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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend in the Windy City

I do believe Chicago is becoming one of my favorite cities. Not that I've spent a lot of time in really big cities, but how cool it is!

I headed out early on Friday morning so my friend Kristen and I could meet up and go to Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Luckily both flights came in on time, with just one minor glitch: some guy threw up on Kristen on the plane. Y-U-C-K!  Poor girl.

After we each checked into our respective rooms at the uber-luxurious Conrad Hotel (located in the heart of the city complete with a high end mall attached!!) Kristen changed and cleaned up and we headed out by cab on our adventure, which it turns out, was located in a pretty shady section on the southside of Chicago (?Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown?). The driver dropped us off at the address I had printed out from the Internet, which turned out to be a community recreation center. Undeterred, we went in and started asking about the landmarks we were seeking, and were helped by a very nice (large) man with a booming voice whose name was Bill.

Bill took out a map (you get the sense people occasionally stop by looking for the fair sites) and pointed out the location of the Statue of the Republic (since moved from its original location) which overlooked the fair, the Japanese Garden on the Wooded Island, and the Fine Arts Building, which is now the Museum of Science and Industry. BUT, he said, while the sites were close by, he didn't think we should walk to them because of the traffic. Bill kept going on about the "traffic," which it turns out was a euphemism for the fact that the park we'd be walking through is dangerous and a place known for drug deals. So into Bill's golf cart we hopped for our own private tour of the old sites. We thought that was super nice of him to escort us through the park, and Kristen felt it was a gesture that balanced out the universe after her earlier bad episode on the plane.

Obviously, it was very difficult to imagine "The White City" in run down, weedy, crime-ridden area where it stood almost 120 years ago, but it was still a lot of fun to actually be there. The only original building left standing is beautifully restored on the outside, and thoroughly modern on the inside. The Museum and Science and Industry was one of the coolest museums I've been to and I would highly recommend it if you visit Chicago.

After our visit to Jackson Park, we headed back over to Michigan Avenue ("The Magnificent Mile") for lunch before going back to the hotel to freshen up for our 4pm meeting. At 4pm, we were off and running for our meeting which lasted until 8pm, to be followed by another full day on Saturday. It was wonderful, as always, to see my NAGAP colleagues and the meeting was extremely productive. On Friday night we went out for drinks, but by Saturday night, after an awesomely delicious dinner, I was spent and I headed back to my fluffy bed to veg out for a couple of hours. This morning I had a bite to eat, headed back to the hellish zoo that is is O'Hare, and flew home to have dinner with the family, which included a visit with Cam.

Tomorrow it's back to reality with no fun travel planned until January, when, UNFORTUNATELY, I have to go to Puerto Rico for our next board meeting!  Super Like!

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