality, the restaurant where we planned on eating breakfast. I noticed it seemed rather empty. This was because it was rather closed.
I took it upon myself to find us an alternate breakfast locale. The Arturo Express was right next to Union Station, looked pretty good and wasn’t crowded. We headed there right after we met, and it was a good choice.
We walked the couple blocks to the water taxi, planning on taking it to Navy Pier. After a 20-minute wait (which made no sense since the other water taxi spent several of the 20 minutes waiting for us to get out of the way), we took off — to Michigan Avenue. It doesn’t go to Navy Pier.
So that left us six blocks from our destination with 20 minutes before the tour boat took off, (and we had already purchased tickets). Linda and I decided to walk. The rest of the group piled into two taxis.
For the record, I’d like to say that Linda and I arrived about 30 seconds after the first taxi and two minutes before the second one. The boat ride was great (more on that later) as was lunch at Bubba Shrimp (more on that too).
It was now about 1:30. Four of our group headed for home. The rest of us wandered up Navy Pier in search of adventure. We spent a few minutes watching a pajama band (more to come) and wandering about the Crystal Garden.
Our path headed in the general direction of the Fun House Maze, but when some of the group found out what it involved, they decided not to go. So we decided to ride the Ferris wheel. It was closed.
We walked up to the end of the pier and spent some time watching guys paint rust on a set for the next Batman movie. It was about this time that the thunderstorm arrived. At this point, it was all noise and light without any rain, but it was loud and dramatic none the less. We then walked back through the inside of the pier — through the stained glass museum (more later).
When we got to the front of the building, we split up again. The others headed for the trolley to head back to the train station. I decided to walk back and take some photos on the way.
That’s when the rain came. It came hard and loud and put on a mighty show of lightning over the lake. I holed up in a bus shelter for a couple minutes with another guy and two Chicago cops (who were talking about how stupid people are). After perhaps 15 minutes, the wind shifted and I started getting wet. I made a dash back to the pier and spent the next 45 minutes wandering about again.
I decided to do the Fun House Maze and take pictures, just to make everyone laugh when I showed them. Earlier in the day, we were each given a $30 Visa card to use however we wished. I couldn’t find it. I turned all my pockets inside out and searched through my wallet about six times. I couldn’t find it. I could distinctly remember putting it in my wallet, and I still had my wallet, so I couldn’t figure out what had happened to it. I wasn’t about to spend my own money on the maze, especially after losing $30, so I gave up.
When I got back to the front of the pier, the rain was letting up. When it looked like it was about to stop, I headed out. I’d gone about four blocks when the rain came back. I got wet — not miserably, drenchingly wet, but wet all the same.
The rain let up when I was close to the station, and I climbed damply onto the train and damply found a seat. And finally things started going right. The train that I happened to catch left just a few minutes after I climbed aboard. It was an express that only made two stops before Cary. And when I got home and took apart my wallet, I found the Visa card.